Wednesday, February 14, 2007

John Manley Is Wrong About Anti-Terrorism Laws

Apparently Manley's comments on Macleans' new site have caused a stir. I think Manley is dead wrong, here are a couple particulars that stand out to me:
"I believe that Cabinet and Parliament got the balance right in 2001-02. And I do not believe that anything has changed to make that balance inappropriate today."
In 2001-02? At that time we were still in collective post-9/11 freakout mode (and understandably so). We thought (at least I did) that we'd be averaging one or two terror attacks in North America on a 9/11 scale every year. We have now the advantage of distance to understand that maybe some laws were draconian.
"I believe there are adequate checks on the use of these powers, such as mandatory judicial review, to ensure that they are not abused."
Apparently Manley hasn't been following Harper's plans for the courts.
"And the most important civil liberty is freedom from fear of harm on the part of the civilian population, without which our other liberties mean very little."
Yeah, just ask Maher Arar about how fearsome Syrian prison is. Arbitrary arrest and/or rendition is something to be afraid of too. I can't help but get the sense that when someone with the kind of privilege that Manley has as a former cabinet minister says stuff like this, his assumption is something like "Oh well, arrest and rendition could never happen to me, John Manley, or my buddies in government and industry." He cannot conceive how these laws might be frightening to those less politically connected.

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