A big embarrassment for my home and native land


Amy Goodman talks to the CBC about her unexpected detention at the border. See Raw Story for video of the whole interview with CBC’s Kathy Tomlinson.

I’m rarely ashamed to be a Canadian, but today is different. Today, one of my personal heroes and role models, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, was detained at the border. She was coming to British Columbia to speak out against war and promote her book, but that’s not how the uniformed stormtroopers saw it:

Goodman says Canadian Border Services Agency officials ultimately allowed her to enter Canada but returned her passport with a document demanding she leave the country within 48 hours.

Goodman, 52, known for her views opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told CBC News on Thursday that Canadian border agents asked her repeatedly what subjects she would cover at scheduled speaking engagements in Vancouver and Victoria.

Goodman said she told them she planned to speak about the debate over U.S. health care reform and the wars in Asia.

After much questioning, Goodman said the officials finally asked if she would be speaking about the 2010 Olympics.

“He made it clear by saying, ‘What about the Olympics?'” said Goodman. “And I said, ‘You mean when President Obama went to Copenhagen to push for the Olympics in Chicago?'”

“He said, ‘No. I am talking about the Olympics here in 2010.’ I said, ‘Oh I hadn’t thought of that,'” said Goodman.

“He said, ‘You’re saying you’re not talking about the Olympics?'”

“He was clearly incredulous that I wasn’t going to be talking about the Olympics. He didn’t believe me,” Goodman said.

See, this is the paranoia that goes with having a conservative government. Harpo & Co. are already under siege. The war in Afghanistan was never popular here, but Canadians being dutiful troop-supporters, the criticisms have all been very muted. Rather than do the really bold thing and declare NATO a relic of the Cold War past, Harpo has chosen to kiss ass and lick boots in Washington. And keep sending Canadians to die in a country that has been the downfall of every foreign power ever to invade it. (Alexander the Great is said to have died at Kandahar, which is supposedly named after him. Canadians are currently in the Kandahar province. Every so often one of them comes home in a box, and the region remains ungovernable. So, why are we there?)

And the Olympics are a special point of paranoia. The actual risk of terrorism in Canada is almost nil, and the likelihood of anything disrupting the games is vanishingly small. It would have been absolutely zero if we were not at war in Afghanistan against a phantom menace that never menaced us before. When he made Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore was struck by how laid back we were, and how little gun crime we had as a result. That’s Canada for you; we are not a nation of paranoiacs. We’re proud of our warm hearts and cool heads. We take special pride in our love of peace, and have sent peacekeepers on every mission that the UN has called upon us to do so.

But since Harpo & Co. run a minority parliament, and they are constantly in danger of being toppled by a non-confidence vote, it stands to reason that they want to keep up every possible façade that says “Look how well we Tories can do things”. And of course, what bigger one than the Vancouver/Whistler Olympics of 2010? Never mind that the Games are not their brainchild, and that the bid was won under a previous, Liberal government. Nor that the logistical masterpiece that is the longest Olympic torch run in history is going off without a hitch. (It’s also none of their doing.) No, Harpo’s selling point is the security angle, and he’s playing it to the hilt. In other words, once again, he’s appealing to a very un-Canadian sense of paranoia, not pride.

And that paranoia is why I’m not proud to be a Canadian today. When an innocent person like Amy Goodman, who has much in common with the best of Canadian values, is stopped at our border simply for being outspokenly anti-war (which I am too!), and accused of trying to foment terrorism against the Vancouver Olympics, all I can do is hang my head and wish that all these assclowns could be tossed out of office tomorrow.

Peacefully, of course.

PS: A Creative Revolution‘s own Pale Cold was on the Daily Kos with this, and a host of other things that suck about the situation. Don’t miss it!

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6 Responses to A big embarrassment for my home and native land

  1. Manaat says:

    What Olympics is this? Winter Olympics?

  2. ‘at’s the one. They’re losing popularity with the home town because of how they’re treating the homeless and just generally disrupting everything and trying to turn the place into a police state. Looks like they’re succeeding. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

  3. Jymn says:

    Get ready big time for embarrassment over the Cons’ handling of security 2010. Amy’s handling was just a taste of what is to come.

  4. Yep, if there’s anything I am afraid of, that’s it, all right.

  5. Crosslinked blog post: http://broughton.ca/bob-broughtons-blog-mainmenu-26/145-cbsa-4
    I’m working on a banner ad/bumper sticker that says, “I support the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”. Should have it available by Saturday afternoon.
    Sabina, where you say, “They’re losing popularity with the home town because of how they’re treating the homeless and just generally disrupting everything”, there’s some truth to this, but my thinking is, the 2010 Olympics has become totally about NBC, Visa, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, etc. and local people are just props. This arrangement suits the Campbell government just fine.

  6. Bob, thanks for that. Will check it out shortly.
    I’m not from BC, I’m from Ontario, but I find that the paranoia that has crept in at the federal level (and been adopted provincially by Campbell & Co.) is very worrying. As you say, it’s all about the Big Biz. While I love to watch the competitions themselves (up to a point), it’s become so commercialized as to be nauseating. Meanwhile, event coverage is now so fragmentary that it’s getting hopelessly confusing to watch. And of course, there are all those commercials–there are more minutes devoted to them than to any single competition. Somehow, I don’t think the sheer number of events alone is enough to explain this one!

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