No reason to remain silent over threats

Fred Brittain’s response to my previous letter, regarding Canada now accepting information probably obtained under torture, attempts to challenge my position.

Fred Brittain’s response to my previous letter, regarding Canada now accepting information probably obtained under torture, attempts to challenge my position.

His hypothetical scenario, however, takes the subject far from my actual statements. How is it possible to assume that I would be “holding to my principles” by remaining silent about a perceived possible threat of violent action? The foreign country planning that action is known to use torture “including Canadian citizens” Mr. Brittain proposes.

Obviously our government should already be on record as condemning this country and advising Canadians to avoid it — as it ought to. Our “homeland security” people should be fully on top of such situations, as they ought to. Right?

OK, so Mr. Brittain suggests that a courageous person within that violent government, tells a friend about a possible plot to attack a “foreign” plane. Right away, that government person will become “disappeared,” no question. Now, the “friend” tells relatives visiting from Canada about the plot, maybe hoping they can get the information into the right hands.

Next, these relatives, my neighbours (properly terrified), return to Canada. Somehow, they have come to trust me, so I am told what they were told. Why would Mr. Brittain assume that I would keep silent? I must trust that my security forces would be prepared to deal with this — even though it is only on TV that such a situation is resolved “in the nick of time” before the final commercials.

Fine — I now trot off to the nearest RCMP offices and tell them my (by now fourth-hand) story. Result? “We’ll look into it, madam.” I am sent home, reassured (?) while the security people smile about the dotty old lady with a shaky hold on reality — and consign my “report” to the bottom of the stack of such reports they already have.

Or (and I think this looks more like me) I accompany my reluctant and scared neighbours to the RCMP and support them as they relate what they were told. Result? The neighbours are detained for an indefinite period while their suspicious background is investigated. Some of the information probably comes from the aforementioned detained and tortured relative. Deportation of my neighbours is not ruled out, under Canada’s current system. The original threat may be eliminated in time; but likely not, with all the cross-checking, etc. required. This sort of security work is slow, painstaking, full of legalities, and done in the safety of Canadian offices — not out there in the field of danger.

That dangerous field contains mostly ordinary people, trying to survive in places where life is cheap and human rights are non-existent. My beliefs do not put their lives at lesser value than the lives of those of us lucky enough to be Canadian-born. I truly want to believe that our airlines, our security people, and our government, are totally on top of every possible threat to Canada’s safety. However, in my real world, humans are fallible. All anyone can do is keep informed — and hold those in positions of authority to account for their actions on our behalf as Canadian citizens.

This naturally includes Canada’s recorded participation in International agreements, like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, among others. And that brings me back to my original position (in spite of Mr. Brittain’s attempt to sidetrack me into narrow hypotheses). I believe Canada’s government is sliding away from our global responsibilities, and diminishing my nation’s credibility.

I do not intend to pursue this paper “discussion” as I have other letters to work on, real-world situations, from Amnesty International’s files. Thank you, Mr. Brittain, for your interest.

Bonnie Denhaan

Red Deer

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