Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Padded cell vs. open road

Open letter to MP John Baird and Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Dear Sirs,

The Anti-terrorism Act is coming up for review. This law was passed hastily in the aftermath of 9/11 and contains some of the most alarming provisions ever enacted in a Canadian Parliament.

I have been impressed by the level-headedness and willingness to act according to principle that your government has demonstrated. Could you please use both in retooling this act?

Security certificates and the extremely broad wording limiting freedom of the press are especially troubling, as they dangerously undermine the foundational values of a free society. Allowing this legislation to be reintroduced in its present form would leave a legacy of open doors for legally sanctioned despotism. While you may have no intention of abusing the possibilities of this highly regressive act (although one could argue that any use at all is abuse), you cannot guarantee the actions of your successors.

I am confident that there are ways to protect our society from terrorism without sacrificing our most fundamental principles: freedom of speech, presumption of innocence and open trials.

I for one, am willing to accept some measure of risk in protecting these principles. Padded cells may be safe and even comfortable, but I prefer the risk of the open road.

On a related note, I believe it is high time that charges against Juliet O'Neill were dropped. This was a shameful move by the previous government and it dishonours you to allow it to continue.


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