Photo via Wikicommons
You know that conspiracy theory they threw out in Zeitgeist and on CNN about the US absorbing Canada and Mexico into a North American Union without borders? While it may seem like an unlikely prospect to most, the last couple of weeks have proven how real 21st century manifest destiny might actually be.
First of all, south of the border at an NSA conference supposedly held to quell the privacy shit-storm unleashed by Edward Snowden’s leaked documents, Senator Diane Feinstein lumped Canada and Mexico with the US into one big blue continent called the “homeland.” Then, through an access to information request, the Canadian Press uncovered an internal document from the RCMP that says the US doesn’t want to be subject to Canadian law when their officers operate in Canada.
Wait, you didn’t know US officers working for organizations like the CIA and DEA were allowed to usurp Westphalian sovereignty and just come to Canada with guns and arrest people? Even if you did know, both governments have been really hush-hush about the Beyond the Border agreement that is said to make us more safe.
Since these two “staunch allies, vital economic partners, and steadfast friends” signed the declaration in 2011, the two countries have been taking “baby steps” towards implementing a new superior security team—cue the Orwellian doublespeak—which is seriously called the Next Generation policing project.
Then they amended Canada’s Criminal Code to allow for the Shiprider program to let US coast guards go through Canadian waters and arrest people as long as an RCMP officer is on board.
The third step was creating Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBET) also known as Border Enforcement Security Teams (BEST) where teams of officers from both countries work together on each other’s land to catch security threats. With that step, they also allowed US customs officers to work in Canada to pre-clear shipments going south.
And now the step that is worrying a lot of people is when these IBET/BEST teams move inland. It was supposed to have started last year, but the reason it hasn’t happened yet is because the US wants to be given diplomatic immunity like they have in Afghanistan.
The problem isn’t with Americans and their terrible human rights record, questionable policing/detainment tactics, history of torture and refusal to sign on to the International Criminal Court…wait no, never mind, that is the problem. How can Canada trust a country that since 9/11 has infringed on the privacy and human rights of so many of their own citizens as well as foreigners in the name of the fight against terrorism?
The US hasn’t even trusted us to try our own homegrown terror suspects. I’m talking about Maher Arar who in 2002 was extradited to Syria and tortured for a year despite having lived in Canada for 15 years prior to being detained. There’s also Omar Khadr who at 15 years old was a Canadian citizen held in Guantanamo Bay for ten years before finally being tried and repatriated to his home country of Canada in 2012.
If Team America World Police is allowed free reign in Canada, how will officers who break Canadian law be treated if they aren’t subject to our laws? Will they just scurry on home without punishment if they do something like shoot a civilian without reasonable cause?
In this April 2012 list of recommendations, Canada does well to emphasize that it will stick to it’s own laws regarding the privacy of its citizens within this partnership. They have also underscored the fact that Canadian information will be held within our borders. But, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, we already know from the NSA scandal that our information goes through American servers. If we do catch US security forces doing something wrong do we actually have the marbles to say anything? I highly doubt it.
Canada’s interest in this whole thing is to encourage the US to keep doing business with us instead of buying their imports from elsewhere, but economically it has always been clear that we need them more than they need us. If a controversial situation arises such as an infringement on our privacy based on US laws not our own, the country that makes the final call is most probably not going to be the country with a population ten times smaller with a fraction of the defense force.
If you’re pissed off about this, hesitate a second before you blame the Conservative government. Talks about a North American Union date back to the Liberal government when Paul Martin took part in the Security and Prosperity Partnership meeting in 2005 to the anger of thousands of protesters in Montebello, Quebec. Similarly, Christy Clark’s Liberal government in British Columbia has commended Harper and Obama for signing the Beyond the Border agreement showing that this isn’t a partisan thing between Canada’s two oldest political parties.
This agreement comes at a time when it’s been really hard to trust our own security and disciplinary forces. With laws like the protestor mask ban and when a guy like officer James Forcillo has yet to be charged for putting nine bullets into 18-year old Sammy Yatim, including six when he was already on the ground, our draconian and questionable legal systems do start looking depressingly similar.
Creep Joel on Twitter @JoelBalsam
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