Justice Department lawyer Michael Peirce also told the internal inquiry yesterday that the United Nations Convention Against Torture is not a factor in deciding whether to send information to countries such as Syria and Egypt about Canadians detained there.
The comments are a rare public statement from Ottawa in relation to three Canadian men who were detained in the same Syrian jail as Maher Arar during the three years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Sometimes I just want to see the loose standards, that those in power are willing to have others live by, applied to their own lives. If Mr. Peirce thinks that it is just fine to sanction third party torture of Canadians (or anyone else for that matter)then perhaps he should get to experience a year of hospitality in a Syrian cell. I am sick of all this bullshit and fear mongering. Somehow a single spectacular attack in the United States, over six years ago, has led us to abandon our own standards of decency, propriety and common sense. At this juncture it is difficult to say we are fighting terrorism because we are too damned busy emulating it and whipping up excuses for our own shady practice.
Liberal, Conservative or whatever the government, Canada is not a nation whose people condone torture. When our leaders, national police and security agencies allow for the abduction of citizens and their rendition we are made complicit in crimes against humanity. By delivering information and in turn seeking information from states whose practices are known to include torture, we are diminishing ourselves as a people and as a nation. Slowly we become that which we despise. Less slowly when we are dealing with a government that is willing to abandon long held practices of advocating for Canadian citizens abroad. Citizens who are held in dubious prisons, facing capital punishment and children held in contempt of the law.
"Is it your submission that the answer to this question is given by what you've been submitting? That the [Convention Against Torture] doesn't deal with the sharing of information?" asked the commissioner.
"Yes," Mr. Peirce replied. "That is to say the [Convention Against Torture] does not create a standard, certainly not one that governed in 2001 to 2004, by which to judge sufficiency or deficiency of Canadian actions because it did not impose such a standard."
I never thought that I would be ashamed of this nation. The more this sort of thing is exposed the less pride I take in my citizenship. We are supposed to be the sort of people that fight against the lies and equivocation that allow abuse to become woven into the fabric of our lives. We are supposed to be better than that. Evidently that is not the case. Shame on us, Canada.
"It looks like they want to legalize torture, but not directly - indirectly," Mr. Almalki, who was in the same Syrian prison at the same time as Mr. Arar, told reporters after Mr. Peirce's presentation.
Yes. It does look like that. And while our past Liberal government was little better, our present Conservative government seems rather eager to see those old standards of humanity, decency and rule of law done away with - indirectly. Torture is the focused practice of terror. This makes Canada a state that sanctions terror. This gradual erosion of standards and morals makes us our own worst enemies. Maybe the terrorists have won, after all. Shame.