After seven years in a Canadian jail, without being charged with anything, Mohammad Mahjoub is finally being released. He has been held for seven years under a security certificate, a star-chamber mechanism through which a person can simply be imprisoned indefinitely and mistreated, right here in Canada, without the inconvenience of a trial.
Canada's Old Government [tm] issued the security certificate in this case, and tried to deport Mahjoub in 2004, admitting that it knew he would be tortured in his native Egypt. (Many of the players from those days are currently rebelling against Stéphane Dion's move to roll back some of the more draconian aspects of anti-terrorism legislation that they rushed to impose after 9/11.) Canada's New Government [tm] finds nothing wrong with security certificates. And "Canada's National Newspaper," the Globe and Mail, continues its slimy support of them, in a chilling editorial, "Canada's no dark hole for terror suspects." (The Globe, one might recall, objected only once to the use of a security certificate, in the case of Ernst Zundel.) Perhaps the most objectionable sentence in this defence of arbitrary measures that the paper claims to oppose on its masthead* is this one: "Their arrival in Canada, where they are assuredly not wanted, places this country in a dilemma."
Just for whom does this anonymous writer imagine he or she is speaking? Why are these men, presumably innocent before being proven guilty (the latter being something Canadian authorities seem reluctant to set about doing), "not wanted?" (And why are convicted neo-Nazi hate criminals like Zundel "wanted," if it comes to that?) One cannot help but observe that just a tinge of racism might be discerned in commentary like that. Arab surname=terrorist, right?
Of course, presumed innocence makes some people impatient. Even in "progressive" ranks, we find the occasional swipe at this fundamental principle, as in Terry Glavin's latest Chronicles post (go find it--he shall get no link from me). "[W]hat, exactly, [would] these protestors ... put in place of Security Certificates, and how many of them believe the detainees are innocent, and how many believe they're guilty[?]"
Easy. In answer to the first, a trial. In answer to the second, they are innocent until proven guilty. That should be clear enough, even to anonymous editorialists and gutter journalists.
UPDATE: (February 23) The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously struck down security certificates as a violation of life, liberty and security of the person under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, no doubt leaving the aforesaid editorialists and journalists choking in its broad judicial wake. It will be interesting to see how this pusillanimous crowd reacts; I'll be following what they have to say closely. They might do well to reflect upon words I have quoted before, likely from Benjamin Franklin:
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
UPPERDATE: (February 26) Well, crowing can sometimes mean that you end up eating crow. Bob Tarantino has some comments here that should be read. And I probably owe Lord Kitchener a beer. I'll need one myself to get the carrion bird down, and I hope I don't get West Nile.
*The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate shall neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. --Junius