rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

The Canadian torture state

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Whipping with cables. Prolonged solitary confinement. Other unspeakable acts, committed against citizens with official blessing. Use of "information" gathered by torture considered legitimate.

No, no, I don't mean the Torture Report. I'm talking about Canada.

Let the other sordid drama play itself out in America. We've now learned more about "rectal feeding" (read: medically unjustified anal rape) than we ever wanted to know, and that's just for starters. Did the authorities raid every prison for the criminally insane to swell CIA ranks? Far worse, we're watching a desperate attempt to frame this whole series of vile acts as a period in (recent) history now thankfully ended. Don't you go believing that fairytale, now.

Torture and other state-sanctioned violence against civilians continues. Gitmo persists, despite Obama’s promises. His drones are still killing and maiming civilians in far-off lands. American citizens can now be extra-judicially executed by Presidential decree. Due process, Obama's Attorney General explains, doesn't necessarily mean judicial process -- just a convo in the Oval Office will satisfy Constitutional requirements. Recall also that Obama gave immunity to the creatures who enabled and committed state torture under his predecessor. They aren't hurting any. The monstrous John Yoo, for one, who advocated for the legality of crushing the testicles of children, is now a well-paid professor in California. Dick Cheney is still making a fortune on the speaking circuit.

Well, as I said, let the U.S. be the U.S., that godawful prison-house, continuing on its downward spiral. But no one should imagine for one moment that it is alone in using torture as a routine implement of policy.

While the current Canadian government -- particularly its former Paraguayan wing -- is known for its open support of torture as a supposed information-gathering tool, the rot really set in under the previous Liberal administrations of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. Just ask a victim of "extraordinary rendition" like Maher Arar. Talk to others tortured and imprisoned thanks to the collegial complicity of CSIS with the secret police in Syria, Egypt and Sudan -- Canadian citizens Muayyed Nureddin, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou El-Maati, and Abousfian Abdelrazik.

Or ask (if any remain alive) the Afghan detainees turned over by Canadian Forces to Afghan government torturers. Stephen Harper was willing to risk all the marbles there, and he successfully maintained his cover-up after all was said and done. CSIS was up to its neck in that one, too. Most of the documents will likely never be made public, despite an historic ruling by the then-Speaker of the House of Commons, Peter Milliken.

Then there is child soldier Omar Khadr, tortured (once again with CSIS complicity, this time after the fact) in Guantanamo. His only way out of that hellhole was to cop a plea. He's sitting in a Canadian jail at the moment, while the Harper government continues to make his life miserable.

Is this torture thing just about national security? Not at all. Take the use of solitary confinement within Canada's prison system. Prolonged solitary confinement is well-recognized as a form of torture. But Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney has now confirmed that it will continue to be imposed on mentally ill inmates, rejecting out of hand the key recommendation from the coroner’s inquest into the death of Ashley Smith.

Let us not be too smug, then, about the horrific revelations south of the border. Because, to put it bluntly, we torture too -- and under Stephen Harper, torture has been officially and publicly sanctioned. Compliments of the season, everyone.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.