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June 19, 2009

Government by received wisdom

The case of Abousfian Abdelrazik suggests received wisdom (these days flying "PC" colours) rather than Abdelrazik's human rights - let alone national security - was the impetus for his immanent return to Canada. Still better than received wisdom, naked opportunism explains a total incoherence revealed in the government's position. The state has decided an about face will calm the waters of 905 before a general election and calm waters is what 905 is to have; damn the rest of us.

Here is the government's position - which I defended - now dropped without explanation.

The applicant's UN 1267 listing as an associate of Al-Qaida imposes an obligation on all UN member states to prevent his entry into or transit through their territories. … A state's territories necessarily include its airspace and territorial waters. … It is geographically impossible for the applicant to travel from Sudan to Canada by air, land or sea, without transiting through the sovereign territories (land, airspace or territorial waters) of numerous UN member states, which are bound at international law to prevent such transit.

Which turns out to be nonsense. Chris Selley explains.

... the brave lawyers conceded that the UN regulations explicitly allow for a citizen to be repatriated under a no-fly exemption, a fact that would cause any remotely honest human being to conclude that the interpretation they were offering was manifestly ludicrous.

Selley offers an excellent list of questions left unanswered by the government's decision to allow Abdelrazik's return. We have been offered no explanation of how we can meet both the terms of the federal court decision against the government and how we can meet our obligations under international law, given the government's original argument. We have been offered no assurance Abdelrazik's return poses no danger to the public and no red faced apology if the government has belatedly, genuinely decided Abdelrazik represented no danger to the public in the first place.

Pace the wounded dignity, inconvenience and future legal actions of Mr. Abdelrazik, the Canadian public as a whole has reason for concern. Part of our contract with Leviathan includes an understanding the government - and particularly the security services - has access to information withheld from the general public. This being the case, we can sometimes trust the government knows why an individual might turn up on a United Nations "no fly" list even if we - or our court officials - do not.

Given the government's volte face, we can no longer be confident in this assumption so long as Stephen Harper remains in office. Or until the man admits and explains the mistake.

And as difficult for this might be for Abdelrazik as an innocent man, a mistake is what we must now surely hope it was. If not, a known associate of al-Qaeda is about to be feted as a celebrity by Canada's "left". But then they were celebrating al-Qaeda on the afternoon of 9/11; there are precious few new steps to be seen in this kabuki dance at the end of civilization.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at June 19, 2009 08:57 AM