Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, October 24, 2008

"We should right the balance between security, civil rights," Vancouver Sun, October 23, 2008.

[What would life be like without this kind of "security." -jlt]

  The no-fly list being compiled by the federal government is an example of sentencing without trial, an abrogation of the rights of individuals justified in the name of public security.

The coordinated terror attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, caught intelligence agencies flat-footed and created an urgent need to identify additional threats.

Yet as retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci succinctly summarized in his report released this week on the role of the federal government in the detention and torture by Syria of three Canadians, in the panic that followed, a fundamental tenet of our democracy was forgotten.

"For the terrorist, the ends justifies the means. A democracy, however, must justify the means to an end -- including in this case, it's response to terrorism."

In making his findings, the retired judge quite properly addresses the seriousness of the threat of terrorism and the responsibility of the government to meet that threat. He also recognizes the difficulty of maintaining a balance between protecting our democratic values and due process while defending against an enemy that respects neither. That difficulty, he continues, is no excuse to abandon our values.

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