Monday, January 4, 2010

What a Christmas: More terror in the skies; the rogue prorogues

It's 2010, and it's kind of good to be back. I'm kind of in transit right now so posts will still be irregular but hope to be back up to full speed soon.

While we were trying to sleep during the Christmas holidays, we got a huge wake up when a militant from Nigeria who was on the no-fly list in the UK and on a watch list in the US (although the lowest priority) still managed to get on a plane from Lagos to Amsterdam and then change planes to one bound for Detroit where he tried to blow himself up over Canadian airspace with explosives hidden in his underwear.
Maybe it's me, but there are a few things wrong with this picture.
One, when the suspect in question became so radicalized why didn't the US Embassy pass on the suspect's fathers' concerns to anti-terror officials in Washington so they could bump up his name to the highest level of scrutiny?
Second, if the UK banned the said suspect from flying in, you would have thought they would have passed the name onto Frontex, the European mainland's front office for the Schengen Information System of persons of interest. This would have ensured there was no way the suspect could have even boarded a plane for anywhere in the European Union, even to do an in-transit flight change in the "international zone" of an airport, in this case Schilpol. Apparently this didn't happen.
Third, Yemen's fragile but still somewhat in control government admitted the guy was a problem. Why didn't it warn its Western allies?
Fourth, I thought this happened over Canadian airspace. Shouldn't Canadian law therefore apply even if the majority of passengers on board were Americans? Even some of my conservative friends agree with me on that point.
This certainly was a close call, and while we should be grateful it didn't come to fruition thanks to alert nearby passengers the fact remains he never should have allowed to board the plane in the first place with either Europe or North America as a final or intermediate destination. I have no problem with full body scans or with passenger profiling provided it is aimed fairly at all people equally and not at persons of a certain race or religion only. After all, no one seemed bothered when a hardware store got an order for a couple thousand pounds of ammonium nitrate to be delivered to a farm in Michigan -- which was later used in the Oklahoma City bombing. And the perpetrators as well as the unindicted co-conspirators were all white.
Constant vigilance. We need to pursue that, but we can do so without sacrificing civil liberties.
The other thing grinding my gears is the second prorogue of the federal Parliament in a year. While some private members' business stays on the order paper, government legislation has to start all over again -- and committees must also begin anew unless they vote to read in the record from the previous session, as will have to happen with the Afghanistan investigation (and with the opposition's majority this had better happen).
In most countries, regularly suspending the legislature is the typical tactic of a tyrant who does not want his or her power to be challenged. But we can't use the word dictatorship in Canada. That would not be politically correct.
Canada declared martial law in 1970 to stomp out the FLQ, still somewhat of an overreaction in my opinion (and a failure, as Pierre Laporte was assassinated in retaliation for Trudeau's move). But even with martial law (albeit a temporary imposition) Parliament still met and debated legislation, and to take note of the action in question -- even allowed Tommy Douglas to use his soapbox in the House to condemn Trudeau for the latter's move.
In the modern age, one can complain on the Internet and on cable and satellite TV networks. But that doesn't count in a Parliamentary state. The time and place to debate policies is in the House. It's as simple as that. To run away from Parliament, to shut it down for personal reasons, is to be in contempt of it. And this is as disgraceful as molesting the symbols of Parliament within the chambers, including the Mace.
Of course, don't expect Steve to apologize. His advisers are in the mould of Karl Rove, whose motto is, don't apologize for anything even when you are wrong.
This isn't the UK where a new session begins every fall by law and the agenda is front-loaded at the start of the session so Parliament has voted on all the legislation when it rises in June or July for a break. This is Canada -- and we only call a new session if there's a need for it or if we're at the halfway point of a four-year mandate. We're not at either, in my opinion. This was only done to stall discussion about prisoner abuse or about the poor fiscal record of the Conservatives -- and that's not a good enough reason. Face it folks, we're under one man rule for the next two months; and you'd think a democracy would want to send a positive message to the world by having its Parliament continue to meet while the Winter Olympics in Vancouver are on.

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1 comment:

penlan said...

"But we can't use the word dictatorship in Canada. That would not be politically correct."

But it IS politically correct. This is exactly what's happening here in Canada. Call a spade a spade!