Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Letter to a friend on the other side of the G20 policing issue.

I sent this letter to a friend who said he had almost no concern about the way law enforcement handled protesters at the G20.  He is a man of the world, and has been present when security forces in other countries used lethal force to quell citizen protests. In his eyes, the tempest about alleged police violations of civil rights and due process at the G20 is unnecessary and even adorably naive.  

July 15, 2010

My friend,

I understand that, especially for someone like yourself who has seen truly repressive regimes in action, on the abuse of rights scale, the G20 law enforcement action hardly rates as a concern (comparatively speaking).  I completely agree with you on that, which is the main point you made in your reply to my letter of concern over G20 policing.

I might be even more of a law and order guy than you are.  For me, even a little domestic abuse (just a head butt maybe), a little crime (bricking a shop window maybe), a little twisting of civil rights or legal due process (using unnecessary force to arrest, search without legal grounds, arrest without legal grounds, or imprisonment without access to legal counsel)... is unacceptable.

I think we actually would be completely in agreement, if you were looking at G20 events from this same angle.  

Personally, I would never have gone to protest there.  I agree that G20/G8 leaders should meet, think Toronto should have been a fine place to meet, and have little in common ideologically with most of the protesters who showed up. I'm a long-time fan of Canada - something that goes deep in the family back to my Great Uncle Charlie who was an MP and backer of Laurier, and my father, who was a member of the Canadian Judicial Council for ten years, prosecuted Clifford Olsen, Chinese Triads, Columbia Drug lords....  My father was however, not a "anything the police do in Canada is fine with me" kind of guy, as a judge.  He held a *very high standard* for conduct by our police forces, and on more than one occasion, corrected their mistakes and brought them into line with our very high Canadian standards.

Those are the standards I believe in, and I think, the ones that you and every Canadian believes in and counts on.  What happened at the G20 is in no way equal in degree of wrongness to what happened in Tien An Mien Square in June 1989.  Or in comparison to the other incidents you witnessed personally.  Just because it doesn't rank on the scale of world-wide wrongs done by a state to their own people, doesn't mean that it shouldn't concern us.  You said: "and brother I can say full well I am proud and thankful at our countries naivety and our child like reaction to real world security..."  Yes.  That's it.  We are concerned when things go (comparatively) 'a little' wrong....it is a lot wrong to us.  So long as it stays that way, we'll continue to be the freest country in the world.  



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