False Notions of Balance Between Security and Rights

29 Jan

from http://www.mlpc.ca
– Pauline Easton –

The Harper government is expected to introduce legislation Friday, January 30, that will boost the power of police and security agents to subject Canadians to arbitrary detention and restriction of their movement within a framework of criminalizing the “promotion or glorification of terrorism.”

In what was described as a “campaign-style” speech to Conservative Party supporters on January 25, Stephen Harper announced the forthcoming legislation saying, “These measures are designed to help authorities stop planned attacks, get threats off our streets, criminalize the promotion of terrorism, and prevent terrorists from travelling and recruiting others…. It will contain a range of measures to ensure that our police and security agencies have the tools they need to meet evolving threats, and keep Canadians safe.”

Rights are rights and security is security. You cannot balance two things of a different character. The relation between rights and security is not of two things on a scale. The affirmation of the one – rights – is the condition for the other – security. Security can be either enhanced or undermined depending on the manner in which rights are treated. Talk of a trade off is irrational, to say the least.

Despite this, false notions of a balance between the two abound in the commentary on the government’s yet-to-be-revealed “anti-terror” legislation. One of the most dangerous elements expected is the criminalization of the “promotion or glorification of terrorism.” Such legislation itself would be a crime against the rights of Canadians. To cover up the crime against rights, the false notion of balance is introduced. An article in the Ottawa Citizen on January 25 asks, “Can government balance security and civil rights?”

The government’s definition of “terrorism” at various times includes everything from what it calls Jihadists and Muslim extremists, to environmental protestors, First Nations’ groups, workers engaged in strike struggles and extends to resistance movements in various parts of the world. Many of these people are opponents of government policy and practices while others are merely expressing an opinion no matter how disagreeable it may be to the government and its ministers. The actions and opinions of these individuals or groups have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. What does their criminalization have to do with “balancing rights and security?” Absolutely nothing. Their criminalization has everything to do with suppressing dissent in the most heinous manner possible. The affirmation of their rights is crucial to upholding the rights of all and creating the condition of everyone’s security.

The promotion of a balance between rights and security covers up many things. The government has never engaged the polity in providing a definition of terrorism. In fact, Harper uses his majority in Parliament to attack the people’s fundamental right to conscience, which is tantamount to attacking their right to be. To say that the people’s right to be can be balanced with security is not only nonsense, it is as self-serving as one can become.

Far from the denial of rights begetting security, it begets anarchy and violence. The experience of wars of aggression and occupation, indefinite detentions, torture and targeted assassinations prove that. To say otherwise is to take the people for fools, which they are not.

Exposed in this proposed legislation and its promotion in the mass media is the fact that far from keeping Canadians or anyone else safe, the self-serving definitions of terrorism, the false notions of balance between rights and security, and the attacks on the right to conscience and the people’s right to be put everyone in danger and must be ended.

In Canada today, Harper’s Rule by Decree disempowers the people and places their safety at the mercy of arbitrariness. To treat matters of a political, social, cultural and economic nature as law and order matters does not enhance security. It provides those in power with license to commit crimes. In opposition, the MLPC says, Our Security Lies in Our Fight for the Rights of All, at home and abroad.


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