I sure hope all our BC and Canadian media (newspapers, television, radio, magazine organizations) and all our BC and Canadian Civil Liberties Associations have taken notice of the MAJOR attack on Freedom of Speech in Canada by Canadian border guards last week.
An award-winning U.S. journalist, Amy Goodman, was pulled aside, had her car and even her computer searched and was grilled for more than an hour before being admitted into the country.
Goodman was on her way to Vancouver to speak at a Vancouver Public Library forum on global warming, U.S. health care, and the economic meltdown … and, of course like all good authors, to plug her new book “Breaking the Sound Barrier”.
According to Goodman … the border guards kept prodding and asking what she was going to speak about in Vancouver. Over and over they kept asking about “what else?” as she recited her list.
Now I know some might regard ANY questionning of any “speaker” trying to get into Canada as an infringement of freedom of speech. And it is.
But I CAN understand why Canadian laws … enforced by Canada Border Services … try to keep out “speakers” who might want to exercise their freedom of speech by violating our Charter of Rights: ie. making speeches calling for the expulsion or even extermination of various groups; attacks on abortion doctors; imprisonment of homosexuals or other claptrap encouraging hate and division contrary to our laws.
I suspect the Border Services already know who those people are. Or they could just Google a person’s name to find out!!
But in the case of Goodman … something much more malicious seems to have been at work: the guards were apparently in “Olympic Protection Mode” … which may include some sort of new Canada Border Services Vancouver 2010 journalism standard: hear no evil, see no evil, and above all, speak no evil about the Games or any of the frolicking surrounding them.
And keep out any foreigners who may want to say anything critical of the the big party!
THIS IS NOT CHINA … the Games are not taking place in a Canada living under a dictatorship (not yet!) … and the Border guards, I believe, clearly overstepped their duty, their responsibilties and their authority in trying to find out if Goodman was going to say ANYTHING or TALK about the Olympics!
To hell with them! They had no right, in my view, to even ask that question.
We can only wonder if they would have turned her away if she had said “Yes”? Or revealed she intended to talk about cost overuns through history, civil rights violations at previous Olympics? Holy Revelations, Batman!!
As I said, I recognize there ARE people they can legitimately exclude: did Goodman show up on any “watch” list?; does she have a record of “agitating” race hatred or violating our Charter?; has she been to Canada before or ever been denied entry?
They probably could have established this on their own computers in a minute!
And all they had to do is Google Goodman to find out if she is a legitimate journalist, speaker … or head honcho of some foreign conspiratorial underground network. Canada Border Service and CSIS might not have such “advanced” intelligence … but I’d bet the Internet, Facebook and Twitter would know! LOL!!
The media jumped on Goodman’s border detention and embarrassing treatment as a story as soon as they learned about it.
But that is not enough: the Canadian bureaucracy has made a major move against Freedom of Speech. A precedent has been set … and will stand … unless our media and civil liberties outlets pursue this matter.
How did this happen? Under what rule or regulation was it proper to ask the Olympic question? Or are there new temporary “Olympic” rules authorized to infringe on our freedoms ? Who issued the instructions to ask Olympic questions of writers or speakers?
There are many questions about this incident still unanswered; they should be posed to federal government officials, to the ministers responsible and to the Prime Minister in the House of Commons.
Don’t let it drop: even if Canada wins Gold … THIS could be the most lasting legacy of Vancouve 2010.
We must not let that happen.