Category Archives: canadian sovereignty

Harper, Rae wrong on Khadr

According to this Toronto immigration lawyer, both Stephen Harper and Bob Rae are making a very “simple” mistake when it comes to the question of if Omar Khadr can return to Canada.

I have never dealt in this space with the right of Canadian citizens to enter Canada. The simple reason for this is that the law on this point is crystal clear and rarely in dispute.

This right is considered a “fundamental” one and so it is entrenched in our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which was signed by Queen Elizabeth in 1982.

Our Charter describes this right as follows:

“Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.”

…Pretty simple, huh?

Not when it comes to Omar Khadr.

This fundamental right seems to have somehow been ignored during most of the debate, and some of the rhetoric, that surrounds this Canadian citizen’s controversial set of circumstances.

…Prime Minister Stephen Harper has publicly stated that he will not allow Khadr back here unless the charges against him are dropped for good. Of course, Harper has not explained what legal authority he has to prevent Khadr, a Canadian citizen, from exercising his right to return to Canada.

Even the Canadian opposition has it wrong. Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae suggested that Harper appoint a panel of experts to advise the Canadian government on how to deal with Khadr. Any expert, in my view, would agree that Khadr has a constitutional right to return to Canadian soil. What happens to him after that is a matter of domestic criminal law which is unrelated to his right to enter Canada.

The thousand or so senior judges who together form the Canadian Superior Court Judges Association describe our justice system as follows: “We are said to be ruled by law, not by those who enforce the law or wield government power.”

President Obama’s actions have signaled a swift and firm return to the rule of law.

I hope that we will follow not only the American lead but also our own legal tradition.

Pretty serious stuff. Bob, on what grounds do you and the prime minister presume to be able to ignore the Charter?


During yesterday’s trading, and then again today, the Canadian dollar achieved parity with the US dollar. Our economic system is a complex beast, not even fully understood by experts. However, there are likely two broad explanations for the dollar’s rise.

First, the American economy is in serious trouble. The events triggered by the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage Ponzi scheme have not yet played out in full. The housing boom was a key driver of US economic growth, but now over one million Americans risk losing their homes. In order to keep the market from collapsing, the Fed has injected more money than they did in the wake of 9/11. The other key to US economic strength, consumer spending, is also quite vulnerable thanks to a negative savings rate, declining consumer confidence, an average credit card debt of $9000 per person, and an average national debt of $29,500 per person. Oh, and then there’s the little matter of the $3,000,000,000.00 per week war in Iraq. The fact that our dollar is doing so well compared to the greenback isn’t necessarily something to brag about. You’d look like a supermodel too if you were standing next to an ogre.

The second reason the loonie’s gone loony is that our dollar has generally come to be considered a “petrocurrency,” in the sense that it has a close and direct relationship with the price of oil. The fact that oil is now hanging-out above $80 a barrel and is projected to continue to rise is an indication that we’ve used up all of the easily-accessible supply. The stuff that’s left in the ground is dirtier, more expensive, and more energy-intensive to extract (reducing the Energy Return On Energy Invested), meaning that until we shift from a paradigm of perpetual consumption and growth to one of conservation and efficiency, our energy crisis will only get worse.

In other words, the “high” dollar is hardly cause for celebration. Add to that the fact that our economy is already starting to feel the effects of what is likely to be a US recession, and the fact that the Conservative budget left us absolutely no wiggle-room for dealing with this eventuality.

And then that word, parity, starts to take on another, more sinister and dangerous meaning. An alignment with the US economy so tightly integrated that we can’t escape the increasingly powerful gravitational pull of its implosion. An alignment with the US military so close that we can’t say no to American-led wars. An alignment with US energy policy so one-sided that our own citizens freeze in the dark.

Wait, isn’t that just the worst-case scenario? Yes. It’s also where we’re heading.

I See Dots

I see dots. Let’s try to connect them.

Yesterday morning’s news contained an alarm bell from a widespread coalition of groups (including Cancer Care Ontario, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario Federation of Labour, multiple public health units, and more) that we “are living in a toxic soup that’s increasing our risk of getting cancer and it’s high time the government takes steps to obliterate this environmental threat.” Specifically, they released a study that identifies “150 toxins and carcinogens in the air we breathe, the food we eat and products we use every day.” It also says that “59,500 Ontarians will be diagnosed with cancer in 2007 out of 159,900 in Canada. It is projected that by 2020, 91,000 new cancer cases will be diagnosed.”

These are not just statistics. Yesterday afternoon I bumped into a friend of mine who I haven’t seen since she was diagnosed with what she describes as “a wee case of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.” She’s already been through chemotherapy, and is about halfway done her radiation treatment. She must be exhausted, but she hid it well. She seemed as energetic and positive as ever, and there’s a good chance she’ll be OK. As someone in my twenties who’s already lost two friends to cancer, I welcome that good news.

In other good news, Canadians are starting to realize that environmental and health policies are related. On the other hand, that’s driven by the fact that “27 per cent of Canadians believe they have environment-related illnesses.”

In a new book called Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products (via this review), author Mark Schapiro “reveals the grim fact that some companies, whether American or international, often have two production lines: one that manufactures hazard-free products for the European Union and another that produces toxin-filled versions of the same items for [North] America and developing countries.” Because, you see, European governments have made it illegal for companies to poison their populations with known carcinogens, while our governments have not.

And here, we come to the final dot. Today and yesterday, Stephen Harper, George Bush (who each have approval ratings in the 30’s) and president Felipe Calderón of Mexico are engaged in closed-door talks to further North American deep integration via the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP. One of the objectives (or, at least, as far as we can tell, since the government’s position on these negotiations according to Stockwell Day is that they’re “private meetings” and “journalists should understand” they cannot be commented upon) is to unify environmental and health regulations, which could result in the US government deciding which toxins and carcinogens are allowed to go into our breakfast cereal.

I’d really rather we make that decision. And that the answer be “none.”