I am shocked, outraged, and embarrassed by the government’s proposal to prosecute environmental protesters as terrorists. Embarrassed because I fear that our country’s stellar reputation among nations—which dates back to Vimy Ridge in 1917 and burnished by Lester B. Pearson, who won the Nobel Peace Prize 40 years later for basically inventing peacekeeping— would be irreparably damaged if the cherished democratic ideal of peaceful protest were to be criminalized. More recently, rather than continue with the relatively benign mission of rebuilding the Kabul airport, Canada took the fight to the Taliban; my forward operating base was in the beating heart of traditional Taliban territory. My fellow Afghan War veterans have bled and died for such democratic principles and freedoms, including writing letters like this one. Terrorism is defined by the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism as an “act intended to cause serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.”
As far as I know, there is no situation of armed conflict in the true north strong and free. Undeterred, CSIS and the RCMP have identified Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as ‘ multi-issue extremist groups’ and a threat to Canadians, according to the Globe and Mail. Putting Greenpeace and people like David Suzuki on a par with Al-queda and the brutal thugs of the Taliban is an act I would expect from a Margaret Thatcher or George W Bush, or, for that matter, Moammar Kaddhafi.
Prime Minister Harper, it’s long past time that you start debating environmental activists on the issues of the day and treating them like valued experts on the reasonable, sustainable energy policy you claim to seek.