Friday, June 09, 2006

Don't panic -- injustice will not make you any safer

I wrote this column for Capital Xtra before this week's arrests of 17 people for supposedly planning to bomb federal buildings and behead the Prime Minister.

Now, I would never defend the actions of people who would resort to horrific violence, but I think we should all heed this warning from the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War -- don't panic. Take a deep breath, and remember that the suspects involved are to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Remember that many of those charged are young teenagers who may have been swayed by one charismatic leader. Their comments, posted on blogs, could be interpreted as little more than teenage frustration at the state of the world. The Globe and Mail reported this morning that the RCMP was careful to contact the media about the arrests before the suspects were arraigned so the media could have a field day, sans publication ban. And they are certainly winning the Propaganda War. If you've been reading the Globe and Mail, you'd think that we should be all be preparing for the apocalypse by stocking up on canned food and hiding under our desks "duck and cover" style.

Let's not forget the last time authorities trotted out dozens of young male Arab "terrorism" suspects (in Project Thread in 2003, later dubbed "Project Threadbare"), they later released every single one of them, due to a lack of evidence. And today, the Ottawa Citizen is reporting that RCMP civilian agents (all of whom have diplomatic immunity, therefore can't be charged with any crimes) "covertly committed a range of crimes, including firearms offences, counterfeiting and the theft over $5,000..." in 2004-05. Hmmm ... shouldn't we be as concerned about state-sponsored criminals in positions of authority as we are about supposed civilian terrorists?

We should also be worried when U.S. authorities use this string of arrests as an excuse to push Canada to further integrate our security policies to join Bush's War on Terror. I mean, if the RCMP did manage to scuttle a terrorism plot, we should applaud their success as proof that our homegrown system works. Why would we screw it up by joining forces with a government that started an illegal war in Iraq based on false intelligence about weapons of mass destruction?

And let's not forget the real scourge on our society -- domestic violence. While supposed terrorism plots have so far killed zero people in Canada, between 1994 and 2003, 630 women were murdered by a spouse. According to StatsCan, causes of death included shooting stabbing, strangulation and beating. Now that's a reason to duck and cover ....

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