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February 2004
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Canada blasted for believing its citizens are free

A U.S. report that has been hitting Canadian media sites in the past two hours says that Canada is too terrorist friendly. A serious charge, but let’s take a closer look at it.
First, the report (titled Nations Hospitable to Organized Crime and Terrorism (pdf) and completed in October) is prepared by the Library of Congress in an arrangement with the CIA Crime and Narcotics Center, which naturally continues to try to link drug policy with terrorism (and is influenced by the administration’s drug war).
Second, some of the language in the report is downright offensive. Canada is blamed in part for:

The Canadian Constitution guarantees rights such as the right to life, liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and protection against arbitrary detention or imprisonment that make it easier for terrorists and international criminals to operate. In addition, a technologically advanced economy and infrastructure facilitate operations and activities as well as providing a myriad of opportunities for abuse.

This tone continues later in the report:

Perhaps until recently, there has also not been widespread concern that Canada could be the victim of a terrorist attack. Sensitivity to civil liberties combined with this low threat perception has made both the adoption and the enforcement of tougher immigration laws and strong counter terrorism measures more difficult. The fact that the 2002 bill designed to make Canada’s immigration laws less favorable to terrorists and international criminals is entitled the “Immigration and Refugee Protection Act” serves as an indication of the prevailing concern for or priority placed upon civil liberties in Canada.

Is it just me, or is it extremely disturbing that the United States would, in an official report, talk about civil liberties and individual rights in a country as a negative factor?
Aren’t these qualities that the United States used to value? (And in fact, if a government of the people stops supporting these rights and liberties, doesn’t it lose its legitimacy?)

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