Saturday, December 16, 2006

Wilkins, go home

Fidel Castro, or maybe it was Daniel Ortega, was once asked why the US has always had political stability, while instability was the rule in Latin America. "There is no US Embassy in Washington," he responded.

US ambassadors have long been known for their malicious interference in the affairs of other countries. And the current US ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, is no exception. I
t appears that Maher Arar is still on a US "watch list," and consequently forbidden to enter the country. Wilkins' current comments about Arar, tortured in Syria thanks to the American policy of "extraordinary rendition," are the sly and sneaky stuff that one expects from top-level US mouthpieces. No evidence. No facts. Just a continuing string of alibis for US excesses in the "war on terror," and a vicious attack on an innocent Canadian citizen in his own country. Indeed, to his credit, Sean McCormack, speaking for the US State Department, stated that any "evidence" that Arar is a threat to national security certainly didn't come from his shop. From where, then, does this slander originate? And what, precisely, is it based upon?

"Can't say," says Wilkins, citing Arar's current lawsuit against the US government. How convenient: he can try to blacken a Canadian citizen's reputation, and then smugly refuse to provide any evidence at all for his claims.

There is no need, of course, for Wilkins to promote political instability here. He has a powerful ally in Stockwell Day, our (God help us) Minister of Public Safety. Has anyone bothered to look at Day's
response to Wilkins' slander? Here it is:

I have received assurances from the Americans that no information provided to them by Canadian authorities was used to place Mr. Arar on a watch list or would be used to deny Mr. Arar entry into the United States.

At first blush, this might be seen as defending Arar, but read it carefully. Day is engaging in precisely the same defensive manoeuvres as Wilkins (Arar is suing the Canadian government too). He is not saying that Arar is innocent; in fact, he is broadly hinting the opposite--that the US might be on to something. "Whatever they have," he nudges and winks, "it didn't come from us."

All of this is intolerable. Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen and the subject of an exhaustive inquiry that declared him innocent of any wrongdoing (unlike the cops who helped get him tortured in a Syrian dungeon, and the unnamed officials who leaked slanderous factoids to the public with the help of complaisant journalists), must have closure and some measure of peace. He most certainly does not deserve these on-going insinuations and unfounded defamatory statements: indeed, none of us does. Stockwell Day needs to be held to account for his comments--a prompt "clarification" would be in order. And, for his disgraceful behaviour while a guest in this country,
David Wilkins should be sent packing without delay.

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