From the Halifax News, some important information about the difference between Canadian privacy law and that of our neighbors to the south–a difference that is now being eroded due to the push for “deep integration”:
Individual privacy is best protected in Canada and under threat in the United States and the European Union as governments introduce sweeping surveillance and information-gathering measures in the name of security and border control, an international rights group said in a report released yesterday.
Canada, Greece and Romania had the best privacy records of 47 countries surveyed by London-based watchdog Privacy International. Malaysia, Russia and China were ranked worst.
Both Britain and the United States fell into the lowest-performing group of “endemic surveillance societies.”
“The general trend is that privacy is being extinguished in country after country,” said Simon Davies, director of Privacy International. “Even those countries where we expected ongoing strong privacy protection, like Germany and Canada, are sinking into the mire.”
He cites the CIA’s accessing the banking records of Canadians through the SWIFT banking information system, the Canadian no-fly list, and the Toronto Transit Commission’s installation of security cameras as examples of the erosion of privacy rights.
He also decried the increasing number of programs involving the United States, which he said unfortunately has no federal privacy law.
“What’s happening, is that Canadian information, sensitive information, is flowing across the border in increasing volumes,” Davies said.
“Frankly, that the sort of situation where government should put pressure on the U.S. government to protect that information legally,” he said, “But it’s not doing so.”
And that’s what worries me. Our government has a long and sorry history of caving to that elephant just to the south of us.
Back when Dr. Ewen Cameron was doing his “brainwashing” torture experiments on behalf of the CIA, no one stopped him. He wasn’t even a Canadian citizen, but he was allowed to torture Canadians in the name of a grotesque travesty of science. Our government never raised hell on their behalf. Too afraid to confront that behemoth. The CIA settled out of court the day before they were to go on trial, for a then-unheard-of $750,000. Our government also agreed to a payoff–in exchange for the victims not being able to sue them or the hospital in which the experiments took place.
Frankly, they should be sued. For being so prostrate and intransigent and just plain feckless. Their job–for which we hire them by voting in elections–is to take responsibility for the safety and security and well-being of all Canadians. They are our public servants, and they fell down on the job. Why? Because Uncle Sam told them to bow. I doubt if they even asked how low; they just all kowtowed on command. Or more accurately, they kowtowed without even waiting for the command.
Now, this is very strange, because none of us ever voted for Uncle Sam. Back in 1812, our troops torched the White House rather than let the Yanks take our land. Canada is the only country that ever did that and got away with it. Tucker Carlson and Ann Coulter to the contrary, we were not lucky, nor were the Yanks benevolent–we were fierce, we prevailed, and we fought ’em to a draw. We did not cede so much as an inch of our border to them. The Americans learned to respect us as they seem not to have respected any other country since. Maybe that was because it was relatively early in their history, and they did not yet have the Military-Industrial Complex that rules them today. Whatever the reason was, though, the War of 1812 defined us and set us apart from them. We fly the Maple Leaf today, and not the Stars and Stripes, because of that victory.
I went to university in Kingston, Ontario–a town storied for its role in that war, since the troops from nearby Fort Henry were part of our defence force. One of the martello towers that kept watch over our shore is very near the Queen’s University campus, and in spring, its moat is a carpet of violets. But that’s now. Back then, it was filled with water. It had to be: New York State is right across the lake from us.
I have friends in the States. How indignant would they be to know that our own government won’t protect us from theirs–which they rail against all the time too, because it tramples on their liberties as much as it does on those of people all over the world? Probably just as indignant as was Joe Rauh, the American lawyer Dr. Cameron’s Canadian victims engaged to sue the CIA on their behalf. They see us as different from them all right, but in an enviable way. They wish they had a government more like ours. Ours provides us with universal healthcare and schooling and a social safety net. And until recently, it wasn’t spying on us citizens. Theirs is now hellbent on doing away with what little it used to provide on all those fronts. Instead of serving the people, it serves its capitalist masters. And, oh yeah–to serve those masters better, it spies on the people. Its own people. And now, our people.
And if you think Dr. Cameron’s mad-scientist experiments were some kind of aberration and that all that shit is in the past and there is no sense bringing it up now, have I got news for you: they are still being used by the CIA today. As part of its current torture-interrogation manual, no less. Iraqis and Afghans, most of them innocent, have been subjected to the very tortures investigated by Ewen Cameron in Montreal. So have countless Southeast Asians and Latin Americans since the 1960s. Everywhere the war machine went, it used those techniques–often not so much to obtain useful information, but simply to ensure compliance and docility in the shocked populace it sought to suppress.
How ironic would it be if those horrors came back and were used against us Canadians?
Well, in a way, they have been. Just ask Maher Arar. Being a Canadian, and utterly innocent, didn’t spare him from the wrath of Uncle Sam. They sent him to Syria for an extended session of outsourced torture. Part of it involved extreme isolation, electroshock and mental torment strikingly similar to the kind researched by Ewen Cameron.
Our government has not stood up for Maher Arar any better than it did for Cameron’s victims. On the contrary: it was complicit in what happened to him. Project A-O Canada was the name of the sting that turned him over to the hands of his torturers. Basically, the Mounties gave his name to the US authorities to investigate. And our government did nothing to stop it, even though it was their duty to intervene on his behalf. Presumably it was because Arar was born in Syria, but I have a sneaking suspicion they’d have done it even if he were a native son. They have no pride that way.
Exactly what they expect to gain from all this, I have no idea. Unless maybe it’s kickbacks from the Military-Industrial-Espionage Complex. Which are also deeply illegal here. Just ask Brian Mulroney. Don’t expect an honest answer, though; the man’s not known for his honesty. His nickname is “Lyin’ Brian”, and his finest moment was when he burst into song with Ronnie Ray-Gun, another professional liar. And then promptly sold us down the river. (Guess who to.)
Shameful? Oh yeah. Surprising? Hardly. Like I said, our government is prostrate, intransigent and feckless. It has been for a very long time, and with but a few honorable exceptions (who were all promptly termed “anti-American” for telling it like it was).
Shit, we’re only Canadians. We only kicked ass and took names in the War of 1812, and the allies in both world wars would have lost if not for us. We were in it all from the beginning and to the hilt, but we were never imperialistic, unlike some countries I could name.
Look: I’m all for solidarity with my brothers and sisters south of the 49th Parallel, but I am not for “deep integration” and corporatist spying and RCMP-facilitated torture taxis to Syria (or wherever else they outsource that shit to). Call me funny, but I like sovereignty.
And now that I’ve sai
d that, I will probably be called “anti-American”, too.