Canada’s wrong turn on terrorism

by Anthony James Hall

Anti-Terrorism Act• The ascent of the Canadian police state through the passage of Bill C-51 has raised the stakes in the coming federal election. The vote is shaping up as a kind of referendum on whether or not Canadians will grant free reign to Harper’s open-ended crusade against anticipated “terrorism.” Many Canadians are realizing that, if we continue down the treacherous path charted by C-51, we shall certainly descend into a Dark Ages of Canadian fascism.

Star constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati has emphasized this danger. Recently, he charged that Bill C-51 replicates the legislative enablers of fascism ushered into law in Germany and Italy in the 1930s. He warns this new law will make Canada’s security police, CSIS, a “modern-day Gestapo,” unhinged from any significant oversight or democratic accountability.

Those overtly or covertly ensnared in C-51’s expanded web of police powers will lose all protections under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadians will forfeit yet more rights of personal privacy together with our liberties of expression, thought, association, assembly and movement. Similarly, the offending law subordinates the protections of the existing criminal justice system to the claimed imperatives of anti-terrorism. No longer can Canadians rely on the protections entrenched in the principle that citizens are innocent until proven guilty through due process in a court of law.

The words, “terrorist,” “terrorism” and “act of terror” have, for a long time, been purposely paired with especially horrific imagery engineered in the mainstream media to evoke trauma and repulsion. We are never given a credible explanation, however, of where and how criminal activity became the stuff of something bigger and worse. The very name “Global War on Terror” encapsulates the core deception of our time. The quintessence of terror is war. It makes no sense to subdue terror by fighting it with wars.

In this post-Cold War era, the dominant empire’s war on communism was replaced by the war on terrorism, with the Islamic world now cast as the demonized “enemies of the West.” The concept of terrorism is thus spun and sold to us in ways that distort and misrepresent the truth of what is really going on in the most intense psychological operation of our time. As a result, the vocabulary of terrorism is much too subjective, torqued and propagandistic to form a reliable basis for permanent institutions and viable laws.

The subordination of our criminal law beneath the growing edifice of “terrorist law” is a stealthy process integral to creeping fascism. If we pull back the curtain of deception, we see the imagery of terrorism has been contrived to advance a number of interests and agendas essential to maintaining the permanent war economy. The political economy of war puts lethal darkness at the heart of our corporate culture. How much longer can we survive our dependency on an unsustainable life support system that feeds on death and destruction of our natural world?

It is especially instructive that those who have taken the lead in rebranding the seemingly endless Global War on Terror are the architects and political overlords of the most terrifying intertwining of military, police, banking and media power ever orchestrated in world history. We are now experiencing the realization of the very dangers identified by former US President Eisenhower in 1961 when he warned us to beware of the military-industrial complex.

Is Canada protected from police state tyranny?

Although Bill C-51 has already been passed into law as the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015, the political status of Harper’s initiative still rides on the outcome of the next federal election. As the non-partisan constitutional expert Rocco Galati has emphasized, any parliamentarian or candidate of a political party that voted for this fascist legislation does not deserve a Canadian citizen’s vote. Since Justin Trudeau and all his MPS voted to pass Bill C-51, the implication of Galati’s advice is that the Liberals disqualified themselves as serious contenders to replace the Harper government.

No matter the outcome of the next federal election, however, the harsh reality is Canadians are already experiencing the police state tyranny Harper has now formalized with his anti-terrorist enactment. The passage of Bill C-51 now codifies and amplifies existing patterns that have long been allowed to erode protections for the human rights of Canadians. Beginning especially in the 1980s, the protections we once expected from governments have been steadily drained away through the process of “deregulation.” In strategic areas like banking, stock markets, security, public health, pharmaceuticals, food safety and the environment, corporate leviathans became self-regulating like the fox guarding the henhouse.

Here in Alberta, for instance, the current regulator of the oil and gas sector is 100% financed and directed by the industry itself. Likewise, such conflict of interest has become the rule rather than the exception in the field of public health. A former employee of Health Canada, Shiv Chopra has emerged as one of Canada’s most compelling eyewitnesses to the sacrifice of the public interest and common good. In his book,Corrupt to the Core, Chopra details the steady subordination of his former federal employer to transnational companies whose products are subject to federal approval.

In Neil Young’s new album, The Monsanto Years, words and music are put to many of the current assaults to the planet that go far beyond Monsanto’s flooding of our farmlands with cancer-causing glyphosate euphemistically labelled Roundup. The mounting evidence of the weaponization of our food, air and water puts the onus on all of us to do our own research, testing and regulation to do the best we can to protect ourselves from exposure to toxic hazards.

Indeed, the evidence continues to expose our governments as the primary sources and enablers of the very dangers we entrust them to protect us against. The poisoning of our biological, mental and political environment to fuel the war economy is especially insidious in the seemingly endless Global War on Terror.

Who are the real terrorists?

As Canadians, we are encouraged to believe we are among the most free, democratic and protected citizens on Earth. We pride ourselves on our input into an impressive array of international treaties, covenants and declarations designed to protect the most basic human rights. The shocking truth, however, is that these international legal instruments are rarely implemented or enforced. This failure of enforcement conceals the erroneous perception that universal human rights are especially well protected here.

The freedoms our Western societies are supposed to epitomize, but do not, are then presented back to us as the alleged basis of “Islamic contempt.” The notion of Islamic “hatred of our freedoms” was deliberately channelled into a psychological campaign to incite and exploit religious antagonisms. This strategy put a new face on the enemy that was necessary to perpetuate the war economy. The imagery of a Western call to arms in this anti-Muslim crusade is invoked by the repeated use of words like “jihad,” “infidels,” “radicalization” and “terrorism.” The term “lone-wolf terrorist” illustrates how the masterminds of this propaganda deploy words and imagery that play on our most deep-seated childhood fears.

In Canada, Harper’s new Anti-Terrorism Act creates the impression Canadians are receiving added protections from the “Islamic menace” and from other possible threats to our “national security.” The deeper reality is this fascist legislation formalizes the stripping away of our most basic protections that have emerged from centuries of hard-won democratic evolution.

The international system of justice is not entirely moribund. On rare occasions, international criminal law is implemented in UN courts to bring war criminals to justice. Consistently, however, the criminal proceedings are directed at those on the losing side of conflict. Never are the war criminals on the winning side brought to justice. They are protected members of a ruling cabal that puts itself above the law. Its great wealth and power without accountability locates these reckless racketeers at ground zero of the most ruthless and dangerous forms of terror the world has ever known.

Anthony Hall is professor of Globalization Studies at the University of Lethbridge. He has written for the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Canadian Dimension and many other periodicals. His most recent books are Earth Into Property: Colonization, Decolonization and Capitalism and The American Empire and the Fourth World.

Leave a comment