A Barn-burner of a speech

I have been wondering why Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has not lately been criticizing the United States on the same basis that our own Democrats are doing. To wit; why aren’t we being held up as examples of fascist civil liberties deniers based on “warrantless” NSA intercepts of terrorist communications?

Is it because the Prime Minister is distracted by the Income Trust insider trading scandal? Is it because he can’t figure out how anti-Americanism in this context could actually deliver any votes? Is it because he is aware that he is Pierre Trudeau’s legacy?

I favor the third explanation, since it includes the second.

Paul Martin is surely Pierre Trudeau’s legacy to Canadians, and civil liberties anti-Americanism just won’t work in a country where the response to the kidnapping of a couple of politicians is the War Measures Act.

There is no reason Canadian Liberals shouldn’t try to blame the US, for example, for the existence of the Bloc Quebecois – until you remember how the flammability of Quebec barns has declined since the 70s.

I’d like to remind Canadians of the last time the War Measures Act was invoked and invite them to recoil from the level of US self-flagellation that would have been unleashed had George Bush been accused by Nancy Pelosi of having the FBI burn down some barns.

Concerns initiated from questionable security activities of the RCMP in its fight against Quebec separatism. Allegations made against the RCMP included an illegal barn burning, the issuing of a false FLQ manifesto, improper use of confidential personal information, theft, break-ins and forgery.

Hard to top that, and even harder to top Pierre Trudeau’s War Measures Act speech. You don’t need all of it, but listen to a bit and compare it to Bush’s speeches about 9/11.

Remember, Trudeau was a man whose charisma caused teenage girls to swoon, so his affectless delivery of the news that the very fabric of Canada was in serious danger is amazing. So too, given the threat only existed in Quebec, was his remedy: nationwide martial law. He wasn’t the last Canadian PM to use federal security services outside normal law.

But never mind Trudeau’s lack of passion, maybe a rock star is well advised to be dispassionate in explaining that the country he leads may not be viable in the next 72 hours. Notwithstanding (a word he uses in the speech) that, please compare and contrast the FLQ and Al-Qaeda, whose latter minions are today relatively unfettered north of the 49th parallel.

Anyway, that legacy is why we’re not getting any flack from Martin on civil liberties issues.