February 11, 2012 - No. 6
Agenda of the Harper Government
Arbitrary Powers Cannot Be
• Arbitrary Powers Cannot Be Used
Arbitrarily Courts Rule - Enver Villamizar
• Canada's "We Oppose Torture Unless
It Is Useful to Save Lives" Position - Pauline Easton
• Only the Imperialists Have Ever
Put Nazis into Power in Iran - Hilary LeBlanc
• Government Uses Blackwater
Mercenaries to Train Special Forces
Pseudoscience in the
• Myth of the "Aggressive Gene" -
Use of Information Obtained from Torture
• Parliamentary Exchanges
• Pragmatic "Policy Debate" in the
Agenda of the Harper Government
Arbitrary Powers Cannot Be
Used Arbitrarily Courts Rule
One of the features of the Harper government which
Canadians is the repeated use of the prerogative
of the Prime Minister and other Ministers to impose whatever they want
manner such that nobody can hold them to account. The fact is that the
powers, despite being arbitrary -- which means they are exercised on
of the discretion of the minister -- are not supposed to be exercised
manner which extends beyond the bounds of the authority conferred by
In one example, on January 19, the Federal Court
of Canada ruled
that Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews used his arbitrary
powers arbitrarily -- he did not provide reasons for his decision to
request for transfer to Canada of Richard Goulet, a Canadian citizen
of drug trafficking who is imprisoned in the United States. The
denial of the request without giving reasons contradicted a risk
assessment by a
Correctional Service Canada Director that indicated Mr. Goulet had no
criminal record in Canada, no identified ties to an organized crime
no history of sexual crimes and was also found to be unlikely to
The Court ruled that the Minister had 45 days to reconsider the
transfer "on the merits and in accordance with the requirements of the
In other words, through its ruling, the Court upheld the position that
cannot operate with impunity. They must provide adequate reasons for
decisions so that a court can review them if needed and determine if
in line with the rule of law.
The Court's ruling in this and similar cases shed light
on a number of the
changes to the International Transfer of Offenders Act in
that is currently before the Senate. The most important is that the
the Act is changed to one of "public safety" from one of rehabilitation
administration of justice. On the basis of this new purpose, the
legislation would also replace mandatory considerations that currently
applied in determining offender transfer requests with optional
criteria that the
Minister may consider.
The Minister would also be permitted to consider any
other factor believed
to be relevant in denying a request for transfer, without providing
arrangement would effectively remove judicial oversight as a check
abuse of the ministerial prerogatives and provide impunity from the law.
These cases reveal that the modus operandi of
government is not merely to implement a "tough-on-crime" agenda. Its
invocation of "public safety" is a new raison d'etat -- a
justification which claims that for the state to carry out its duty to
public safety, its ministers must be able to act with impunity which
that the role of the courts to hold the executive in check for abuse of
must be eliminated. In this case, the Minister claims that his denial
of the request is a reasonable defence of public safety. He gives no
reasons but the suggestion is that because the man is a convicted drug
dealer that is enough. One can even extend the facts to suggest that
his mom-and-pop operation amount to organized crime.
Under current law, personal belief is not sufficient argument to deny a
request. The report of the Director of Corrections Canada contradicts
the Minister's personal belief in this case in favour of objective
criteria hitherto established by lawfully mandated public bodies. It is
the resort to
mandated objective criteria which is to be sacrificed in the changes
government is enacting. Changes will remove current checks on the use
prerogative powers of the Prime Minister and government Ministers. Thus
it is understood that the constitutionally sanctioned arbitrary powers
Prime Minister and other government ministers must not be exercised
arbitrarily. The Harper government is saying, however, that from now on
they can be.
is a very dangerous situation. Senators, no matter what political
belong to, owe it to Canadians to oppose the passage of this bill.
Summary of the Goulet Case
The detainee requesting transfer in the case in question
is Richard Goulet,
a Canadian citizen and a federal inmate serving a sentence of seven
three months at the Allenwood Low Security Correctional Facility in
Deer, Pennsylvania for the offences of conspiracies to distribute and
marijuana into the United States. He was caught in a sting operation
by U.S. Immigration and Customs agents.
On July 10, 2008, he applied under Canada's International
Act for a transfer to a Canadian correctional facility.
December 8, 2010, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Vic Toews denied Goulet's application, despite Goulet meeting the
a transfer according to the law. In his denial, the Minister alluded to
being part of a criminal organization because Goulet had worked with
other people in organizing deliveries of marijuana to the U.S. Toews,
did not present proof to justify his defamation of Goulet which
suggests that he is part of organized crime. The Minister's decision
"...[I]n February 2006, Larry Bowen was arrested with
191 pounds (86.6
kilograms) of hydroponic marijuana in his vehicle. Mr. Bowen informed
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that he had made 10 trips
during 2005 and 2006 to [Eric Tetreault] and that the source of the
was Richard Goulet. Mr. Bowen agreed to participate in a controlled
of marijuana to Mr. Tetreault. Mr. Goulet instructed Mr. Bowen on the
delivery of the drugs to Mr. Tetreault, who was arrested as he
take possession of the drugs. On June 2, 2006, Mr. Goulet was arrested.
Another accomplice, Stéphane Ruel, who also acted as a driver in
initiated by Mr. Goulet, was implicated with this transaction."
Presenting the "reasons" for his ruling, Toews stated:
"The Act requires that I consider whether, in my
opinion, the offender
will, after the transfer, commit a criminal organization offence within
meaning of section 2 of the Criminal Code. In considering this factor,
that, in addition to the offender, at least three accomplices were
the commission of the offence, a sophisticated operation involving
quantities of marijuana. There is information on file that identifies
applicant as a senior participant of the drug smuggling operation, and
individual who engaged, directed and paid others for helping smuggle
shipment. Furthermore, there is information on file indicating that the
has coordinated and organized drug trips in the past, purported to
involve approximately 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of marijuana. The
applicant's accomplice has testified that the applicant's family
have accompanied the applicant on these trips and his daughter allowed
house to be used to store and transfer the drugs. Furthermore, two
testified that large amounts of money were involved in the drug
that were transported back to the applicant. In this case, the
involved in the commission of a serious offence that, if successfully
committed, would likely have resulted in the receipt of a material or
benefit by the individuals and the group of individuals involved in the
Toews did admit that Goulet met the normal mandatory
"The Act requires that I consider whether the offender
has social or family
ties in Canada. I recognize the family ties of the applicant in Canada,
the fact that the applicant's parents, brother, sister, and wife remain
"The Act also requires that I consider whether the
foreign entity or its
prison system presents a serious threat to the offender's security or
rights. I note Mr. Goulet's medical condition, specifically his bipolar
and the significant weight loss that appears to have taken place since
Issuing his decision, Toews stated:
"Having considered the unique facts and circumstances of
and the factors enumerated in section 10, I do not believe that a
achieve the purposes of the Act."
In response to the application by Mr. Goulet for a
judicial review of his
decision, the Minister submitted that "it is possible to understand the
the decision from the reasons provided and that [the Minister's]
discretion is sufficiently broad that judicial deference is owed."
The purposes of the current act
in deciding on a request for transfer are rehabilitation of the
offender and the
administration of justice. The Minister clearly does not address how
purposes are not met in the Goulet case. His argument did not withstand
scrutiny of judicial review and he was asked to reconsider his
the merits and in accordance with the requirements of the Act."
The Court's Ruling
In its review of the Minister's decision
the Court ruled that the Minister acted unreasonably in denying
transfer and was eliminating any ability for the Court to review his
by not providing any real justification for his decision. This is
it shows that the Harper government is already operating on the basis
changes it has put forward in Bill C-10 that would allow the Minister
determine, based completely on his personal belief rather than on the
objective criteria determined by public bodies to establish reasonable
or evidence, if the transfer would be a threat to "public safety." The
ruled that Toews had to re-consider the request according to the
provide reasons for his decision so the Court could consider them to
if they conformed with the statutes concerned.
In its ruling the Court stated: "In public regulation of
this sort there is no
such thing as absolute and untrammeled 'discretion,' that is that
action can be
taken on any ground or for any reason that can be suggested to the mind
administrator; no legislative Act can, without express language, be
contemplate an unlimited arbitrary power exercisable for any purpose,
capricious or irrelevant, regardless of the nature or purpose of the
Fraud and corruption in the Commission may not be mentioned in such
statutes but they are always implied as exceptions. 'Discretion'
implies good faith in discharging public duty; there is always a
within which a statute is intended to operate; and any clear departure
lines or objects is just as objectionable as fraud or corruption. Could
applicant be refused a permit because he had been born in another
or because of the colour of his hair? [T]he legislature cannot be so
In addressing the apparent contradiction in the
Minister's ruling and the
facts, the Court stated: "The information given to the Minister almost
favoured Mr. Goulet's transfer to Canada. The Minister was seemingly
concerned with the circumstances of the crime but even those details
connected to any of the considerations set out in the Act. The Minister
Goulet with a recitation of some of the relevant facts and a bare
that ran contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence."
Addressing the significance of Toews' refusal to provide
reasons for his
decision the Court stated:
"The Act specifically imposes a duty on the Minister to
Those reasons must be sufficient to allow a reviewing Court to
the decision-maker made his decision and to determine whether the
is within the range of reasonable and acceptable."
The ruling concluded: "In short, one of the purposes for
reasons is to allow
for meaningful judicial review. It is not enough to say that the
have been considered. Some assessment of the evidence is necessary for
Court to determine if the ultimate conclusion is reasonable in the
sense that it
was actually based on the relevant statutory considerations. The
sufficient of a bare conclusion would immunize every decision from
judicial review and permit administrative decisions that are arbitrary
Canada's "We Oppose Torture Unless It Is
Useful to Save Lives"
against any Canadian involvement with torture in Canada or abroad.
There have been three exchanges in the last week during
between opposition MPs and Government Ministers on the use of
obtained through torture. These come following news that in December of
2010 the Harper government through its Minister of Public Safety Vic
issued a directive to the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service
use information gained from torture. The directive issued to CSIS read:
situations where a serious risk to public safety exists, and where
lives may be
at stake, I expect and thus direct CSIS to make the protection of life
property its overriding priority, and share the necessary information
described and qualified -- with appropriate authorities."
The exchange in the Parliament frames a "policy debate
on torture" to
reverse well-known positions making torture unacceptable under any
circumstances. It is an issue that was sorted out under the
international rule of
following humankind's experience with nazi-fascism. Despite the fact
verdict on the unacceptable use of torture no matter what the
was already rendered, the covert agencies of the U.S. imperialists, the
and other former colonial powers and the dictatorships they
various parts of the world to do their bidding have always used these
techniques. Now that they are on the offensive on the world scale, they
made this covert use of torture overt official policy or, at least, the
topic of a
"policy debate." The aim of such a debate is to allegedly look at the
cons of this or that practice and quote public safety as the
justification for the
immoral declaration that the end justifies the means. The stand
already taken that No Means No! is not even acknowledged. Instead we
placed into the moral turpitude which asks you to eat a fellow
passenger in a
lifeboat or to let your mother die in order to let your children live.
it is argued, she has already lived her life but they have their lives
them. Similarly workers are asked to make concessions to the demands of
monopolies for unfettered management rights. They are told to look at
situation as if it is a fire and you have to decide which children you
save in the fire. You are told that it is better to save some than none
The fact that no fireman worthy of the name goes to fight a fire
which children he or she should save is not even considered. A modern
fireman goes to fight a fire with a well-organized contingent
and trained to save people first, building second and so on. On this
firefighters perform miracles. Should their starting point be what the
elites are suggesting in their so-called policy debates, then the time
is not far
off when individual firemen get to wander about wondering whether they
should go to the fire at all lest they themselves be injured.
Those who demand respect for the rule of law and
rejection of torture are
nonetheless led to argue for expediency -- that they cannot reject
which could save lives wondering if it comes out of torture. Clearly,
constitutes rule of law has been badly eroded and unless this is
consideration, upholding an abstraction called rule of law will only
to frustration in the form of hopelessness, helplessness and
policy debate must be rejected and the stand No Means No! must guide
considerations on this issue.
For the government to think that Canadians will accept
its "We oppose
torture unless it is useful to save lives" doubletalk is unbelievable.
are left to wonder how the government gets away with such a position
it puts forward as its new raison d'etat -- the justification
these things are needed to safeguard the state against internal and
threats. According to the logic of the ruling elite which controls the
increase their wealth in competition with all others of like kind, the
permanent and must be defended in perpetuity while citizens come and
is not the citizens that define the state and its role, but the state
that defines the
citizens according to whether they fit in to the conception of national
which serves the ruling elite. To defend these interests the executive
puts police powers at its disposal, including the intelligence agencies
operate at home and abroad. The logic which was said to inform this
practice at one time was that these agencies were to be permitted to
commit crimes in the line of duty, so long as the crimes had what is
called "reasonable limits" which is to say that they were to be engaged
for purposes of impeding the commission of a greater crime and for that
purpose only. However, as time goes by, the world has witnessed public
authorities engaging in revenge-seeking, as well as public servants,
special forces and publicly paid private contractors acting with
impunity. This then is how torture is also justified. Two principles
are said to contradict one another: the opposition to torture and the
saving of lives in which the saving of many lives trumps the damage to
one life -- the one being tortured.
In the political opinion of the Communist Party of
Leninist), Canadians should speak out against this pragmatic rendering
it means to uphold the international convention against torture. It is
and pushes medieval morality lectures to justify what cannot be
Arguments about exceptional circumstances used to promote crimes
humanity will never provide security to the state, no matter how many
are tortured in the name of the greater good. The entire premise is
immoral, self-serving and nothing short of nazi. That was the verdict
history. There is no need to revisit it.
Only the Imperialists Have Ever
Put Nazis into Power in Iran
On February 5, the Globe
Mail monopoly media printed
an article describing how Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird compared
statements by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini to Adolf
1925 book Mein Kampf, in which Hitler outlined his plans to
over Europe. Khameini had allegedly compared the state of Israel to a
"cancerous tumour" and Iranian officials followed by stating that Iran
defend itself against any aggression directed against its own
latter statement was in reference to the continuing threats being made
Iran by the U.S. imperialists and Israel, including nuclear threats.
President Obama entered office in 2008 pledging "to use all elements of
American power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon."
continues to make similar threats. For example, on January 17, 2008,
declared that "all options at Israel's disposal are legitimate in
and that a missile tested by Tel Aviv was "capable of carrying an
'unconventional payload,'" an obvious reference to the nuclear warheads
is known to possess.
Not surprisingly, Baird made his Nazi-related comments
in Tel Aviv,
where he was ending a week-long visit to the aggressor state of Israel.
the Israel visit, Baird crowed like a little schoolboy that Canada is
staunchest ally" and "greatest friend," indicating that no matter what
state of Israel commits against the Palestinian and other peoples of
East, including a nuclear attack against Iran, the warmongering Harper
dictatorship will not raise a single word of criticism. Israel acquired
nuclear weapons in 1967 and is believed to currently possess up to 400
warheads. Israel has a long history of war crimes and since 1955 has
cited in 42 resolutions passed by the United Nations, all of which have
vetoed by its funder and protector, the United States. Israel's recent
on the Gaza Strip alone represent blatant violations of international
humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard
obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws
These include collective punishment, targeting civilians, and
Baird's mention of Nazis in relation to Iran is straight
history because the only Nazis ever put into power in Iran were placed
in 1953 by the U.S. and British imperialists. In 1951, Iran's oil
controlled by British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now British
Petroleum), was nationalized by the Iranian Parliament. Britain
world-wide boycott of Iranian oil and blockaded the Persian
the Strait of Hormuz, just as the U.S. imperialists are doing today.
to the CIA's own declassified documents, the CIA bribed street thugs,
politicians, and Iranian army officers to launch a propaganda campaign
democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad
Mossadegh and his government, staging riots, and marching on his
Other CIA-paid men were brought to Teheran in buses and trucks and took
over the streets, just like Nazi brownshirts. Over 800 people were
killed as a
On August 19, 1953, U.S. and British intelligence
the overthrow of Mossadegh and installed Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi as
who remained in power until he
was overthrown in a popular revolt in 1979. Nazis and fascists played a
role in the coup. Mossadegh was replaced as Prime Minister by known
General Fazlollah Zahedi, who held that office until August 1955.
had attempted to establish a pro-Nazi government in Iran during the
World War. Bahram Shahrokh, a trainee of Joseph Goebbels and Berlin
Radio's Persian-language program announcer during the Nazi rule, became
director of propaganda. Mr. Sharif-Emami, who also had spent some time
jail for his pro-Nazi activities in the 1940s, assumed several
positions after the
1953 coup, including Secretary General of the Oil Industry, President
Senate and Prime Minister (twice).
Baird's disinformation about the
Nazis is an obvious attempt to paint Iran
as an aggressor state. This is part of the imperialist plan, led by the
demonize Iran and influence world opinion in order to justify an
attack. The main target of the propaganda is disinformation about
nuclear program. To set the record straight, first, there is no
Iran's program is directed toward building nuclear weapons. Second,
the right to develop whatever weapons it chooses in order to defend
aggression. Third, the United States, which sets itself as the "moral
of the world, is the only country ever to use nuclear weapons against
country (i.e., the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan) and
5,000 nuclear warheads. The U.S., along with its agents in Canada and
elsewhere, is trying to instigate a military confrontation with Iran,
additional warships and special forces into the region, using drones in
airspace and numerous other provocations. Iran has not invaded anyone
hundreds of years, and both the U.S. and the International Atomic
Agency admit that Iran has no nuclear weapons. All this
constant barrage of war propaganda against Iran by Baird and others,
is itself a crime against the peace, is unending.
Government Uses Blackwater Mercenaries to
Train Special Forces
There are many things Canadians need to know about what
is taking place in Canada and abroad
but little attention is paid to them or their significance. One of
these things is
the Harper government's justification for the use of a private company
Canadian special forces. This private company gained its notoriety
name Blackwater, but changed it to Xe to distance itself from the
connected to what it does. It is notorious for its use of illegal
achieve results which favour the private interests it represents. The
government's justification for using Blackwater is that it must give
the best training there is. It immediately raised the bogeyman that
opposes this decision opposes the safety of Canadian forces. This use
of sophistry makes
impossible to have a rational discussion on the fundamental issue --
special forces do and why they do it.
For the Harper government there is no problem. It likes
the results and it
likes the methods. For the Opposition there is a quandary. Does the
want the results of what the special forces do, but not the methods
used to get
these results? They will have to sort out this quandary for themselves.
San Diego, California, against a Blackwater training facility,
September 13, 2008. The demonstration also marked the first anniversary
of a massacre committed by Blackwater mercenaries in Nisour Square,
Baghdad, in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed. (OBRag.com)
For Canadians, there is no quandary. They do not like
the results and they
do not like the methods used to attain those results. Canadians want
they want security and they want the rights of all to be upheld. If
that is the
starting point of consideration, there are ways to achieve those
cannot be done by keeping the fundamental issue of whose interests are
and who decides in the shade and then asking people to support one side
another which they have had no role whatsoever in setting.
Printed below is the exchange in the Parliament on
February 1 which
Harper government's justification.
Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi-Temiscamingue, NDP):
Speaker, the Department of National Defence has awarded over half a
dollars in contracts to the mercenary group Xe Services, formally known
Blackwater, whose reputation was so tainted that its management had to
change its name. That is not all. Xe Services also received $1.8
contracts from the public works department. Blackwater often made the
headlines for its many violations of international law and human rights.
Can the minister confirm and justify the awarding of
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC):
Speaker, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces
necessary steps to ensure that the men and women of the Canadian forces
access to the best training forces available and the best training
that includes, typically, providing our own trainers. However,
does involve contracting outside trainers when it is the most
The type of training provided by Xe is highly
specialized. It is
operationally essential. In fact, it allows Canadian personnel
international missions, including military police, special forces and
operational support, to have that best training possible.
Christine Moore: Mr.
Speaker, we are talking about $2.4 million in taxpayers' money that was
to a private enterprise with a dubious reputation. The government
ashamed of itself for using the services of a mercenary group that
think it is above the law. Our armed forces are among the best in the
and we are recognized around the globe for how well our soldiers are
Why is the government employing a group with a
reputation as cowboys
to train our troops, when we should be training our soldiers to promote
Canadian values like obeying international law?
Speaker, that kind of histrionics is absolutely inaccurate.
As I mentioned a moment ago, we give our Canadian Forces
possible training to prepare them for mission success, to prepare them
complex, dangerous overseas missions in some cases. When it is our
forces and our military police, we want to ensure they are best
take on those challenges.
I will never apologize for providing the necessary
resources to give them
that best opportunity to succeed and come home safe to their families
pride and the support of this government and the Canadian people behind
Pseudoscience in the Service of
Myth of the "Aggressive Gene"
The monopoly media recently made much to-do of a study
a European philosophical journal which concluded that the main cause of
is not imperialism but a genetically determined male warrior instinct.
study's pseudoscientific conclusions originate in research by Nazi
conducted to justify the Reich's murderous policies at home and in the
occupied territories. The author's field of study, known as
psychology, emerged from the study
of animal behavior or ethology,
was established as a separate branch of biology in the 1930s by
biologists, notably Konrad Lorenz. Lorenz joined the Nazi Party in 1938
accepted a university research chair in genetics under the Nazi regime.
Basic genetic research was important for the Reich's
ideology, which Lorenz fully supported. In his application for Nazi
membership, Lorenz wrote: "My whole scientific work is devoted to the
of the National Socialists." Lorenz's research openly supported ideas
hygiene, i.e., state-sanctioned policies mandating that only certain
individuals should be allowed to procreate in order to create and
"superior race." One of his main theoretical assumptions was that all
social behavior is instinctually directed toward species preservation,
preservation of the so-called Aryan race, a blatant attempt to justify
The myth of an aggressive gene is a recurring theme of
propaganda. In August 2006, a New Zealand scientist claimed that the
indigenous Maori people of New Zealand carried an aggressive or warrior
gene, an attempt to explain away the Maori people's continuing fight
hereditary rights. In 2008, California biologists purportedly showed
that in the
course of history, the most aggressive group was "singled out by
selection," i.e., was "superior," providing a pseudoscientific
rationale for U.S.
domination. In 2009, a notorious psychology professor from University
Western Ontario, speaking at a racist U.S. conference on "Preserving
Civilization," stated that Muslims have an aggressive personality and
amenable to reason, clearly implying that state attacks on Muslims are
necessary and inevitable.
The imperialists also propagate a "more reasonable" view
that genes do not
determine behavior but do create a predisposition.
In 1992, a
suggested that an XYY chromosome anomaly in males caused criminal
behavior, a genetic connection long sought by eugenicists. This claim
retracted but was then recycled in the watered-down form that genes may
determine criminal behavior but predispose for it. This is more
In fact, assumptions that a specific gene or genes affect, cause, or
behaviours of any kind to the next generation are nonsense. As three
U.S. biologists commented: "No one has ever been able to relate any
of human social behavior to any particular gene or set of genes and no
ever suggested an experimental plan for doing so. Thus all statements
the genetics of human behavior are purely speculative."
Konrad Lorenz continued his Nazi-inspired research and
the Second World War, partly funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
took a similar path. Lorenz
supposedly regretted his Nazi past but
fundamental ideas of innate aggression and species preservation at all
never changed. In the prologue of his 1963 book, On Aggression,
fighting instinct in beast and man which is directed against members of
same species." In his 1973 book, Civilized Man's Seven Deadly
Sins, Lorenz declared that "Our sympathy with the asocial
defective...endangers the security of the non-defective," a view that
points toward concentration camp extermination of "asocial defectives."
1973, in recognition of his long and loyal service justifying the
Nazism and imperialism, Lorenz was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology
1. "Evolutionary psychology" (EP)
falsely assumes that
all human nature
is the product of a set of genetically inherited behaviours that have
useful to human survival. EP is a form of genetic determinism, the idea
genes decide everything, especially what humans "must" do in order to
EP is based on the naturalistic fallacy that what animals do is
which is also the foundation of eugenics, the pseudoscience that
human beings can be improved through controlled breeding.
2. Rose, Steven, Lewontin, Richard and
Kamin, Leon. Not
Genes. Penguin. p. 251.
3. A "gene" was originally conceived
of as a particle
hereditary traits from parent to offspring. Later, it became clear that
particles did not exist but that such functions were performed by
4. One example is Robert Ardrey. In
his 1961 book, African
Genesis, Ardrey argued that war and interpersonal aggression was
driving force behind human evolution. In his 1963 book, The
Imperative, he argued that both animals and man had an internal
to take, hold and defend a particular area, a notion similar to the
of lebensraum. In the 1980s, U.S. neo-Nazi groups actually
initiated a movement called the Northwest Territorial Imperative which
on all neo-Nazis to move to five northern states and declare them an
For Your Information
Use of Information
Obtained from Torture
February 7, 2012
NDP MP Jack Harris said, "The public safety minister has
directed CSIS to
use information that has been extracted through torture. As long as
there is a
market for information derived from torture, torture will exist. Why is
government getting Canada into the torture business?"
Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews replied to the
question with this
stellar example of what is nowadays passed off as "ambiguity."
"[I]nformation obtained by torture is always discounted.
problem is whether one can safely ignore the information if Canadian
property are at stake," the not so apt Mr. Toews said.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae then asked Minister Toews
for "the exact
wording of the directive that [the Minister] issued to CSIS employees?
he also explain how it is that the directive that he is putting forward
is in any
way compatible with Canada's obligations under international law and
ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada? It is critical that those two
clearly made to the minister who just gave the answer."
Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and
then came to the rescue of the maladroit Mr. Toews.
"Mr. Speaker, we need to be clear. Canada does not
condone torture, we
do not engage in torture and CSIS and its employees are bound by
law. The minister of course clarified what I would hope the leader of
opposition and the third party would agree with, which is that, in
where a serious risk to public safety exists and where lives may be at
CSIS should make the protection of life and property its overriding
"Of course we oppose the use of torture but we believe
security agencies should prioritize the protection of life."
So, to be "very clear," Kenney "clearly " said that we
torture unless it is committed to save
February 8, 2012
Mrs. Nycole Turmel (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):
Speaker, the Conservatives need to rein in their Reform Party wing,
those in cabinet.
Yesterday, the Minister of Public Safety said,
"information obtained by
torture is always discounted. However...". What does he mean by
There is no however and no but. People either condone or they do not.
is it: no however, no if or no but?
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC):
Speaker, Canada's position, the Conservative government's position, has
always been clear. We do not condone torture. We do not engage in
a country. CSIS, its employees and all of our defence security
clear on that and they are bound by Canada's laws. Our government
all of our officials to abide by those laws.
We will always protect Canada's security and Canada's
Nycole Turmel: Mr. Speaker, I must say that the
is interesting. If that is the case, will he withdraw his directive?
Not only is it immoral to obtain information by torture,
information is often false or incorrect. We know that a person who is
tortured will say anything to make the torture stop. The minister has
the door to abuse, torture and wrongdoing, as we saw in the Maher Arar
Just a transfer to a country where torture is acceptable. No big deal.
Does the minister realize that this does not make sense?
Again, will he
withdraw the directive --
Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat that
Canada does not
condone the use of torture and does not engage in this practice.
What the hon. member opposite appears to be indicating
is that, under no
circumstances, if information came into the possession of Canadian
that would stop the death, a mass death perhaps, such as a bomb threat
Air Canada Centre, that we would be forced to refuse to use any
that would save lives. That is not the position of this government.
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr.
problem is that information from torture is unreliable. Has the
learned nothing from the Maher Arar affair?
We know there are countries and agencies that use
torture as a matter of
course but, instead of moving to stop this, the government turns a
That is what it really means when the Minister of Public Safety directs
to use information extracted through torture.
Torture will continue if the information keeps being
Will the minister acknowledge, as his predecessor did as
minister, that torture is morally wrong and information extracted
torture is unreliable?
Hon. Vic Toews (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
I cannot be any clearer. Our government does not condone torture and
certainly does not engage in torture.
However, when we have information that Canadian lives
are at risk we
will act without delay. Canadians expect no less. The security of
paramount. We will use information that comes to our attention that may
the lives of Canadians, and we will do it without dispatch.
Jack Harris: Mr. Speaker, torture is prohibited
Criminal Code of Canada and the United Nations Convention against
to which we are a signatory.
The minister claims not to condone torture and then,
however, he opens
the door wide for other countries to use torture and for us to use that
In 2009 the Conservative public safety minister said,
"If there's any
indication...that torture may have been used, that information is
Why has the government flip-flopped and thrown open the
doors to use
immoral and unreliable information extracted through torture?
Vic Toews: Mr. Speaker, the member is someone
who, if he knew
there was a plane with some of his constituents on it, men women and
children, and he obtained information which came from a questionable
he would do nothing. That is the position of the NDP. The NDP would not
take the appropriate action to ensure that the lives of Canadians were
That is why those members are over there. They are not
fit to be trusted
with the security of Canadians.
February 9, 2012
Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor-Tecumseh, NDP): Mr.
there is no compromising when it comes to torture. Either we are for it
are against it. The government says that it does not employ torture,
but it is
okay if others do so. The Conservatives would use information obtained
cost. The Conservatives cannot ignore international conventions. The
government is not above the laws of Canada. The law is the law.
Where is this government's respect for Canadian law?
Speaker, our government has always obeyed the law, and our position is
clear: Canada does not condone the use of torture and does not engage
practice. That is clear. CSIS and its employees are subject to Canadian
That continues to be our government's position.
Joe Comartin: Mr. Speaker, that is not the
Yesterday, the Minister of National Defence acted
suggesting that the Air Canada Centre was a prime target for
the Minister of Public Safety soon followed with his own hypothetical
scenarios about planes full of Newfoundlanders being blown up. All of
back up the government's irresponsible message to other countries that
is in the market for information based on torture.
The government should oppose torture, no question about
it. When will it
rescind the directive?
Peter MacKay: Mr.
Speaker, let me be clear again, Canada does not condone torture and
use torture. However, Canada will use information to save lives.
Let us talk about logic. Yesterday, the NDP justice
critic stood outside the
House and basically accepted the position of the government. Then he
back inside the House and tried to suggest some other high-handed
That is something that confuses Canadians.
Our position is clear. Our position sends a strong
message to those
working in the defence and security sector and to our allies.
Joe Comartin: Mr. Speaker, it is not a message
That is not where we are at. The Conservatives have lost their way on
The government is now saying that torture is okay. So
much for being the
law-and-order government. In this case it may as well torture people
in Canada by the message it's sending out.
Then yesterday, or the day before, the Minister of
Justice was out publicly
advocating for people to shoot warning shots. We heard that prisoners
hang themselves. We heard that from the Conservatives. People should
from the hip. Torture is okay. Those are the messages we are getting.
not the Wild West; this is Canada.
Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, what a litany of
convoluted facts. The NDP justice critic's words yesterday were so
would take a troop of boy scouts to try to figure out all the knots
that he tied
The reality is Canadians know exactly where the
government stands, so do
our defence and security officials. That is what is important. That
coming from the member opposite is not helping to keep Canadians safe
Pragmatic "Policy Debate" in the Media
Walking the Moral High Wire
Between Terrorism and Torture
Andrew Coyne, Postmedia News, February 10, 2012 -
The general policy that Canadian security agents are, in
pursuit of their duties, forbidden to knowingly use evidence obtained
remains in effect.
The issue with regard to torture is not whether it is an
evil, but whether
it is a necessary evil. The depravity of inflicting terrible pain upon
prisoner is self-evident. But the case against it is not only one of
efficacy. Information given up under torture might well have been
less repugnant means, while the information to which torture uniquely
the key is as often as not unreliable: prisoners under torture, it is
observed, will say anything to make it stop.
But these are matters of empiricism. To seek refuge
behind the claim that
"torture doesn't work" is a moral evasion: for what if it did? Indeed,
never worked, it would seem strange that so many countries make use of
possibly prisoners will say anything, including the truth. Conversely,
instead the comfort of the absolute, declaring that torture can never
even if does work, is to leave oneself exposed to the classic "ticking
bomb" defence. If you knew with certainty that by the use of torture
save thousands of lives, it would be morally obtuse to refuse, and
those thousands to death. And let us not pretend in this day and age
a grotesque scenario is inconceivable.
The answer to the "ticking time bomb" defence is rather
that you could not
know such information with certainty -- not before you'd actually
poor soul. You might have the wrong guy. He might not talk. He might
you a pack of lies. There might not be any ticking time bomb. It might
been stopped by other means. There are a hundred possibilities other
one in which torture, and torture alone, yields the one indispensable
information without which the bomb would, without a doubt, have gone
To cross as bright a moral line as torture, you need a lot more than a
But that is not the issue that confronts us in the
controversy that has
consumed Parliament for much of the past week: whether it is ever
to make use of information obtained by torture in other countries, as
forces were instructed in a recently unearthed government directive. To
clear, the general policy that Canadian security agents are, in the
pursuit of their duties, forbidden to knowingly use evidence obtained
remains in effect. The directive instructs that "in exceptional
where the threat is urgent and there is not time to verify that the
received was not obtained by torture, they may nevertheless make use of
still wouldn't be admissible as evidence to convict someone in court,
might be used, say, to evacuate a railway station.
Isn't this just the "ticking time bomb" argument again?
No. The fallacy
there, remember, was that you could not know in advance whether by
torture you would find the ticking time bomb. But in this case the
the reverse: you've been handed the ticking time bomb, and are
torture was the source. And if it was, well, the torture has already
Someone else has already crossed that bright line. They could not know
advance what information their prisoner possessed, and as such were not
justified in using torture to obtain it; but since they have done so,
you are now
in a position to judge its value. You'd still want to be careful how
it, for the reasons discussed. But would you really just ignore it
Not convinced? Let's leave the ticking time bomb
scenarios out of it.
Suppose, rather, we were talking about some life-saving medical
suppose that this, too, was derived from torture. Actually, we do not
suppose: exactly such a dilemma has confronted modern-day medical
researchers with regard to the hideous human experiments carried out by
Nazis. These were almost unimaginably barbaric, and generally
pseudo-scientific rubbish, performed with as little regard for
as for human decency. Yet here and there, for example in the field of
hypothermia, they seem to have yielded some genuinely useful data:
information that could save lives. Are we obliged to discard that
altogether, because of its tainted provenance?
Of course, there's an important difference in the two
situations: the Nazis
are no longer with us, whereas today's practitioners of torture are
in action, in countries around the world. It is legitimate to be
Canada's willingness to use the information they produce would, in
create a "demand" for torture (though I rather doubt the supply would
in our absence) or indeed open the door to the sort of nod-and-wink
outsourcing of brutality we have seen before. That would certainly be a
concern if it were generally the practice to use such information, but
be ruled out even in the more circumscribed policy the government has
Still, unless we are prepared to say that, having
received word of a plot to,
say, blow up a plane over Montreal tomorrow, we would do nothing with
on the off chance that it might have been obtained through torture, I
have to live with that possibility.
Why Canada's New
Torture-Friendly Policy Won't Work
Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, February 10, 2012 -
News that Canada has given its imprimatur to torture
came and went with
a minimum of fuss.
There was the usual one-day brouhaha in the Commons
after The Canadian
Press revealed last week that, in 2010, the government quietly reversed
policy requiring Canada's security agencies to stay away from
gleaned through torture.
Predictably perhaps, Amnesty International attacked the
move. But in most
newspapers, the story was back-page news.
Many Canadians seemed to tacitly buy the so-called
explanation - that torture is used only to prevent immediate
that any security agency that refused to act on such information,
derived, would be derelict in its duty.
Which, in its own limited way, is true. If, for
notoriously ruthless secret police told the Canadian Security
Service that a bomb was about to explode on Parliament Hill, it would
sense to evacuate the buildings first and ask questions about the
of that information later.
However, ticking-time-bomb cases are so rare as to be
Countries like Morocco that use torture employ it not just for
threats but as a standard investigative technique.
Thus Syrian jailers tortured Canadian Maher Arar in 2002
-- not because
they believed he was about to blow up downtown Damascus, but because
that's what Syrian jailers do.
Naturally, Arar told his torturers whatever they wanted
to hear. His
"confession" was then passed on to Canada.
But, as Justice Dennis O'Connor's inquiry into the
affair later discovered
(and CSIS, to its credit, confirmed), the confession was useless --
just wasn't true.
And that is the practical problem with torture. It is
Security agencies presumably understand this. But they
want access to
information obtained under torture anyway.
Why? I think the reasons are largely bureaucratic.
must produce information if they are to justify their existence.
produces information. Therefore torture is valuable.
The fact that all or some of this information may be
In 2008, for instance, then-CSIS head Jim Judd warned
that it would be impossible to prosecute so-called security-certificate
against suspected terrorists without recourse to information from
states that use
Judd was using this argument to justify the practice.
But his statement also
revealed the paucity of real evidence CSIS had against five Muslim men
detained under security certificates that the agency wanted to deport.
Tellingly, the courts ended up freeing two of those men.
As former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci found
when he headed
a judicial inquiry into security, Canadian agencies have, at times,
intelligence-gathering to foreign torturers.
Thus the RCMP submitted questions to Syrian
interrogators who were
torturing Canadian citizen Abdullah Almalki in 2002. Around the same
CSIS agents travelled to Egypt to get information about another
Ahmad El Maati, who was being tortured there. Iacobucci concluded that
Canadian officials were complicit in the torture of both.
At first glance, the government's new policy appears to
preclude this kind
of mistreatment. Information obtained under torture is to be used only
"exceptional circumstances" when lives and property are at risk.
But who decides when circumstances are exceptional? Who
calculation that lives are at risk?
The answer is that the security agencies do. Just as
they did with Almalki
and El Maati, just as they always do. Torture lives on. It is official
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