“Liberté de mouvement, liberté d'action.”
~ Jean-Claude-Marie-Vincent de Gournay
“Let's find out what everyone is doing, and then stop everyone from doing it.”
~ A. P. Herbert
The federal government’s consideration of “preventive control measures” to be used against Canadian citizens suspected of being security threats should be a dangerous wake-up call for all. These latest rumblings from Ottawa indicate that study is ongoing on instituting the use of a variety of devices, including electronic ankle bracelets, prior to any trial or the placement of any charge.
The justification for this manifests the same wrong-headed thinking that was apparent in the mid-eighties when the new point system in immigration was introduced enslaving everyone under the yoke of the lowest common denominator. The rationale today is that since non-Canadians are already subject to preventive controls, including incarceration without benefit of disclosure, under security certificates, it is only just that these measures be extended to Canadian citizens as well.
I’m not making this up. These are words from federal officials. What they don’t seem to get is that what would be just would be eliminating injustice from all not spreading out injustice to all.
Back in the mid-eighties Ottawa decided it was somehow unfair that our immigration system rewarded those with better educations, skills and languages. The statocrats on the Rideau wanted a more level playing field so that we could import and exploit more cheap labour from the Third World. So they instituted a new point system that brought everyone into the “race for the bottom”
We are living through the same mindset today. Instead of increasing budgets and talent in our intelligence gathering and security apparatus and safeguarding our freedoms through pre-emptive intelligence, strengthened armed forces, and adherence to the rule of law, Ottawa seeks the easy way out by spreading misery more “equitably” and staggering drunkenly from wrong to wrong.
We may well be in what James Woolsey has consistently called “World War IV” in the current struggle against terror, but the difficult duty of liberal democracies is to assure that they do not mirror what they seek to destroy in such a combat. Bad laws are not always made by bad men. All too often they arise out of politicians’ compulsions to demonstrate action even when none is required.
It would be wise to remember that many of the criticisms of Prime Minister Trudeau’s actions during the October Crisis in 1970 were not aimed at his decision to send the army into the streets of Montreal. There was obvious need for heightened security and the local and provincial forces could not meet it. The criticism was aimed at his resort to the War Measures Act which did away with all civil liberties’ protections. It was felt by many that Mr. Trudeau could have accomplished the same goals under less draconian law.
The same is true with the need for heightened security in Canada today. We do not need more law. What is on the books is sufficient. Several international agencies that monitor the protection of civil liberties worldwide have recently named Canada as one of ten countries with among the most invasive and intrusive body of legislation and regulation that compromise basic individual privacy rights to an unreasonable degree. We make of the law a two-edged sword of craft and oppression instead of using it as a shield of the innocent and the honest.
Canada is already one of the most controlled free societies in the west. It is to be hoped that we do not succumb to Tacitus’ warning of so long ago that “When the state is most impotent, the laws are most multiplied.”