The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Stupidity and Arrogance

It is fitting, perhaps, that when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke out in defence of his decision to hand over ten and a half million tax dollars to the terrorist Omar Khadr, it was from Hamburg, Germany, where he is attending a G20 summit. It is fitting because his argument displays a particular combination of stupidity and arrogance for which the German government is also notorious. I refer to the stupidity and arrogance of thinking that a country’s laws apply outside the boundaries of its own territory. Sadly, Justin Trudeau is not the only one in Canada who shares this combination of stupidity and arrogance. His apologists, toadies, sycophants, and butt-kissers, who are the pathetic and contemptible excuse for journalists in our country, have been sanctimoniously shoving out drivel about how Khadr’s “Charter rights” were violated and how he “deserves” this compensation all week ever since the news about the payoff was leaked. That the less-than-Solomonic solons who sit on our Supreme Court are also infected with this brain rot is evidenced by their ruling in 2010 that Khadr’s rights had been violated.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been part of Canada’s constitution since 1982. Note my wording carefully – part of Canada’s constitution. Far too many people in this country have gotten into the habit of equating the Charter with our constitution. It is not uncommon, for example, to hear people praise the father of the present Prime Minister for “giving us our constitution”. He did nothing of the sort and this kind of talk demonstrates incredibly sloppy thinking. Canada’s greatest constitutional expert, Eugene Forsey, used to complain about how people talked about our having gotten a “new constitution” in 1982 when the repatriated constitution was, in fact “the old constitution with knobs on.” The Charter is one of those knobs and it is not one that I am particularly fond of because, contrary to what the Prime Minister said in his defence, it does not protect all Canadians “even when it makes us uncomfortable.”

The Charter, for example, did not protect Ernst Zündel from the abominable treatment he received at the hands of our government during the premiership of Jean Chretien. Zündel, you might recall, was the German-born graphic artist and publisher who was charged and prosecuted, a little over thirty years ago, with spreading “false news.” The “false news” in question was the contents of a number of pamphlets he had published that presented a rather less-than-conventional account of the number of victims of the Holocaust and the intentions of the Third Reich during that whole nasty business. The pamphlets, dismissed by most people as kooky nonsense, did absolutely no harm except to the feelings of the oversensitive. Those who still revered the British tradition of liberty and justice upon which our country was built, easily recognized that if Canada was under the threat of a revived Hitlerism it came not from Zündel and his publications but from the attitude and actions of our government in putting a man on trial over the ideas he had published. The Supreme Court at the time agreed and stuck down the law under which Zündel had been charged as violating the Charter.

In 2003, however, Zündel, who had been living with his American wife in the United States for a couple of years, was deported here by the Yanks who claimed – probably falsely – that he had violated the terms of his visa. Our government then stuck him in a tiny isolation cell – 6 by 8 feet – and kept him in this hole, where bright lights were kept on around the clock, for two years. He was neither charged nor tried with any crime during this time – a judge heard evidence, that neither Zündel nor his attorney were given access to – that he posed a security threat, and he was deported to Germany.

We will get to what happened once he arrived in Germany in a moment. First, let us address the rather glaring problem of why this treatment of Zündel – far worse than what Khadr received and on Canadian soil to boot – did not violate the Charter.

Zündel received this treatment under a national security bill that Jean Chretien had rammed through Parliament in the fall of 2001 after the terrorist attack on the United States. The bill authorized the government to dish out this sort of treatment to anyone who was deemed to be a threat to national security. How could the Liberals, the party of the Charter, get away with passing a bill which so obviously tramples over basic Charter rights? It was easy. They set the bill to sunset in five years. Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives parliament and every provincial legislature the right to pass laws that violate the fundamental freedoms and legal rights enumerated in the Charter provided that those laws expire in five years. This would not have happened prior to 1982. The Charter made the rights and freedoms of Canadians less secure not more. As former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney once remarked it is not worth the paper it is printed on.

And yes, Zündel, although he only held landed immigrant status, having been turned down for citizenship repeatedly, was far more truly a Canadian than Omar Khadr. Khadr might have been born here, but he was never integrated into our society but was raised elsewhere to be an enemy of the civilization of which we are part. Zündel, on the other hand, regardless of whatever zany ideas he might have held, had moved here as a teenager, lived here for decades, and fully contributed to and participated in our society.

What was that you were saying the other week Justin about how you are “jealous” of “people who got to make the deliberate choice” and how “being able to choose it, rather than being Canadian by default, is an amazing statement of attachment to Canada” and “This is your country more than it is for others because we take it for granted”? Oh, I see, that only applies if the immigrants are brown-skinned and the Canadians who are born here are white-skinned, not the other way around.

At any rate, the Charter, whether it secures our rights as the Grits claim, or makes them less secure as is the case in reality, is part of Canada’s constitution. That makes it law in the Dominion of Canada but it does not govern elsewhere in the world. It was in Afghanistan that Omar Khadr, acting as a terrorist not a legitimate combatant, killed an American medic with a grenade just before being captured by the Americans. Afghanistan is not now and never has been in the past a part of the Dominion of Canada. After he was captured, he was taken to the American detention centre at their naval base in Guantanamo Bay. The Americans govern this base, which is located in Cuba, under a century old Lease Agreement. Neither Gitmo, the United States of America, nor Cuba is part of the Dominion of Canada. Neither Afghanistan nor Gitmo, therefore, is under Canadian law, constitutional or otherwise. It is absurd, therefore, to claim that anyone, Canadian citizen or otherwise, is protected by Canadian constitutional law – which is all that the Charter is – in either of these places. It is not only absurd but arrogant – the arrogance of asserting that our laws apply universally.

Twenty-three years ago, when an American teenager, Michael Fay, was sentenced to jail time, a fine, and a caning for vandalizing cars with graffiti and stealing road signs, the American government asked Singapore to be lenient on their delinquent citizen, because of his age, but at no point made the arrogant assertion that Singapore was violating Fay’s rights under the US Constitution. The Yanks, despite their talk about being the “first universal nation” and their world-wide reputation for arrogance, understood that their constitution only protects their citizens on their own soil.

Justin Trudeau, in claiming Charter protection for Khadr outside of Canada, has exceeded the legendary arrogance of the Yanks and approached that of the bloody Krauts. Germany promptly arrested Zündel, when he stepped down out of the plane after having been deported from Canada, charged him under their laws against Holocaust denial for material that had been posted on his website, and sentenced him to five years in prison. That his website was operated out of North America where he had been living did not faze them. The German government took the position that it has the right with its thought control laws to dictate to anyone living anywhere in the world what he may or may not put up on the internet. It has recently reiterated this position by threatening to fine social media outlets if they do not remove material that violates their idiotic and draconian laws.

It is arrogant enough to claim that your country’s laws protect its citizens everywhere in the world. It is far worse to claim the right to punish people for word and deeds that took place outside the borders of your country. Let us hope that Justin Trudeau hasn’t picked up any more of this German arrogance at the G20 summit. He has enough of his own as it is.


  1. “I refer to the stupidity and arrogance of thinking that a country’s laws apply outside the boundaries of its own territory.”
    But they do. At the very least a country’s laws do govern how that country’s government conducts itself outside its borders. The government and its agents are restricted in what they can and cannot do abroad by laws set up by the government. A government that signs a treaty opposing torture cannot then use the fruits of torture just because it happened outside of its country. A government that is restricted by law cannot break or allow its agents to break that law, just because the act happened outside of the country. Our government and its actions are governed by our law, and international agreements, no matter where they may choose to act. So when our government send agents to ask torturers to direct certain questions to Canadians while torturing them, our government is breaking our laws, and it doesn’t matter where this happens. The fact that agents of our government broke our laws abroad makes it a matter for our courts and they found that our agents had indeed acted in contravention to our laws as they stand today. So the lesson is that our government must act within the limits of our laws, no matter where they act. And that really makes sense to most people, but apparently not those on the right, or those who don’t actually appreciate that the law should be impartially applied to all citizens.
    As for Zundel. The fact that he was not a Canadian seems to have escaped your reasoning. Khadr was born here and is Canadian. Zundel was not and was not naturalized. Therefore your argument has no substance.
    As for the Americans. While they have no time for the average teenage ne’er-do-well, history is littered with examples of the US government intervening on behalf of corporate miscreants, foreign dictators and the authors of military mishaps to further US geo-political interests; so even that nonsense rings hollow. Also, if US law doesn’t apply outside of the US, then you need to explain the lawsuit filed in a Utah court against Khadr. Because that action seems to transgress borders.
    I feel your anger and bias are restricting your ability to think logically in this case.

    1. You have overlooked the fact that the involvement of CSIS and the Foreign Ministry in the interrogation of Khadr occurred during the same period of time in which Zündel received the treatment described in my essay. In other words the time period in which Chretien's national security bill that legalized what was done to Zündel was in effect. If the Charter's protections exist outside of Canada's borders then so does Section 33 of the Charter which makes Chretien's antiterrorism bill legal and therefore CSIS and the Foreign Ministry's involvement in the Gitmo interrogation legal. NB, I do not like the notwithstanding clause, which renders the Charter worthless. I do not think that Parliament and the provincial legislatures ought to have the right to temporarily set aside our rights and freedoms when they are inconvenient. I am more concerned, however, that the protection of our laws is secured to everyone - citizen or otherwise - where our laws actually govern, i.e., on our own soil, than that we insist that other governments act by our laws in the way they handle our citizens when they behave abominably bad abroad.

    2. So you don't like the idea that our laws protect a citizen like Khadr, but wish they were extended to protect a non-citizen like Zundel. Aaand you don't like the fact that our government and its agents are held to obey our laws when dealing with our citizens, just because those agents act abroad.
      Consistency isn't your strong point is it?
      The Harper government may well have been left with a mess, but they failed to act to clear it up and thus the clock on their culpability began ticking from the moment they failed to try and tidy up the Lib's mess. Also the decision by the SCoC regarding repatriation occurred well outside the period you are trying to use to excuse Harper's base-appeasing nastiness.