Friday, May 11, 2007

Afghan Furor Shows We’re Slipping Into US Orbit

by Linda McQuaig
The Toronto Star

"It was almost enough to revive one’s faith in Canada as a functioning democracy, not to mention a member of the civilized world.

After two weeks of unrelenting pressure – led by the media and the opposition parties in Parliament – the Harper government was forced to abandon a deal that made Canada complicit in torture in Afghanistan.

Before we go farther, let’s emphasize that the much-improved deal governing the treatment of our detainees in Afghanistan came about despite the sustained and determined efforts of the Harper government to thwart such monitoring of human rights.

For more than a year, the Conservatives had been content to hand over detainees to Afghan custody, despite ample evidence – including from Canadian officials – that Afghanistan routinely tortures those in its custody.....

Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin wrote last week that the “new Canada has abandoned the independent strain we had” and that, in our growing closeness to Bush’s America, we are “consorts now.”

That sort of subordinate role is clearly what the Harper government, as well as some elite military and media types, have in mind for us.

But it doesn’t seem to be what the Canadian public is willing to accept.

This Afghan saga reminds me of the case of Maher Arar, the Canadian engineer tortured in Syria. In both cases, Ottawa tried to downplay a growing scandal about Canadian complicity in torture. But Canadians demanded accountability and eventually forced Ottawa to abide by the rule of law, not the lawless ways of the Bush administration.

It seems that, while our political leaders may be comfortable accommodating Bush, most Canadians have yet to develop a taste for toadying."

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