Friday, February 23, 2007

The Supremes give Harper the finger

While today's unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down Canada's controversial security certificates was not a direct attack on Stephen Harper, given his latest antics, I like to close my eyes and conjure up the image of the nine Supremes lining up to give Harper the finger. Actually, it's the Charter of Rights giving Harper the finger, because once again, the Court has acknowledged that arbitrary discrimination is completely unacceptable.

In this case, the Court ruled that it's unconstitutional to detain non-citizens indefinitely without giving them access to the evidence (or even the charges!) against them. And yeah, yeah, I know, this law way pre-dated Harper, but I like to think of this judgment as a little love letter to "Canada's new government."

I almost puked during the federal election, when Harper staged convenient photo ops with various cultural communities, spreading the message that gay marriage would threaten their religious rights. He used oppression of the queer community as leverage to try to attract immigrant voters.

And now he's at it again, surrounding himself with the families of the Air India victims, trying to bolster his bid to maintain some of the most egregious aspects of Canada's anti-terror legislation (preventative arrests and investigative hearings) ... claiming that he is somehow protecting minority communities by severely restricting their human rights. Because who is suffering the brunt of the anti-terror madness? People of colour, particularly of Arab descent, who are subject to racial profiling and discrimination based on their immigration status.

To read more about the experiences of minority communities under Canada's new anti-terror regime, check out the final report of the People's Commission on Immigration "Security" Measures.

I imagine that the Anti-Terrorism Act will land on the Supremes' desk some time soon ... no wonder "Steve" hates the courts so much.

- Cross posted to BlogThis!

Top court rules against security certificates

No time to write about this in detail right now, but YIPPPEEE. The Supreme Court just struck down Security Certificates, saying that they violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court gave the government one year to fix the problem, though, which means that the 5 detainees are still in jeopardy.

Still, this is a very, very exciting day.

-- Ariel (toes still frozen from protesting against Condi Rice in the blistering, sunny cold)

Top court rules against security certificates
Last Updated: Friday, February 23, 2007 | 7:51 AM ET
The Canadian Press

The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the security certificate system used by the federal government to detain and deport foreign-born terrorist suspects.

In a 9-0 judgment, the court found that the system, described by government officials as a key tool for safeguarding national security, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

But the court suspended the judgment from taking legal effect for a year, giving Parliament time to write a new law complying with constitutional principles.

Critics have long denounced the certificates, which can lead to deportation of non-citizens on the basis of secret intelligence presented to a Federal Court judge at closed-door hearings.

Those who fight the allegations can spend years in jail while the case works its way through the legal system. In the end, they can sometimes face removal to countries with a track record of torture.

The system was challenged on constitutional grounds by three men from Morocco, Syria and Algeria — all alleged by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to have ties to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. All deny any such ties.

More to come

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Find out what Rice and Chertoff aren't telling you

A message from the Council of Canadians ...

Rice and Chertoff visit Canada

Find out what they won’t be telling you about North American integration!

On Friday February 23, U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff will be in Ottawa to discuss North American integration with their Canadian and Mexican counterparts. This is part of a series of meetings aimed at bringing Canadian and Mexican policies in line with U.S. demands through an agreement called the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).

The SPP is bad for public interest and bad for the environment. So far, only the CEOs of North America’s biggest corporations have been invited to the table. There has been no parliamentary debate and the public has been left out completely.

The Council of Canadians will be setting up an SPP information station outside the meeting to expose the facts about this corporate-led plan for North America. Join us on the 23rd to find out more and to let our leaders know that we will not let them shut us out any longer!


9:00 am – 11:00 am


3:00pm – 4:30 pm


In front of DFAIT -- 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa

This will be a family-friendly event.

Visit for a citizens' perspective on the SPP.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

New blogging gig!

Hi everyone,

I have just joined the team of web-savvy writers over at BlogThis, This Magazine's group blog. For those you that don't know This, it's a progressive news and culture magazine with a 40-year history. I was a ThisMag intern in 1999, and have been a faithful reader for over 10 years ....

So add BlogThis to your RSS feed. And check out my first entry here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Gay refugee wins reprieve!

This is only one example of how the immigration/refugee system is unjust and rather arbitrary ... but in this case, people's phone calls, faxes and emails MADE A DIFFERENCE. This is a very good day for Alvaro Orozco, and for citizen action.

Nicaraguan wins reprieve in bid to remain in Canada

Alvaro Orozco, a gay Nicaraguan teen runaway who faced imminent removal from Canada after his asylum bid was rejected, has won a last-minute reprieve.

The Justice Department agreed yesterday to defer his removal for two months, giving him time to file an application to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, his lawyer El-Farouk Khaki said late yesterday.

Mr. Orozco, now 21, says he ran away from home before his 13th birthday after being beaten by his alcoholic father, who was angry about his sexual orientation.

Mr. Orozco's refugee claim was rejected because Immigration and Refugee Board member Deborah Lamont didn't believe he was homosexual.

Full story.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Burnett on Age of Consent

I have written pretty extensively about the Conservative government's legislation to raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 -- not to mention the fact that the age of consent for anal sex is still 18 years old (hello, dinosaur-era laws) .... anyway, Richard Burnett picked up the same argument in his latest Three Dollar Bill column for Hour in Montreal. Check it out.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Act NOW to stop deportation of gay refugee

A quick update on the Alvaro Orozco story. His supporters have set up a website where you can send letters to the Immigration Minister and to his MP. I just did it -- it only took 5 minutes.

Click here, and ACT NOW!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Can't prove he's gay, teen is denied asylum

When I wrote the column about the Safe Third Country Agreement, I didn't dwell on the Canadian immigration system, because I was trying to make a point about the integration of Canada-U.S. immigration policy ... but clearly the Canadian system is still extremely flawed. I'd really like to know what Alvaro would have to do to prove that he's gay enough. And it's astouding that the immigration judge faulted him for not being sexually active at 12 YEARS OLD.

The article mentions that Alvaro has been recieving help from the Supporting Our Youth (SOY) group in Toronto. At least someone's in his corner. Click here to find out more about SOY, and to make a donation.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Refugee agreement hurts queers

Well, the Safe Third Country Agreement doesn't just hurt queers -- it hurts potential refugee claimants from all over the world. But I wrote this column with a GLBT audience in mind. It's part of my campaign to "get gay people to care about something other than themselves." Actually, Paul Gallant has some lovely things to say about that in the Toronto edition of Xtra.

For more information about the harmful impact of the Safe Third Country Agreement, visit the wonderful folks at the Canadian Council for Refugees. Their website is sadly lacking in functionality, but their reports are excellent ...