In the wake of the Maher Arar affair and considerable discussion about the use of unnamed sources, I read with great interest Jonathan Kay’s editorial in the National Post on February 27, 2007. His article correctly anticipated parliament’s opposition to the extension of preventative arrests and secret extra-judicial hearings, the two most problematic aspects of Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act, according to civil liberties advocates. It also suggests that the Liberal opposition is rooted in deals made prior to the Liberal leadership convention, and that Liberal MP Navdeep Bains was a major broker of such deals.
Under the headline “National security vs. Liberal ethno-politics,” Kay writes:
“Among veteran Liberal insiders, it is believed that the several hundred Sikh [Liberal] convention delegates Bains and his allies led into the Dion camp (via Gerard Kennedy) came with a price: an end to the investigative powers contained in the Anti-Terrorism Act, which was opposed for predictable reasons by various Sikh, Tamil and Muslim organizations.
“Indeed, I am informed by a well-informed source that the critical deals were cut months in advance, and were driven by Bains – and, in the case of Muslim delegates, by Arab-Canadian MP Omar Alghabra – through Kennedy, who’d been staked out early by ethno-politicians as an empty vessel into which they could pour their parochial agenda.
“These machinations should not be confined to history’s footnotes,” Kay continues.
Insofar as we expect our prime ministers to reflect general societal values and Canadian identity, Stephen Harper represents a unique entry into the national political landscape. Watching him and gauging his moves, clichés come to mind – know no fear, take no prisoners, and so forth – but increasingly Harper appears more than a tactical, domineering pit bull determined to win at all costs, a man who looks across the floor at Liberal leader Stéphane Dion and says to himself, “I can take him out…He’s a mark as easy for me as Stockwell Day was for Jean Chrétien.”
In a recent interview with Lewis Lapham, I asked about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. His response was curt: “If the system was working, I wouldn’t have to think about either of them for two years. They are, after all, US senators. Why don’t they just do their jobs?”