[Note: This is a piece I submitted to the Ottawa Citizen today (sans links). We'll see if they print it.]
Remember what they fought for
I am quite bothered by a conversation I had this remembrance day.
It took place at the Human Rights memorial; I was standing a the edge
of a demonstration, listening to someone speak over the soundsystem
set up for the event. An older man approached cautiously. He was
wearing his uniform, adorned with two medals and a poppy.
"It's a demonstration in support of the five men being held in Canada
without charges," I said, in reference to the gathered crowd, hoping
for the man to be receptive to the cause.
Instead, they will have to stay at home in house arrest, indefinitely
confined in the strictest bail conditions in the country. Mr. Harkat
is neither accused nor convicted of a crime, and thus has the rights
of neither. On what evidence does the government want to deport him?
He doesn't have the right to know, and neither does the public.
If these five men are terrorists, then by all means they should be
tried and convicted in open court, with all the rights of such a
person. The Canadian government shows cowardice in keeping these men
locked up in a legal limbo, in what NDP MP Bill Siksay called "inhuman
Even, however, if they are terrorists, nobody should be subjected to
the conditions which they have faced, especially not in the names of
"democracy" and "freedom".