According to the RCMP:
“Crime against humanity”- means murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, persecution or any other inhumane act that is committed against any civilian population or any identifiable group of persons that constitutes a contravention of customary or conventional international law or is criminal according to the general principles of law.
As long as war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed, Canada will be vigilant to prevent those responsible from entering Canada and becoming or remaining citizens. We will be ready to commence criminal investigations and prosecute such persons found in Canada.
This is, of course, a complete crock. When George W. Bush visited Calgary last month, not only did the Mounties ignore their obligation to detain and charge him, but the government pulled out all the stops to protect this mass murderer.
While a Spanish court is preparing to prosecute Bush-era officials who developed the “legal” fig leaf for American forces to torture their captors, Calgary is preparing to welcome Condoleeza Rice in May.
Rice’s visit will attract at least as much outrage as Bush’s, and presumably as much police presence and state protection for a woman who, along with Bush et al, is culpable in the deaths of 1.3 million Iraqis, 60,000 Afghans, and countless other crimes against people around the world.
What are we to make of a government that would welcome these thugs into Canada while preventing the visit of British MP George Galloway who is demonstrably opposed to mass murder? OK, that is a rhetorical question.
Less rhetorically, what are we going to do about it?
Some good folks in Maple Ridge, BC, also known as the Coalition of the Willing, are confronting their local MP on this issue. In an open letter, the Coalition calls upon MP Randy Kamp (Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission) to resign and “sit as an independent (at least until your party reforms itself), so that you may begin representing the wishes of your constituents to Ottawa, and not Ottawa to us.” If Kamp does not meet their demand, the Coalition might run a candidate against him in the next election. Is Kamp worried? With a 51 percent majority in the last election and a 19 point lead over NDP candidate Mike Bocking, he doesn’t look too vulnerable. So, unless Mr. Kamp has a social conscience, I imagine he will ignore the Coalition of the Willing.
The Coalition says this issue is not one of Left versus Right, but Right versus Wrong. In Parliamentary terms, they may well be right. The NDP has been disconcertingly AWOL from this debate.
When Lawyers Against the War wrote to the RCMP, asking it to enforce Canada’s war crimes laws regarding George Bush, they sent copies to the leaders of the political parties. Jack Layton’s office replied:
On behalf of Mr. Layton, thank you for copying our office on the correspondence concerning former President George W. Bush`s March 17th visit to Canada. Please be advised that we will not be following-up on this matter.
Office of Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada’s New Democrats
Michael Byers, who carried the NDP banner to third place in Vancouver Centre last year. says that he supports a criminal investigation of Bush’s crimes, but he does not support calls for a Canadian prosecution at this time. He says he prefers to give the Obama administration the “first opportunity” to prosecute Bush. Yeah, right.
That seems to be as good as it gets with the NDP, so perhaps the Coalition is onto something — this is a case of “Right versus Wrong” and on this issue our Parliamentary Left is demonstrably wrong.
In fairness to the NDP, it opposes the war in Afghanistan, supports the repatriation of Omar Khadr, and would allow war resisters to remain in Canada. What are we to conclude from its unwillingness to engage when it has the opportunity to seek the prosecution of “The Decider” who made all of these crimes happen? That Jack Layton is a closet war criminal? Unlikely. That Jack Layton is trying to appear realistic and hence “Prime Ministerial”? Getting warmer, I think.
Could it be that war crimes in the 21st century are so commonplace, so banal, so depressingly quotidian that the NDP sees no benefit to associating itself with this issue? Now, if Bush had been responsible for increasing text messaging cost in Canada, we might see some action from the NDP.
What are we to do, beside writing the usual letters of outrage to our MPs (find yours here)? Well, we can start with or continue with that strategy. We can hook up with the Coalition of the Willing and Lawyers Against the War. We can be active in our local peace and human rights organizations.
The most important thing we can do is to refuse to lose our sense of outrage that abuses of human rights are committed, aided and abetted by our government. We can refuse to accept the fact that war criminals are allowed to travel the world with impunity. We can commit to taking every opportunity to expose these crimes and their perpetrators for what they are.