October 31, 2011

Bush in B.C.: Canada Hosts a War Criminal


Article: Let the U.S. judge Bush (source)

There was a Canadian chill in the air when George W. Bush turned up in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday to speak to a business audience. A couple of hundred raucous protesters were on hand, chanting “Arrest George Bush” and urging the Mounties to clap the former U.S. president in irons.

“Complicit in torture,” one sign read. “Waterboard Bush.” “War criminals out of Canada.” And “Shame, shame, shame.”

The campaign to make Bush a pariah in this country seems to have legs. Groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are trying to shame the Canadian government into doing what the U.S. government won’t: To arrest and try Bush for authorizing the waterboarding of terror suspects when he next sets foot on our soil.

It’s a misguided demand that puts Prime Minister Stephen Harper and potentially other leaders needlessly on the spot.

. . . .

Posted Canadian Responses:

Re: Let the U.S. judge Bush, Editorial Oct. 22

You advocate that only the U.S. can hold their former president responsible for behaviour widely seen as criminal and which involved many foreign nationals and activities on many foreign shores. By this logic, Canada should never have extradited former SS guard Michael Seifert or any other Nazi war criminals, as their crimes did not take place in Canada.

Arresting and trying George W. Bush here would certainly be a slap in the face to our American friends and allies, this is true. So what Canada should do is give fair warning to Bush and the American government that he is not welcome here and would be arrested and turned over to the Hague if he enters Canada.

If that shames them then they should be shamed.

Rory McRandall, Bancroft

Even if one does accept the argument that George W. Bush should be prosecuted in the U.S., why was he given a green light into Canada? Numerous individuals have been denied entry at the border because of their association, sometimes quite tenuous, with subversion, violence or terrorism.

However, there is overwhelming evidence that the Bush administration was responsible for systematic abuses — kicking captives, confining them in boxes, depriving them of sleep and exposing them to cold temperatures, waterboarding, shackling them for prolonged periods, and threatening their families with ill-treatment.

You can bet your throwing booties that any former leader from Sudan, Iran or North Korea with that kind of record wouldn’t be in Canada giving speeches at $600-a-plate dinners.

Larry Kazdan, Vancouver

You’ve come up with some very logical and powerful arguments in support of this, primarily, being the responsibility of U.S. and not Canada to bring a villainous Dubya to book for his gross disrespect to international law and wanton violations of human rights. No reasonable person could disagree with you.

However, I’ve a small question. Would you be offering the very same cogent reasoning for not hauling up a foreign villain in Canadian courts had the person been, for the sake of argument, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran?

Karamatullah K. Ghori, Richmond Hill

Since when did human rights stop being a Canadian concern? When did Canada stop being concerned about justice and accountability?

Carol Rawson, Toronto

If Spanish prosecutors had a chance to read your “Let Bush Be” editorial, the murderous Augusto Pinochet of Chile would never have been arrested and brought to justice for his heinous crimes.

The reason Canada can’t arrest Bush is obvious: The U.S. would invade us or drain us economically.

But someone should arrest that devil. Respect for law, tradition and custom demands it.

Vito Cupoli, Toronto

You are right, “Americans who have a problem with their past president should deal with it.”

However, by the same token, Canada should stop encouraging George W. Bush to visit Canada, for launching his book, justifying “extraordinary rendition” techniques, or doing business with Americans solely on American terms.

I have his recent visits to Calgary, Alberta and Surrey, B.C. in mind!

Jalaluddin S. Hussain, Brossard, Que.

We and the rest of the signatories of the ICC don’t need to arrest Bush to punish him, we just have to advise him that we will if he shows up. I’m disappointed that Mr. Arrar didn’t use some of that money he received from the government of Canada to pursue a charge of extraordinary rendition against the Bush administration, and if accepted by the court, effectively imprison him in the U.S.

Gordon Deane, Mississauga