Shunpiking Magazine, HALIFAX (November 1, 2003) – Twenty five people vigorously picketed the CSIS office, Maritime Centre, Halifax, for one hour on the afternoon of October 31st as part of the National Day of Action to Stop Secret Trails in Canada.
The action was held during the height of rush hour in downtown Halifax and highly visible. There ws a lot of interest amongst people. Some passer-bys joined the picket and many people in cars also took leaflets.
Five hundred copies of Halifax People’s Voice exposing and condemning the secret trails and the use of “security certificates” were distributed. “We are holding this picket today to tell the federal government and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to stop arbitrary arrests and to stop secret trials in Canada,” the bulletin of the People’s Front (Halifax) declared.
One lady from the Annapolis Valley colourfully dressed as a witch wrote and printed her own leaflet making a poignant case on the unfair treatment of Adil Charkaoui in Montreal. A third-year law student from Dalhousie University, who came to join the picket, said he was familiar with the process as set down under the Immigration and Refugee Protection (sic) Act and anti-terrorism legislation and it totally violated due process of law.
Denise Allen, an Afro Nova Scotian postal worker, said that along with racial profiling of immigrants CSIS had repeatedly conducted espionage on officials of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in violation of their rights.
Even before the demonstration, many e-mail list serves and local websites started posting information about the National Day of Action and the entire process of secret trails. People enthusiastically shouted such slogans as “Stop Secret Trials in Canada!,” “End the Security Certificates!,” “Stop Racial Profiling!,” “Down with CSIS!,” “An Injury to One is An Injury to All!” and “All for One and One for All!”
Tony Seed of the People’s Front (Halifax), and editor and publisher of Shunpiking magazine, along with Dr. Ismail Zaid, president of the Canada Palestine Association, addressed the rally. Along with exposing the details of the utter violation of due process of law and fundamental democratic rights of human beings, they highlighted that the use of security certificates to target and discriminate those of Muslim faith or of Arabic background is part of an attack on the entire Canadian people, to cause splits, promote racist hysteria and create a precedent to justify the methods of a police state.
Though those immigrants and permanent residents who are presently unjustly incarcerated by the government are in Central Canada, Tony Seed gave examples of how the CSIS, RCMP and FBI have been targeting mosques and Muslim immigrants (especially students and young people) in Atlantic Canada, particularly New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. These activities violate the right to conscience and the right to association and other political and social rights which modern society has given rise to.
As to whether or not CSIS can be the arbiter of who decides is or is not a “terrorist,” Tony Seed said it is unacceptable that those engaged in extra-judicial state terrorism also be given judicial rights over the polity. He detailed examples of the dirty role of the CSIS and the RCMP together had played with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 1999 before and after the Marshall Decision in fomenting discord, violence and vigilantism amongst Mi’kmaq First Nations and Acadian fishermen in Burnt Church to frustrate aboriginal treaty rights and the rights of the small inshore fishermen.
This “divide and conquer” strategy had been documented by Shunpiking magazine at the time. In May, 1999 the secret service actually wrote “assessment reports” for the RCMP predicting “violence” – when the Marshall Decision was not released until September of that year – and then in October the RCMP sat back when the corporate fish processors organized attacks and violent destruction of the gear and livelihood of the Mi’kmaq fishermen, without arresting a soul, as the monopoly media all the while falsely promoted this as a conflict amongst the people, between Natives and “white fisherman.”
This living experience of the people in the Maritimes shows how the Canadian state has been using the same strategy and impunity to criminalize national minorities, the First Nations and any collective of the people who takes a stand for their rights. “CSIS has carried out these activities with impunity on behalf of the Canadian state, it is hardly qualified to uphold the rule of law. This too is unacceptable.”
Dr. Ismail Zayid further pointed out that while the Canadian government is taking great efforts to project itself to the world, and especially to the Middle East, as the greatest democracy, these claims are thoroughly transparent, utterly shameless and totally unacceptable. The Canadian government is conciliating with the violation of international law internationally (as with the invasion and occupation of Iraq) while the existence of the secret trial process is turning the rule of law on its head within Canada. The government of Canada is succumbing to the blackmail that the only way to ensure Canada’s security and sovereignty is to further integrate with the U.S.
What this experience shows is the necessity to develop the campaign against secret trails in Canada on a national and international basis and to provide information and education to arouse Canadians against this attack on their fundamental democratic rights. To that end, the People’s Front / Halifax will be organizing in the near future an in-depth forum on Secret Trails, Security Certificates and CSIS at Dalhousie University.
This article was featured on several websites, such as Montreal Muslim News and the Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee