NEWS: Council calls for Cheney to be barred from Canada on Monday

Brent Patterson
10 years ago
Former US vice-president Dick Cheney is scheduled to be in Vancouver this coming Monday. As the RCMP and the Ottawa Police Service prepare to arrest those participating in a peaceful direct action on Parliament Hill that same day against the environmental crimes of the Harper government, Human Rights Watch says Canada should bring criminal charges against Cheney for his role in authorizing the use of torture during the Bush Administration. The Official Opposition has also said that Cheney should be barred from entering Canada. The Council of Canadians has joined this broader civil society call to deny Cheney entry into Canada on the basis of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Notably, as pointed out by Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow in her book Too Close for Comfort, Cheney is a prominent supporter of the further expansion of the tar sands. She writes, "Testifying before Congress in 2002, Cheney declared that the 'continued development' of the Athabasca tar sands in northern Alberta could be a 'pillar of sustained North American energy and economic security'." In 1999, Cheney stated that the US would need an extra 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. It is in this context, that Barlow also notes that in late-2001 US ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci stated that Canada and the United States needed to streamline their approvals process for pipelines. Additionally, as a congressman, Cheney opposed extending the Clean Water Act, support for the United Nations, and even a resolution calling for the release of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela from prison. HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH The Toronto Star reports, "(The New York-based group Human Rights Watch) is urging the federal government to bring criminal charges against former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney, accusing him (of authorizing the use of) torture of detainees during the years of the Bush administration." "Human Rights Watch claims that overwhelming evidence of torture by the Bush administration, including at least two cases involving Canadian citizens (Maher Arar and Omar Khadr), are grounds for Canada to investigate Cheney and comply with the Convention Against Torture. (The group says) Canadian law expressly provides for jurisdiction over an individual for torture and other crimes if the complainant is a Canadian citizen, even for offences committed outside of Canada. It said in a news release issued Saturday that Canada had ratified the (Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture) in 1987 and incorporated its provisions into the Canadian Criminal Code." CBC adds, "The rights group says it has documented the role of senior officials in the administration of George W. Bush, including Cheney, in authorizing torture of detainees, including waterboarding — a form of simulated drowning involving water being poured into the mouth of a subdued person. ...Cheney was instrumental in creating U.S. detainee policy and was a member of the government committee that approved interrogation policies, the group said. Cheney's new memoir, In My Time, details his continued support of harsh interrogation techniques, which he called 'critically important' to national security. And in an interview with NBC’s Today show in August, Cheney defended waterboarding as a 'safe, legal and effective' method of interrogation, adding that only 'a handful' of figures were subjected to the practice." THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION The Toronto Star also reports, "The complaint from the human rights group came on the heels of a New Democrat MP's call on Friday for the federal government to bar Cheney from entering Canada. Don Davies (who is the Immigration Critic for the Official Opposition in the House of Commons) sent a letter to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney urging the federal government to deny Cheney entry, also citing the treatment of detainees during the Bush administration years." Staight.com adds, "Davies cited Section 35 of (the Immigration and Refugee Protect Act, IRPA), which states in part that a foreign national is inadmissible for entry into Canada if the person is 'a prescribed senior official in the service of a government that, in the opinion of the Minister, engages or has engaged in terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity within the meaning of subsections 6(3) to (5) of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act'. ...Davies also cited Section 36 of the Immigration and Refugee Protect Act that provides in part that a person is also inadmissible if the individual was responsible for 'an act outside Canada that is an offence in the place where it was committed and that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence under an Act of Parliament punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years'." The letter from Davies states, "Minister, may I remind you of your own government’s initiatives this summer in which you called on the public to assist your government in removing from Canada those individuals who had engaged in serious criminality, war crimes or crimes against humanity. May I also remind you of your own government’s actions in denying entry to British MP George Galloway. At that time you stated that: 'It’s not about words. It’s about deeds'. ...Minister, the essence of just application of the law is that it is applied evenly and consistently. I would therefore respectfully request that you deny entry to Mr. Cheney on grounds of inadmissibility under IRPA for having engaged in acts of torture. In the event that you do not do so, I would respectfully request that a report be prepared setting out the relevant facts, and that you refer same to the Immigration Division for an admissibility hearing with a view to issuing a removal order against Mr. Cheney, all pursuant to section 44 of IRPA." CIVIL SOCIETY Davies spoke at a media conference on Friday joined by Gail Davidson of Lawyers Against War, Derrick O'Keefe of the StopWar Coalition and the Canadian Peace Alliance, and global peace advocate Blake MacLeod. The Council of Canadians was requested to endorse this call shortly before the media conference - and did so.