Ends Justify Means on the Harper Regime's Slippery Torture Slope

Canada signed the UN Convention Against Torture which has an absolute prohibition against torture as does the UN Human Rights Commission. Torture is also prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada. Nonetheless, Harper's Conservative government has been quietly, without any notice to the public, changing the rules with respect to information that may have been tainted by torture. The Canadian Press managed to obtain documents from Sept. 9 2011 through the Access to Information Act. The documents are directives that extend the order originally sent to CSIS to "make the protection of life and property its overriding priority" including the use of information based on torture to the RCMP and the Border Services Agency as well. In doing so, the Harper government continues to argue that the ends justify the means.

Up until now the documents in question have remained classified even though this is an important change in policy and one would think should have been discussed in parliament. In the past and present the UN has accused Canada of being 'complicit' in rights violations saying, "There is clearly complicity in the ministerial direction to CSIS, the RCMP, Border Security and other departments that allows intelligence information to be shared with other countries even when that might cause torture, and in authorizing the use of intelligence information that was likely obtained through torture in other countries."

Canada's international obligations with respect to torture are directed not only at those who apply electric shocks and beat prisoners with cables and clubs. Al countries, including Canada, are obliged to ensure that they do not in any way facilitate torture in other countries. They are required to make sure torturers face justice wherever they commit their crimes. And they must put in place laws, policies and oversight processes that will prevent torture and ill-treatment from occurring in the first place. The UN Committee Against Torture finds Canada comes up short across all of those obligations.

Human-rights, whether dealing with the right to food, protection against torture or any other right, are universal. No one is more or less entitled than anyone else to have their rights protected. Yet Canada's Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and our 'dear leader' Harpo believe, like the right-wing nutjobs in America and endless fascist regimes down through history, that they are allowed to stand above the national and international laws designed to protect the weakest among us from the abuses of exactly this type of megalomaniac. Harpo and his brethren, believing themselves to be exceptional because they are being guided by a 'higher' law, are instead taking Canada quickly down a slippery torture slope that ends who knows where.