Friday, 24 October 2014

Canada's own Patriot Act

Canada, like New Zealand has always been a peaceful country, especially in comparison with its southern neighbour.

The country is in shock and it is in this context that the right-wing government will use the opportunity to bring in its own Patriot Act and eviscerate human rights in the name of "fighting terror"

Right wing governments have always thrived on fear in the populace and Stephen Harper is no exception.

Paul Beckwith has some reflections of his own on this.

The Canadian Patriot Act Arrives: Ottawa To Give Security Agencies More "Detention And Surveillance" Powers

23 October, 2014

Stop us when the flashbacks to September 11, and its Patriot Act aftermath, become too close for comfort.

As Reuters reported moments ago, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday the government will expedite plans to give more powers of detention and surveillance to security agencies in the wake of an attack on Parliament.

"They need to be much strengthened, and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that work which is already under way will be expedited," he told the House of Commons, one day after a gunman launched an attack on Parliament and was shot dead.

On the other hand, instead of giving the government even more authoritarian power to do with civilian liberties as it sees fit and appropriate, perhaps the government's agencies could have simply done their work better under the existing laws and regulations, especially after the Sky News report that the Ottawa shooter, Canadian born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was already on a terror watch list.

The gunman who killed a soldier in Ottawa and stormed Canada's parliament had been put on a terror watch list, it has emerged.
The attacker, identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau by Canadian media, was considered "high risk" and had seen his passport confiscated to stop him travelling abroad to join Islamic State terrorists in Iraq or Syria.
But the 32-year-old was able to strike at the heart of his home country's capital, shooting dead Corporal Nathan Cirillo before he was himself gunned down by Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers as he launched his assault on parliament.
US sources said the killer was a convert to Islam from Quebec who grew up in Laval and Montreal and was called Michael Joseph Hall before he changed his name.

But while most have stretched to make a link between Zehaf-Bibeau and Muslim in general (or ISIS in particular), a very distubring direction where this may be headed is revealed in the following:

Family friend Dave Bathurst told the CBC Zehaf-Bibeau did not appear to have extremist views, but had at times shown a disturbing side. 
He said: "We were having a conversation in a kitchen, and I don't know how he worded it - he said the devil is after him." 
Mr Bathurst said his friend frequently talked about the presence of Shaytan in the world - an Arabic term for devils and demons, adding: "I think he must have been mentally ill."

So while one can understand the stereotyping of fear under the guise of race, ethnicity or religion, what happens when the brand spanking new pre-crime unit of "Oceania" targets not just those who are externally different but pose a risk threat because they could be, according to the government, "mentally ill." Good luck proving to a jury of peers after the fact of one's arrest (by the Ministry of Peace of course) that one is, in fact, perfectly normal.

Ottawa gunman ‘privately-educated’ son of Canada immigration chief, acted alone

Flowers, momentos and well wishes are placed at the Canadian War Memorial in downtown Ottawa October 23, 2014 (Reuters / Blair Gable)

23 October,2014

Following the Canadian shooting attack which threw Ottawa into lockdown, a 32-year-old, Quebec-born male was identified as the sole perpetrator – and his mother was found to work at Canada’s Immigration and Refugee board.
The gunman responsible for the attack on the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa acted alone, authorities confirmed on Thursday, adding that that there is no link to an attack in Quebec earlier in the week.

We have no information linking the two attacks this week,” said Bob Paulson, commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, saying that the shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau may also have held a Libyan passport.

Police also said that checks by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) found no evidence of national security related offenses, although the Canadian-born Zehaf-Bibeau had a record of drugs violations and , violence related activity, Paulson said. Authorities said Zehaf-Bibeau wanted to go to Syria.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had converted to Islam prior to the attacks in Ottawa and had previously had his passport revoked and been arrested several times. He was privately educated and the son of the deputy chairperson of Canada’s immigration division, Susan Bibeau, reported CTV News.

Despite his education he had been regarded as somewhat disturbed by one of his friends from his youth and in later years had several drug and robbery arrests and one weapons charge – he was also classed as a high-risk traveler despite his mother’s position.

One friend, friend Dave Bathurst, told Canada’s Globe and Mail that he had exhibited some signs of possibly suffering mental illness: “We were having a conversation in a kitchen, and I don’t know how he worded it: He said the devil is after him,” he said.
His parents had reportedly gone long periods of time without seeing their son.

On Wednesday, his mother, Susan Bibeau told AP that she was crying for the victims of her son’s attack, 24-year-old soldier Nathan Cirillo, rather than for her son.

Can you ever explain something like this?” she said through tears, during a telephone call. “We are sorry.”

She added that she did not know what to say to the people who were injured.

No words can express the sadness we are feeling at this time. We are so sad that a man lost his life. He has lost everything and he leaves behind a family that must feel nothing but pain and sorrow,” the parents said in their official statement read.

I don't understand and part of me wants to hate him at this time. You write that our son was vulnerable, we don't know, we (he) was lost and did not fit in. I his mother spoke with him last week over lunch, I had not seen him for over five years before that.”

Bibeau was killed by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers shortly after his attack on Parliament Hill and a shooting at the National War Memorial.

The shootings which shook Canada on Wednesday morning put the capital on lockdown as well as all military bases nationwide. Three people were hospitalized in the storm of bullets he unleashed on Parliament Hill before he was shot dead.

Some fair enough comments

Yesterday's shooter in Ottawa was living in a homeless shelter a few blocks east of Parliament Hill for possibly 2-4 weeks prior to the incident. He was apparently bragging about being anti-Canadian, being on a terrorist list and was a recent convert to Islam. He was described as "very bizarre".

What kind of terrorist brags about being a terrorist a few days before carrying out a terrorist attack on Parliament Hill? Seems more and more like this tragic event wasn't a terrorist attack, it was just the work of a mentally ill homeless Canadian citizen with a long criminal history. No need to start stripping away more of our rights, giving more power to the police and increasing the bombing abroad. CSIS and the RCMP need to start answering some questions about what they had in their file on this man also.

Some sage words from Paul Beckwith

Misplaced fear. Terrorism vs climate change - Paul Beckwith

The very word "terrorism" arouses fear and anxiety in most people. The incidents in the last few days in Montreal and at Ottawa's War Memorial and Parliament Hill will no doubt shock many Canadian's and dominate the mainstream media for many days. Not so for me.

I claim that this fear is misdirected. Even irrational. I have no fear or worry of this. The risk from so called "terrorism" to an individual in the public is exceedingly low. Obesity caused mortality from heart disease or stroke or a car accident far exceeds that risk from "terrorism". Fear your next burger, or walking across the street if you feel the need to fear something. There is a lot of global turmoil going down at present. Pick your poison: Russian aggression, the Middle East, ISIL or ISI or ISIS, Al Qaida or something else. These concerns come and go, wax and wane. They are misguided.

What is worth the worry is abrupt climate change. Increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events causing cascading feedbacks and turmoil and acting as a threat multiplier. And crippling the global food supply, for example. What is worth the worry is methane bubbling up from the Arctic. That will change the world. Perhaps too fast for civilization to endure. Dwarfing all other issues.

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