Sunday, July 25, 2010

Letter to Michael Ignatieff - Be a Champion of Civil Rights

Mr. Ignatieff (if you do ever see this),

I am writing as single, very much unimportant, Canadian. I believe I speak on behalf of a minority of Canadians, who are traumatized by the way that civil rights and due legal process were violated by law enforcement at the G20.  Almost none of them are sympathetic with the few vandals who broke and burned things at the G20.  Not sympathetic unless you would count us to be such for our expectation that our hallowed and civilized legal system should handle these accused in the exemplary way we expect it should handle anyone accused of a crime or a misdemeanor.

This minority is profoundly shocked by the appearance that to you, to Jack Layton, and to the Government in power - there is no shock or dismay, there has been no sharp, loud repudiation of the illegal actions of police in handling protesters at the G20.  To us, it feels like our Country has lost its honour. This is so dear a thing for us to loose faith in that we are all just reeling.  Even in so trivial a matter (trivial compared to the 9/11 bombings, the mayhem we sometimes see on the news from in foreign countries), you and every other leader, by your silence on the violations which occurred, appear to support these completely unacceptable policing actions.

I am even more worried about the great majority of Canadians who are angry at protesters, and don't for a minute think it a matter for their concern that important legal rights were violated by police.  Besides a tiny number of the truly black-hearted, I can't believe they have given real reflective thought to what is at stake if civil rights and due legal process can be suspended without concern for a small group of ordinary Canadians like this, even if their political views are disdained by the majority. 

I feel quite certain that you are one of this minority who are appalled at police actions at the G20.  You're too smart, to Canadian in the sense we once had a reputation for being, and too good a student of history.

You undoubtedly are aware of the sentiments of the Canadian public.  There are great other issues of major import to which you are deeply committed.  To come out swinging on this issue would diminish your opportunity to win the next election, and then make progress on these other issues.  

I hope you will say "To Hell!" with the voices of those advisors who want you to articulate only those positions which poll high numbers. Coming out powerfully on this issue, it is *possible* that you will prove yourself human, courageous, a man of principle. You can articulate the deep values embodied in our system with courage and conviction.  The fact that it may cost you the leadership of the Liberal Party to do so only underlies your political manhood.  There now appear to be no men in politics with cojones, and I am sorry to say on this issue, including you.  This is the kind of leader I want as Prime Minister of Canada, and which you can be. 

Please trust your convictions, sir!  If you do, you'll have my backing (sorry, I wish that was worth more!) when it comes time for the next election.  If you lose, you go down on a very important principle.  You can defeat Harper on this principle - it is joined at its heart to the Afghan detainee issue, the proroguing issue, and others.  It is worth fighting worth fighting for.  Please defend our belief in Canada as a country of decent people. 


David de Weerdt
Kitchener, Ontario

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