Back-Talk from the 'Old Stock'

Back-Talk from the 'Old Stock'

Stephen Harper has been talking recently about "old stock" Canadians -- and at the same time stirring up fear and loathing against more recent arrivals in this country, notably those of Muslim faith, in order to mobilize electoral support for his Conservative Party. I think it's time "old stock" Canadians shared their opinion of these antics. 

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Stephen Harper’s Stealth Campaign to Purchase Not-So-Stealthy F-35 Fighter-Bombers

First published by the Centre for Research on Globalization (27 April 2011),


Stephen Harper’s campaign to persuade Canadians of the merits of the Lockheed-Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter has been a stealthy one. Harper successfully evaded the BS-detector radar defences of nearly 40 per cent of the Canadian electorate on May 2, 2011. Will he be able to repeat the trick when it comes to pushing through the purchase of the radically over-priced and under-performing F-35s?


1. A stealthy price?

Mr. Harper has told us—in that bored-Sunday-school-teacher tone of patient exasperation that seems to be his native accent—that the 65 F-35As he bargained for at a cost of just $75 million Canadian each are a “good deal” for this country.

But there are problems with that price-tag—a figure which, as defence journalist David Pugliese notes, “is nowhere to be found in official U.S. government reports on the aircraft.”1

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) “has warned about serious ongoing problems with the aircraft and rising costs,” and estimates “that the F-35 model that Canada is buying will cost between $110 to $115 million per plane.”2

US Vice Admiral David Venlet, who heads the F-35 Joint Program Office, testified to a US congressional committee in March 2011 that his confident “procurement cost estimate” for the F-35A, the conventional take-off and landing model that Stephen Harper wants, is “$126.6 million (including $15 million for the engine).”3

Winslow Wheeler, a former defence procurement analyst with the GAO and currently Director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Washington, DC Center for Defense Information, has warned that the F-35As, including their engines, will probably cost Canada “around $148 million” each.4

Former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff proposed that the price per unit would amount to some $156-million US when a maintenance contract is included.5

Steven Staples, President of the Rideau Institute and founder of, noted in January 2011 that “Canadians are being asked to spend between $16 and $21 billion of public dollars in initial purchase and maintenance costs, according to Department of National Defence estimates, […] without a clear explanation of why [F-35s] are needed for our protection.”6 Yet according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, these DND estimates are misleading: the F-35 program’s full cost to Canada will be more like $29.3-billion, or $450-million for each plane over its planned lifetime.7

Stephen Harper does indeed have supporters in this debate. Prominent among them is retired General Paul Manson, former Chief of the Defence Staff—who in January 2011 stealthily neglected to say, when he co-authored an Ottawa Citizen op-ed piece pushing the F-35 deal, that he is also a former Chairman of Lockheed Martin Canada, and a former member of the Board of that same company.8

When he’s not in stealth mode, General Manson’s default posture seems to be bluster: his notion of refuting Winslow Wheeler’s critique of the F-35 deal is to denounce it as “a low-credibility rant by an American visitor from a left-wing Washington organization renowned for its anti-defence posture.”9 (That would be the Center for Defense Information, “an organization founded by retired American generals and admirals.”10)


2. Stealthy engines?

There may be problems not just with the F-35A’s price, but with its engine as well. The Pentagon’s original procurement plans called for the development of two competing engine models, one by Pratt & Whitney, and the other by General Electric and Rolls-Royce. Shortly after the Pentagon cancelled the second engine program in March 2011, all twelve of the F-35 test planes had to be grounded due an in-flight failure of both electrical generators in one of the Pratt & Whitney engines.11

That little glitch may evoke unhappy memories among retired air force pilots of another Lockheed single-engine fighter, the CF-104 Starfighter, which entered service with the Canadian air force in 1962. Canada had a total of 200 CF-104s, of which fully 110 were lost in accidents, many of them engine flame-outs. The surviving Lawn Darts, or Widowmakers, as pilots called them, were replaced by two-engine CF-18s during the 1980s.12

We should be asking whether it makes sense for an air force that flies fighter planes, sometimes in difficult weather conditions, out of bases like Cold Lake, Alberta and Goose Bay, Labrador, to send its pilots up in single-engine aircraft.

But Stephen Harper appears to have finessed the engine question by quoting a price for the F-35A that includes neither the program’s rapidly escalating development costs over the past several years nor—more basically—the cost of supplying these aircraft with engines.13

Is it possible, one might wonder, that Harper actually means it when he sits down at the piano to warble out John Lennon’s peace anthem, “Imagine”?14 Is he willing to buy fighter-bombers, yes, but not the engines that would get them into the air, where they might harm other human beings—or even other fifth-generation fighter aircraft, like the Chinese J-20 and the Russian Sukhoi 35S and T50 PAK SA? Or are Harper’s “Imagine” and his fiddling with F-35 figures just two more instances of stealth behaviour?15


3. A not-so-stealthy aircraft?

Actually, the likelihood of the F-35s doing serious harm to other new-fangled fighter aircraft—as opposed, let’s say, to defenceless civilian populations in de-developed countries whom Mr. Harper might want to bomb into an understanding of applied human rights—seems rather slender.

For there appear, finally, to be problems with the F-35's performance. Perhaps most strikingly, the plane’s geometry means that it is significantly stealthy (that is, able to avoid early detection and ‘lock-on’ by enemy radar) only from directly in front. Together with recent and ongoing improvements in air defence radar systems, this suggests that the F-35 will be unable to reliably carry out its primary ground-attack role unless air defences have already been disabled by more capably stealthy fighters like the F22.16

In other respects as well the F-35 has been harshly criticized. Winslow Wheeler has called the aircraft a “gigantic performance disappointment,” with sluggish aerodynamics and merely average performance as a bomber.17 Although it is being marketed as a multi-role aircraft, the F-35 appears to be overmatched by other currently available fighter aircraft, in terms both of the weaponry it can carry and its powers of evasion. One expert has quoted Major Richard Koch, chief of the USAF Air Combat Command’s advanced air dominance branch, as saying: “I wake up in a cold sweat at the thought of the F-35 going in with only two air-dominance weapons.”18 And in a recent computer-simulation wargame conducted by the RAND corporation which matched F-35s against new-generation Russian fighters, the F-35s were shown up as unable to maneuver, climb, or run away19—as one report brutally put it, they were “clubbed like baby seals.”20

A very Canadian image, that: but do we really need to place ourselves at either end of this particular stick or club?

* * * *

Some of the basic facts about the F-35’s limitations have been usefully summarized by the Australian expert, and F-35 opponent, Carlo Kopp:

The F-35 is an aircraft which was defined as a battlefield interdictor, intended to attack and destroy hostile battlefield ground forces, once opposing air defences have been stripped away by the much more capable, and now cheaper F-22 Raptor. The JSF aircraft was defined for a very narrow niche role, and its intended performance and capabilities were constrained to avoid overlapping other US Air Force capability niches, such as ‘deep strike’ occupied by the F-15E and F-22A, and ‘air dominance’, occupied by the F-22A.

The actual F-35 aircraft, as it has ‘devolved’ through a problematic and protracted development process, shows all the signs of falling well below the promised and mediocre performance targets set in the original definition document.

[….] What is remarkable about the Canadian government decision to pursue the F-35 is that it occurred during a period where the failure of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is patently obvious, well documented publicly, and provable by reading a myriad of US and non-US public documents.21

A lucid alternative to the F-35A program has been advanced by Steven Staples of the Rideau Institute and published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. He proposes, first, abandoning so-called “expeditionary” roles for the Canadian air force. (And why not? Since the Cold War that justified Canada stationing interceptors and fighter-bombers in Western Europe is long past, of what conceivable use are F-35s abroad, unless to participate in crooked and illegal resource wars like the one currently underway in Libya?)

Staples suggests extending the life of Canada’s existing CF-18s by restricting them to a domestic air defence and air surveillance and control role, and considering less expensive alternatives to the F-35. (These might include modernized versions of the current CF-18 Super Hornet, or other aircraft such as the Saab Gripen or the Dassault Rafale—and, for other purposes, the coming generation of long-range, long-endurance pilotless aircraft.)

We might then, Staples says, use the money saved by these measures “to contribute to Canadian and global security in more effective ways.”22




1  David Pugliese, “Canadian Public Has Been Provided With F-35 Information, Says Harper. Conservative Leader Says Stealth Fighter Purchase a ‘Good Deal’ For Canadians,” Ottawa Citizen (11 April 2011),

2  David Pugliese, “Will F-35s include engines? Defence Department report raises questions,” Winnipeg Free Press (17 April 2011),

3  Quoted from a statement issued by Alan Williams, former Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel) of the Defence Department, in response to the Conservative Party’s April 10, 2011 media release; reproduced by Pugliese, “Canadian Public Has Been Provided.”

4  David Pugliese, “Canada’s F-35s: Engines not included. Government will be required to provide powerplant for stealth fighters, documents show,” Ottawa Citizen (17 April 2011),

5  Max Munsle, “Canadian Politians Lack Problem-Solving Skills in F-35 Debate,” Canadian Affairs by Suite 101 (26 April 2011),

6  Steven Staples, “Harper’s F-35 stealth fighter purchase confirms Eisenhower’s warning,” (17 January 2011),

7  Munsle, “Canadian politicians”; and Mary Bourrie and Zhang Dacheng, “F-35 purchase continues to dominate debate in Canadian election, (11 April 2011),

8  “Ottawa Citizen Article by Paul Manson and Angus Watt,” F-35: Canada’s Next Generation Fighter (24 January 2011),

9  Paul Manson, “Don’t lecture us about defence,” Ottawa Citizen (13 April 2011),

10  I derive this information from, which is linked to the Rideau Institute—described in Manson’s letter as “farleft.” See “Manson: Stop ranting!!!” (17 April 2011),

11  Bob Cox, “F-35 engine debate rages; plane’s cost deepens political flap in Canada,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (24 March 2011),,0_.

12  “Canadair CF-104 Starfighter,” Wikipedia, The German Luftwaffe made less intensive use of its 916 Starfighters, but still lost 292 planes—and 115 pilots—to accidents. See “List of F-104 Starfighter operators,” Wikipedia,

13  Pugliese, “Canada’s F-35s: Engines not included.”

14  Stefan Christoff, “Imagine that, Yoko Ono nails Stephen Harper for copyright infringement,” (7 April 2011),

15  Harper’s repertoire also includes the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash”; see “Harper rocks Tory party with musical performance,” Toronto Star (8 December 2010), For one musician’s response, see Dick Overdale, “Hey Stephen, you can’t play in my band,” (27 April 2011), The best available dissection of Harper’s behaviour is by Murray Dobbin, “Harper’s Hitlist: Power, Process and the Assault on Democracy,” The Council of Canadians (15 April 2011),; see also Christian Nadeau, Rogue in Power: Why Stephen Harper is Remaking Canada by Stealth, trans. Eric Hamovitch and Robert Chodos (Toronto: Lorimer, 2011).

16  Noah Shachtman, “$337 Billion Stealth Jet Not So Stealthy: Report,” Danger Room: What’s Next in National Security (7 January 2009), The report to which Shachtman refers is by Dr. Carlo Kopp, “Assessing Joint Strike Fighter Defence Penetration Capabilities,” Air Power Australia (10 April 2011),

17  Greg Markey, “U.S. Expert says F-35 purchase is wrong deal for Canada,” Ottawa Citizen (13 April 2011),

18  Quoted by Bill Sweetman, “JSF Leaders Back in the Fight,” Ares: A Defense Technology Blog, in Aviation Week (22 September 2008),

19  Jeroen Trommelen, “2016: Russen overweldigen JSF,” (20 September 2008), “Volgens de analyse zal hij ook directegevechten moeten leveren. Daarin es hij ‘dubbel inferieur’, omdat hij ‘niet kan draaien, niet kan klimmen en niet kan rennen’.”

20  Quoted by Sweetman, “JSF Leaders Back in the Fight.”

21  Dr. Carlo Kopp, “F-35 JSF: Can It Meet Canada’s Needs?” Air Power Australia (19 October 2010),

22  Steven Staples, “Pilot Error: Why the F-35 stealth fighter is wrong for Canada,” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (14 October 2010), available at   

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian War Crimes in Afghanistan

First published at the Centre for Research on Globalization (24 April 2011),, and reproduced online at six other websites. The present version contains some additional material on the attitudes of senior Canadian military officers towards the torture of Afghan detainees.


Torture has been a grim component of nearly every aspect of the current war in Afghanistan. Setting aside the behaviour both of the Taliban regime and of their Afghan opponents, the warlords of the Northern Alliance, which included grievous violations of human rights, US forces were involved in torture from almost the moment of their arrival in Afghanistan in late 2001.

In the years after 2001, the US government attempted to justify its invasion and occupation of Afghanistan through narratives of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that were based almost entirely on confessions elicited by torture from actual or suspected associates of Osama bin Laden.

And torture has been an integral part of the counterinsurgency tactics employed by the US, its NATO allies, and the Karzai regime. These tactics—involving infantry sweeps through communities in whose vicinity resistance has been encountered, more or less indiscriminate arrests, and the handing over of prisoners to the Afghan police or to the National Directorate of Security, whose ‘intelligence’ (based on torture) then serves as a guide to further arrests—have victimized large numbers of civilians, most of them people with no connection to the Afghan resistance.

Canada, as a practitioner of these tactics, has been implicated for at least the past six years in a detainee-torture scandal, one of whose consequences has been very serious damage to Canada’s international reputation. There is evidence that this scandal reaches to the very highest levels of the Canadian government.


1. Illegality of the Afghanistan War

Growing numbers of people are skeptical about the justifications offered by the United States for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Nearly all of the ‘evidence’ in the key chapters of the 9/11 Commission Report which assign responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist attacks is derived from torture—which means that these chapters have the epistemic value of pure fiction. (One of the major sources, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was waterboarded 183 times by the CIA; his confessions were confirmed by the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times. The 9/11 Commission’s requests to interview these ‘high-value’ prisoners, or even just their CIA interrogators, were denied; and in 2005, in defiance of court orders, the CIA destroyed its videotapes of the interrogations.)1

The invasion of Afghanistan appears to have been primarily motivated by the energy geopolitics of a new “Great Game.” When the Taliban came to power in 1996, there were negotiations for a Unocal pipeline from the Caspian Basin gas fields across Afghanistan into Pakistan and thence to the Indian Ocean. But after Osama bin Laden’s 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa and retaliatory Tomahawk strikes into Afghanistan, these talks collapsed. There is evidence that in the summer of 2001—months before the 9/11 attacks—American diplomats threatened the Taliban that continued obstruction of the pipeline plan would result in a bombing campaign, and their overthrow, by October of that year.2

US and Canadian government officials have scoffed at the notion that energy geopolitics had anything to do with the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. But in June 2008 the distinguished petroleum economist John Foster, who has worked for British Petroleum, the World Bank, Petro-Canada, and the Inter-American Development Bank, published a monograph on the subject of plans for a $7.6-billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline that was going to be built, at American insistence, in 2010—and the Canadian government acknowledged that Canadian forces would indeed be assigned to protect the pipeline, whose route lies through Kandahar province, where most of our casualties have been suffered.3

However, it was for different reasons that on October 9, 2001, two days after the bombing of Afghanistan began, Michael Mandel, of Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School, declared the attack illegal. In his words, it “violate[d] international law and the express words of the United Nations Charter,” whose Article 51 only “gives a state the right to repel an attack that is ongoing or imminent as a temporary measure until the UN Security Council can take steps necessary for international peace and security.”4 Since the attack was not ongoing,5 and since neither of the UN Security Council resolutions condemning the September 11 attacks “can remotely be said to authorize the use of military force,” Mandel declared that those who die from the attack on Afghanistan “will be victims of a crime against humanity, just like the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.”6 In November 2001, Thomas Jefferson School of Law professor Marjorie Cohn made similar arguments, adding that the bombing was not legitimate self-defence because the atrocities of 9/11 “were criminal attacks, not ‘armed attacks’ by another state.”7

Subsequently expounded by Mandel and by Cohn at greater length, and supplemented by further considerations, including the fact that in September and October 2001 the Taliban regime offered to give Bin Laden up for trial in a third country,8 these views are shared by other leading specialists in international law, among them Francis Boyle, Alex Conte, and Myra Williamson.9


2. The Canadian Torture Scandal

Illegalities of a more concrete nature have come to haunt Canada’s participation in the war in Afghanistan. In December 2001, a cover of legality was given to the formation of an occupation army, or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), by the UN Security Council’s acceptance of the claim that this force was established “at the request of the Government of Afghanistan”10—which at the time consisted of Hamid Karzai, protected by a guard of US SEAL and British SBS special forces soldiers, and a loose coalition of US-financed ‘Northern Alliance’ warlords. But it was the question of how to dispose of Afghans captured by Canadian troops, whether in combat conditions or merely under suspicion, that developed into a specifically Canadian scandal.

In January 2002, there were questions in Parliament over the revelation that members of the Joint Task Force 2 unit, after taking part in the fighting in the Tora Bora mountains, had transferred prisoners into US custody.11 The horrors of Abu Graib in Iraq became public knowledge at the end of April 2004; shortly afterward, it was revealed that prisoners held by the US in Afghanistan were also systematically tortured, and in at least five cases had died from their treatment. In June 2004, a Human Rights Watch spokesman declared that in US prisons in Afghanistan “The entire system operates outside the rule of law. At least in Iraq, the US is trying to run a system that meets Geneva standards. In Afghanistan, they’re not.”12

With the option of Canadian-run POW camps ruled out from the start, and with further transfers into US prisons becoming politically impossible, the Canadian Forces passed captives on to Afghan authorities, amid unlikely claims that ‘state-building’ programs were taking effect. But even after acquiring a façade of legitimacy through the 2004 presidential and 2005 parliamentary elections,13 the Karzai regime remained one to which any transfer of prisoners was a most dubious matter. By 2005, Eileen Olexiuk, the second-ranking Canadian diplomat in Kabul, was raising concerns to the Paul Martin government about the fate of transferred detainees.14 Her messages were ignored, and a toothless memorandum of agreement regarding detainee transfers that was signed in December 2005 by General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff, and the Afghan Minister of Defence, contained no provisions for follow-up access to detainees.15 Evidence of systematic torture continued to accumulate, and Richard Colvin, who in 2006-2007 held the diplomatic position Olexiuk had occupied, called attention to it in urgent messages which he circulated as widely as possible through all the official government and military channels available to him.16

Article 12 of the Third Geneva Convention is categorical: “Prisoners of war may only be transferred […] to a Power which is a party to the Convention and after the Detaining Power has satisfied itself of the willingness and ability of such transferee Power to apply the Convention.”17 Afghanistan has been a party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions since 1956, and in late 2009 acceded to the 1977 Additional Protocols I and II, which protect victims of international conflicts and civil wars.18 However, Olexiuk’s and Colvin’s messages show that Canada had not “satisfied itself”—despite whatever senior officials might say—that the Karzai regime would treat prisoners decently.

Even without direct statements from Canadian diplomats, senior military and civilian officials could have no grounds for pretending ignorance. In December 2009, Lawyers Against the War (LAW) itemized in an “Open letter to the Parliamentary Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan” the evidence that Canada’s detainee policies violated Canadian and international law.19 By the spring of 2007, this included—in addition to legal opinions sent by LAW on February 1, 2004 and March 6, 2007 to Prime Ministers Martin and Harper and their senior ministers—expressions of concern by Amnesty International in early 2002 over detainee transfers to US forces, and in December 2005 over “the widespread, longstanding reality of torture throughout the Afghan prison system”;20 the Report of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan, M. Cherif Bassouni, to the UN Commission on Human Rights (11 March 2005), referring to torture practices current within the Afghan security system; The London Compact of February 1, 2006, which set as a goal—for the end of 2010—the Afghan state’s adoption of “corrective measures […] aimed at preventing arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extortion and illegal appropriation of property with a view to the elimination of these practices”;21 and the US State Department’s report on Afghanistan in 2006, which noted reports by human rights organizations that Afghan authorities in Herat, Helmand and elsewhere used torture consisting of “pulling out fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, beatings, sexual humiliation, and sodomy.”22

Ironically, it was evidence of prisoner abuse in Canadian rather than Afghan custody, obtained in early February 2007 by University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran and passed on to the Military Police Complaints Commission, that helped to give the issue increased public prominence.23 A quick succession of other events brought the pot to a boil. On February 21, 2007, Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Association applied for a judicial review of Canada’s detainee-transfer policy.24 In March, the Minister of National Defence, Gordon O’Connor, acknowledged that since April 2006 he had repeatedly misled the House of Commons by falsely claiming that the Red Cross was monitoring transferred prisoners on Canada’s behalf.25 And on April 23, 2007, The Globe and Mail published an investigative report, based on interviews with thirty Afghan prisoners whom the Canadian army had handed over to the Afghan National Directorate of Security, which showed they had been systematically tortured, with apparent Canadian complicity.26 University of British Columbia law professor Michael Byers commented: “If this report is accurate, Canadians have engaged in war crimes, not only individually but also as a matter of policy.”27

The Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry prompted by Professor Attiran’s complaint subpoenaed the diplomat Richard Colvin, who in late 2009, when the MPCC’s proceedings had been seriously delayed by interventions from the Harper government,28 was also called before the House of Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan. In October 2009, shortly before he testified there, the claims of Prime Minister Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay that they had not been informed on the detainee issue were vigorously refuted by General Rick Hillier’s memoir, A Soldier First.29

But Colvin’s testimony on November 18, 2009 was more thoroughly damaging in its exposure of high-level lawlessness. He revealed that the Canadian military’s system of reporting the transfer of detainees delayed follow-up, making it all the more likely that they would be tortured (as his sources thought nearly all of them were); he claimed that in 2006-2007 senior Foreign Affairs officials—including David Mulroney, the Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for Afghanistan, who was also Prime Minister Harper’s Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor—had censored and blocked the distribution of dispatches from Kabul; and he exposed the fact that the government had made very determined attempts to intimidate him and prevent him from giving testimony. Finally, Colvin excoriated policies under which, “disregard[ing] our core principles and values,” Canadians “retained and handed over for severe torture a lot of innocent people,” which is “a very serious violation of international and Canadian law,” and which also “alienated us from the population and strengthened the insurgency.”30


3. Running With the Big Dogs

“Complicity in torture,” Colvin reminded the parliamentarians, “is a war crime.” By the summer of 2010, despite a disgraceful smear campaign against Colvin led by Defence Minister Peter MacKay (which prompted a public letter of rebuke signed by “more than 100 former diplomats, many of them ambassadors”),31 despite Stephen Harper’s shutting down of the MPCC by refusing to appoint a replacement when its chair’s term of office expired, and his proroguing of the House of Commons in order to close down the parliamentary committee which had heard Colvin’s evidence (this prompted a public letter signed by more than 175 professors of political science denouncing Harper for having “violated the trust of Parliament and of the Canadian people”),32 and despite Harper’s defiance of Parliament’s call to have all of the relevant documents released, the full extent and depth of that complicity was evident.

Highly segmented state structures may often seem to operate in an almost chaotic manner. But at times—even when the governing party is doing its best to obscure and deny access to the evidence—a clear constellation of intentionality emerges from the murk. With help from the late Jack Hooper, who was CSIS Assistant Director of Operations from 2002 to 2005, and Deputy Director of Operations until his retirement in 2007, we can give this pattern a name. Known for being pithy and outspoken, Hooper liked to tell his colleagues that “If you’re going to run with the big dogs, you’d better learn to piss in the high grass.”33

CSIS, we now know, was involved in interrogating Afghan prisoners from early 2002 until December 2007; and journalists Jim Bronskill and Murray Brewster learned from an unnamed source or sources that one of the Kandahar interrogation sites used by CSIS, “work[ing] alongside the American CIA and in close co-operation with Canada’s secretive, elite JTF-2 commandos,” was a “secluded base”—this seems a polite way of saying ‘black site’ or ‘secret torture facility’—“known as Graceland.”34

Running with the big dogs apparently meant complicity in the work of Afghan as well as American torturers. Asadullah Khalid, the governor of Kandahar province, who was widely accused of corruption, drug-trafficking, and direct personal involvement in torture, seems to have retained his position after 2006 only thanks to the interventions of senior Canadian military officials.35 General Rick Hillier, the Chief of the Defence Staff who famously defined the Taliban as “scumbags and murderers” whom it was the Canadian army’s job to kill, praised Khalid’s work in early 2008 as “phenomenal” and associated it with “some incredible changes in the province,” adding that “if there’s an issue of any kind of impropriety whatsoever, that’s an issue for the Afghanistan government.”36 It is of course an issue for the Canadian government as well. Scott Taylor, a journalist with wide experience in Afghanistan, has endorsed Hillier’s view of the Taliban, but with an important corrective: “What he failed to mention is that the guys we’re propping up are also scumbags and murderers.”37

Richard Colvin’s November 2009 testimony to the Parliamentary Special Committee revealed another aspect of Canada’s collaboration in Afghan torture—a “very peculiar” process, he called it, in which the notification of detainee transfers went from the Canadian military police in Kandahar to the Canadian Forces command group at Kandahar airport, then to the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) in Ottawa, who informed the Canadian Embassy in Geneva, who contacted Red Cross headquarters in Geneva, who at last notified the Red Cross mission in Kandahar. While the Dutch and British, who also had troops in southern Afghanistan, notified the Red Cross office in Kandahar directly about prisoner transfers, so that within a day at most the Red Cross could monitor their treatment, this Canadian paper-chase could take weeks or even months—during which time the transferred prisoner became effectively invisible.

What might seem an idiotic instance of bureaucracy-run-wild was actually part of a more serious wildness, a policy of deliberate obstructionism. For as Colvin also testified, “When the Red Cross wanted to engage on detainee issues, for three months the Canadian Forces in Kandahar wouldn’t even take their phone calls. The same thing happened to the NATO ISAF command in Kabul, who had responsibilities to report detainee numbers to Brussels, but were told, ‘We know what you want, but we won’t tell you’.”38 Senior Canadian officers have indicated the value they placed on ‘intelligence’ received in regular meetings with leaders of Afghan’s notorious National Directorate of Security.39 And in a May 2007 interview with the Ottawa Citizen’s David Pugliese, one of them was quite explicit about the role the Canadian military and NATO were assigning to the NDS in the counter-insurgency war:

Canadian Brig.-Gen. Jim Ferron says he is confident that Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security or NDS is following proper procedures when it interrogates insurgent detainees.

The general also pointed out that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is interested in further developing its relationship with the NDS because it is a key Afghan government agency and the intelligence it is providing is highly credible in the battle against insurgents.

“We’d like to make (NDS intelligence) a significant part because the best information is the information that comes from the Afghans themselves,” said Brig.-Gen. Ferron, ISAF’s chief intelligence officer. “They have the cultural nuances that we may miss. So I think it’s safe to say we would like to make it more a part of our daily intelligence.”

[…] “[I]nterrogating […] is not a bad word if it’s done properly and professionally,” he explained. “The detainees are detained for a reason. They have information we need.”

Brig.-Gen. Ferron said much of the information a detainee provides is not truthful and is aimed at deceiving military forces. That’s why it is up to intelligence analysts to sift through what is truth and what is deception. “But if we don’t have the information we can’t even start on that process,” he added.40

Ferron’s words make clear the Canadian military’s dependence on NDS ‘intelligence,’ and the determination of senior officers to ignore, obfuscate, and dismiss the by-this-time massive evidence of NDS torture practices. In mid-May 2007, someone of Ferron’s rank and position could hardly have been ignorant of the urgent messages about detainee torture that Richard Colvin had been sending from Kandahar and from the embassy in Kabul between May and December 2006—or of the fact that, as Colvin writes, embassy officials had supplemented their written reports by “interven[ing] directly with policy-makers”:

For example, in early March 2007, I informed an interagency meeting of some 12 to 15 officials in Ottawa that, ‘The NDS tortures people, that’s what they do, and if we don’t want our detainees tortured, we shouldn’t give them to the NDS.’ [….] The response from the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) note-taker was to stop writing and put down her pen.41

As this eloquent gesture suggests, even junior officers in CEFCOM understood that their seniors—the desk-soldiers with aspirations to join the big dogs—wanted to keep other puppies from sniffing out what passes for intelligence-gathering in the tall grass. Indeed, since June 2010 we have known that CEFCOM intervened vigorously in the spring of 2007 to put a stop to Colvin’s circulation of information about the torture of detainees: a CEFCOM memo dated May 7, 2007 declared that “his continued employment in Kabul […] could become a liability to the government of Canada’s interests if left unchecked”; and on two occasions senior officials, including a lieutenant-general and an associate deputy minister, intervened to “caution” him.42

Within days of Colvin’s November 2009 testimony to the effect that Prime Minister Harper’s Defence and Foreign Policy Advisor had censored messages from the Kabul embassy about detainee torture, and Colvin’s exposure of the Canadian military’s obstruction of Red Cross and ISAF attempts to monitor prisoner transfers, a report in the Toronto Star revealed how directly the Prime Minister had involved himself in the issue in 2007. According to a former senior NATO public affairs official, the denials of torture issued by NATO in Kabul—“at a time when it was privately and generally acknowledged in our office that the chances of good treatment at the hands of Afghan security forces were almost zero”—were scripted by Harper and his office in Ottawa:

I was told this was the titanic issue for Prime Minister Harper and that every statement that went out needed to be cleared by him personally […]. The lines were, ‘We have no evidence’ of coercive treatment being used against detainees handed over to the Afghans. [….] [I]t was made clear to us that this was coming from the Prime Minister’s Office, which was running the public affairs aspect of Canadian engagement in Afghanistan with a 6,000-mile screwdriver.43

The pattern that emerges from mainstream news reports is thus one of high-level complicity in torture, combined with attempts—organized from the very top of the Canadian government—to falsify the public record.

According to law professor Amir Attaran, who has seen uncensored versions of the documents that the Harper government has so strenuously resisted sharing with Parliament, the paper trail is thoroughly incriminating. In March 2010 Attiran told CBC News: “If these documents were released [in full], what they will show is that Canada partnered deliberately with the torturers in Afghanistan for the interrogation of detainees […]. There would be a question of rendition and a question of war crimes on the part of certain Canadian officials. That’s what’s in these documents, and that’s why the government is covering up as hard as it can.”44


4. Conclusion

The clear pattern of intentionality revealed in the words and actions of senior Canadian government bureaucrats and senior military officers is both embarrassing (these people actually believe, despite copious evidence to the contrary, that torture produces real ‘intelligence’)45 and also a scandalous offense against the rule of law.

More scandalous still is the evidence that these people were acting on directives from Stephen Harper—that Harper knew perfectly well that the Afghan puppet-state tortures the prisoners handed over to it by the Canadian Forces, but nonetheless permitted the continuation of this system, and that he actually took charge of the program of lying about it.




1  In early 2008 award-winning journalist Robert Windrem showed in an analysis for NBC News that more than one-quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Commission Report, and nearly all of those in the key chapters, are based on torture; see Windrem, “Blogs & Stories: Cheney’s Role Deepens,” The Daily Beast (13 May 2009),; and “The 9/11 Commission & Torture: How Information Gained Through Waterboarding & Harsh Interrogations Form Major Part of 9/11 Commission Report,” Democracy Now! (7 February 2008), See also “September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ‘waterboarded 183 times’,” The Sunday Times (20 April 2009),; and “Complete 911 Timeline: Destruction of CIA Interrogation Tapes,” History Commons,

2  Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism”(Pincourt, Québec: Global Research, 2005), p. 66.

3  John Foster, A Pipeline Through a Troubled Land: Afghanistan, Canada, and the New Great Energy Game (Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, June 19, 2008); see also Shawn McCarthy, “Pipeline opens new front in Afghan war,” The Globe and Mail (19 June 2008),; and McCarthy, “Would help protect pipeline, Canada says,” The Globe and Mail (20 June 2008),

4  Michael Mandel, “This War is Illegal,” CounterPunch (9 October 2001),

5  Graeme MacQueen, founding director of McMaster University’s Institute of Peace Studies, has noted that the anthrax attacks in the US, whose first victim died on October 5 (two days before the assault on Afghanistan began), created the appearance of an ongoing al Qaeda attack—supported by Iraq. Initially identified by the FBI as Iraqi in origin, the anthrax in fact came from a US weapons lab, and the coatings applied to it required high-tech expertise that the scientist later fingered by the FBI as the lone perpetrator did not possess. See MacQueen, “The Connection Between 9/11, Anthrax, and Iraq” (1 May 2010), available at 911,

6  Mandel, “This War is Illegal.”

7  Marjorie Cohn, “Bombing of Afghanistan is Illegal and Must be Stopped,” Jurist (6 November 2001),

8  See “Bush rejects Taliban offer to hand Bin Laden over,” The Guardian (14 October 2001),; and Andrew Buncombe, “Bush rejects Taliban offer to surrender bin Laden,” The Independent (15 October 2001),

9  Michael Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage, and Crimes Against Humanity (London: Pluto Press, 2004); and Marjorie Cohn, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law (Sausalito, CA: Podipoint Press, 2007). See also Francis Boyle, Destroying World Order: U. S Imperialism in the Middle East Before and After September 11th (Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2004); Alex Conte, Security in the 21st Century: The United Nations, Afghanistan, and Iraq (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate, 2005); and Myra Williamson, Terrorism, War and International Law: The Legality of the Use of Force Against Afghanistan in 2001 (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate, 2009).

10  The wording is from a notable UK court decision: Paragraph 15 of Regina (Evans) vs. Secretary of State for Defence, High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Divisional Court, [2010] EWHC 1445 (Admin), 25 June 2010,

11  See Michael Byers, “Afghanistan: Wrong Mission for Canada,” The Tyee (6 October 2006),; the parliamentary stir is discussed by Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang, The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar (Toronto: Viking Canada, 2007).

12  Quoted by Duncan Campbell and Suzanne Goldenberg, “‘They said this is America … if a soldier orders you to take off your clothes, you must obey’,” The Guardian (23 June 2004),; see also David Townsend, “The Passion of Dilawar of Yakubi,” National Catholic Reporter (12 August 2005),

13  According to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the elections were marked by debilitating technical problems, and by widespread intimidation and electoral fraud. For relevant articles, see Press for Conversion 59 (September 2006), available at

14  “Afghan detainee torture risk raised in 2005,” CBC News (10 March 2010),

15  See “Arrangement for the Transfer of Detainees between the Canadian Forces and the Ministry of Defence of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” (18 December 2005),

16  See Richard Colvin, “Affidavit for the Military Police Complaints Commission” (5 October 2009),

17  Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949, Art. 12,

18  See ICRC Annual Report 2009, Annex: States Party to the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, pp. 488-89,, where the accession date given is 10 November 2009; and “Afghanistan accedes to Additional Protocols I and II in historic step to limit wartime suffering,” ICRC Resource Centre (24 June 2009),; this would mean that the Protocols came into force after six months, on 24 December.

19  Lawyers Against the War, “Torture: The Transfers of Afghan Prisoners. Letter to Canada’s House of Commons,” Centre for Research on Globalization (22 December 2009),

20  These are the words of Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, quoted by LAW from his testimony on March 4, 2008 to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

21  Building on Success, The London Conference on Afghanistan: The London Compact (1 February 2006),

22  “Afghanistan,”

23  See “Military probes abuse allegations in Afghanistan,” CBC News (6 February 2007), In this and following paragraph I am indebted to the article “Canadian Afghan detainee issue,” Wikipedia, (consulted on 28 January 2011).

24  Paul Koring, “Amnesty slams Canada over Afghan detainees,” The Globe and Mail (21 February 2007, updated 31 March 2009), On the strength of a government decision in late February 2007 to suspend transfers, effective November 5, 2007, due to allegations of torture, Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish dismissed the application for judicial review. (Thus between the end of February and November 5, 2007 the Canadian Forces appear to have been transferring prisoners into Afghan prisons that the Federal Court had effectively acknowledged to be in systematic violation of the Third Geneva Convention.) Transfers began again on February 29, 2008. (For details, see “Amnesty International and British Columbia Civil Liberties Association v. Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Armed Forces, et al.,” BC Civil Liberties Association,

25  “O’Connor sorry for misinforming House on Afghan detainees,” CBC News (19 March 2007),; see also Paul Koring, “Red Cross contradicts Ottawa on detainees,” The Globe and Mail (8 March 2007, updated 31 March 2009),

26  Graeme Smith, “From Canadian custody into cruel hands. Savage beatings, electrocution, whipping and extreme cold: Detainees detail a litany of abuses by Afghan authorities,” The Globe and Mail (23 April 2007),; also available at

27  “Afghan Prisoner Torture Scandal: War Crimes,” (23 April 2007),

28  Janice Tibbetts, “Tories try to block witnesses at military commission,” Canwest News Service (1 October 2009),; for a fuller account of Harper’s obstruction of the MPCC, see Murray Dobbin, Harper’s Hitlist: Power, Process and the Assault on Democracy, Part 4: “Controlling Critics,” The Council of Canadians (15 April 2010),

29  General Rick Hillier, A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War (Toronto: HarperCollins, 2009); see John Ibbitson, “PMO told about Afghan jail conditions, Hillier writes,” The Globe and Mail (21 October 2009),

30  “Richard Colvin’s Testimony,” 18 November 2009, FAIR, See also Colvin’s follow-up statement, “Further Evidence of Richard Colvin to the Special Committee on Afghanistan, December 16, 2009,” available at, and from the Toronto Star,

31  Murray Dobbin, Harper’s Hitlist: Power, Process and the Assault on Democracy, Part 2: “Two Prorogations in Less Than a Year,” The Council of Canadians (15 April 2011),

32  Ibid.

33  Michelle Shephard, Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr (Toronto: John Wiley, 2008), p. 57.

34  Jim Bronskill and Murray Brewster, “CSIS reviewing role in Afghan detainee interrogations,” Canadian Press, available in The Toronto Star (2 August 2010), See also Murray Brewster and Jim Bronskill, “CSIS played critical role in Afghan prisoner interrogations: documents, sources,” Canadian Press (8 March 2010), available at; and “Le SCRS était au courant de cas de torture,” La Presse Canadienne, available at (21 January 2011),

35  See Stephanie Levitz, Brian Laghi, Campbell Clark and Paul Koring, “Kandahar governor denies torture claim,” The Globe and Mail (2 February 2008),; Kamran Mir Hazar and Robert Maier, “Asadullah Khalid’s Mafia,” (3 May 2009),; and “Afghan governor’s rights abuses known in ’07,” CBC News (12 April 2010), See also “Further Evidence of Richard Colvin to the Special Committee on Afghanistan, December 16, 2009,” pp. 13-14.

36  Quoted by Stephanie Levitz et al., “Kandahar governor denies torture claim.”

37  Quoted by Bea Vongdouangchanh, “‘We’re bringing the ugly truth back to the people’,” The Hill Times (6 December 2010), Taylor is editor of Esprit de Corps magazine, and maker of the documentary Afghanistan: Outside the Wire (2010).

38  “Richard Colvin’s Testimony,” 18 November 2009.

39  See Murray Brewster, “Canadian general defends Afghan intelligence service, denies torture,” Toronto Star (9 September 2010),; Stephen Chase, “Military vows to probe ‘grave’detainee accusations,” The Globe and Mail (14 April 2010, updated 15 April 2010),; Thomas Walkom, “Walkom: Was Afghan torture a deliberate tool for Canada?” Toronto Star (17 April 2010), For evidence of the consistency of this use of Afghan torturers as intelligence-gatherers with an earlier Canadian policy of using Syrian and Egyptian torturers in the same way, see Walkom, “Walkom: Torture by remote control,” Toronto Star (24 February 2010),

40  David Pugliese, “NATO sees importance of secret Afghan info: Intelligence crucial in fight against Taliban,” Ottawa Citizen (16 May 2007), available online at, I am indebted for knowledge of this article to Gareth Porter, “The Torture Mill: Why the US and NATO Fed Detainees to Brutal Afghan Security Service,” Counterpunch (27 April 2011),

41  Colvin, “Further Evidence of Richard Colvin to the Special Committee on Afghanistan,”, p. 2.

42  Steven Chase, “Military wanted detainee whistleblower pulled from Afghanistan,” The Globe and Mail (14 June 2010, updated 5 October 2010),

43  Mitch Potter, “PMO issued instructions on denying abuse in ’07,” The Toronto Star (22 November 2009),

44  “Canada wanted Afghan prisoners tortured: lawyer,” CBC News (5 March 2010),

45  For some of that evidence, see Edward Peters, Torture (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985); Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain (1985; rpt. New York: Oxford University Press); Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture (New York: Metropolitan/Owl Books, 2006); and also Matthew Alexander, “I’m still tortured by what I saw in Iraq: An interrogator speaks,” The Washington Post (30 November 2008),; and Ben Macintyre, “‘24’ is fictional. So is the idea that torture works,” The Sunday Times (23 April 2009),     

The Harper Government and Canada's 'War-on-Terror' Immigration Policy

This essay originated as a conference presentation: “The New Canadian Government and 'War-on-Terror' Immigration Policies,” Indigeneity and Immigration: Greifswald Canadian Studies Conference, Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, Greifswalk, Germany, 16-18 June 2006. A version of it was published under the present title by the Centre for Research on Globalization (12 December 2006), The final text appeared in What is Your Place? Indigeneity and Immigration in Canada, ed. Hartmut Lutz, with Thomas Rafico Ruiz (Beiträge zur Kanadistik, Band 14, Schrisftenreihe der Gesellschaft für Kanada-Studien, Augsburg: Wißner-Verlag, 2007), pp. 169-90.


1. Some key terms

Three terms are at play in the situation I wish to analyze. The first is a new Canadian government whose leader has espoused positions more right-wing than those of any prime minister in living memory—but is for the moment constrained to some degree by his party's minority position in parliament. The second is the unhappy fact that Canada is at war in Asia: as a result of commitments to the Bush regime's 'War on Terror' which the Canadian parliament has never been given the opportunity to vote upon, some 2,300 Canadian troops are currently engaged in offensive operations in southern Afghanistan—where, as the noisily simple-minded General Rick Hillier, the current Chief of the Defense Staff, has declared, their function is not peace-keeping (the primary traditional role of Canada's military) but bringing the lives of “detestable murderers and scumbags” to abrupt and violent ends.1

Who, precisely, is so “detestable” as to deserve such an end? By whom, in whose country, and by what right are such determinations arrived at? These are not questions that trouble General Hillier's sleep, though they might well bother more ethically oriented people, as well as those who believe that in a democracy policy decisions should be made by elected officials rather than by military officers2—not to mention the larger collectivity of Canadian tax-payers, who by mid-2006 had ponied up $1.8 billion to pay for our part of the occupation of Afghanistan.

The third term at play here is immigration policy—which, as I wish to show through consideration of our governing class's current treatment of one immigrant minority, Canada's Muslim community, and also one current aspect of its treatment of that other minority whose members are neither immigrants nor the descendants of immigrants, but aboriginal, appears to have been seriously deformed by a determination to convince the Canadian population of the rightness and necessity of our participation in George W. Bush's “long war.”

What might seem an unexpected conjoining of distinct issues of immigration and indigeneity makes sense, I would argue, both conceptually and ethically. A recognition of their linkage is evident in recurrent expressions of sympathy by native elders for the plight of Algerian and Palestinian refugees further victimized by deportation orders,3 and likewise in the support announced by the Canadian Islamic Congress in May 2006 for the Six Nations land reclamation campaign near Caledonia, Ontario.4 The logic involved is not difficult. From the longue durée perspective of indigenous peoples the rest of us—setter colony Canadians—are all immigrants, and the laws and administrative practices we direct toward Onkwehonweh or First Nations people and toward more recent arrivals make up a single continuum of what one might call 'the policy of immigrants about immigration.'

Such a perspective, to the extent that we can rise to it, may help us avoid the the ethical obliquities of much contemporary discourse on immigration—in which, for example, the descendants of refugees or of illegal immigrants call for the exclusion of refugees and the hunting down and deportation of illegal immigrants, or in which people whose right to the land they occupy may be dubious at best invoke principles of right to exclude both native people and would-be immigrants from any share of it.5


2. Multiculturalism and the politics of immigration

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's proclamation of multiculturalism as official government policy in 1971 inaugurated a period in which immigrant communities in Canada have tended more often than not to give a preponderance of their votes to candidates of the federal Liberal Party. There may be some irony to this, since the policy was not fully enshrined in law until the passage of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act by Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government in 1988. But immigrant communities have not wholly forgotten that the Trudeau Liberals who inaugurated multiculturalism were likewise responsible for a shift in immigration policies leading to the abandonment of previous openly racist admission criteria (and their replacement, one might add, by criteria of social class).6 The persistence of this memory has no doubt been assisted by the enduring presence of racist anti-immigration sentiment in the parties of the right—most distinctly within the Reform Party, which many Canadians suspect underwent no more than cosmetic changes when it absorbed the struggling remnants of Mulroney's old party to form the new (no longer 'progressive' even in name) Conservative Party.

How has current Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper sought to maneuver within a situation in which the votes of immigrant communities, both European and non-European, are recognized as a determining factor in many urban ridings across the country, and hence potentially decisive in his pursuit of a parliamentary majority in the next election?

He has, in brief, tried to distance himself from his party's (and his own) sometimes openly disgraceful past record on immigration issues, to take advantage of the failure of Paul Martin's Liberal government to abolish an unintelligent and widely resented “Right-of-Landing Fee” on new immigrants, and to make use of potentially divisive issues like gay marriage as a means of appealing to 'social conservative' elements within immigrant communities. He has at the same time played to exclusionary and racist tendencies within his most reliable block of supporters (former Reform Party members and residents of predominantly white rural communities) by cancelling the previous government's commitment to a large-scale infrastructure program for native communities, and by treating refugee claimants and illegal immigrants with the utmost severity. (The latter tactic carries the risk of backfiring in such vigorously multicultural cities as Toronto and Vancouver—but only, Conservative strategists hope, in ridings where the Tories already run too distant a third to the New Democratic Party and the Liberals for it to make any difference to their electoral fortunes.)

Two currently ongoing events permit us to define more closely the orientation of this government in relation to immigration issues—and perhaps more generally as well. One is the occupation since February 2006 of contested land at Caledonia, near Hamilton, Ontario, by people of the Six Nations Haudenosaunee (a situation that may help to remind Canadians that a nation which developed out of colonial settler colonies has large unpaid ethical and material obligations to the indigenous peoples whose lands we have not ceased to appropriate and whose cultures we continue to violate). The other is the arrest on June 2, 2006 in Toronto of eighteen Canadian Muslim men and youths on charges of plotting terrorist atrocities. Both, as it happens, are plausibly connected to Canada's participation in the Bush regime's fraudulent and spurious 'War on Terror.'

Analysis of these unfolding events in relation to the faultlines evident in Stephen Harper's positions on immigration will suggest, I think, that a government more deeply subservient to the dictates of American geopolitics than were the Liberals of Jean Chrétien or Paul Martin is finding it convenient to exacerbate intercommunal hostilities involving both Onkwehonweh or First Nations people and Canadian Muslims. But before proceeding to this analysis, I should explain my reasons for applying what may have seemed disconcertingly strong adjectives to George W. Bush's 'War on Terror.'


3. Faking the 'War on Terror'

The 'War on Terror' is spurious because there is strong evidence that the events to which it is purportedly a response—the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001—were orchestrated not by Osama bin Laden (whose partisans or minions served, however, as useful patsies), but rather by high-placed elements within the United States government. There are several converging lines of evidence: taken separately, they cry out for investigation; taken together, they appear seriously incriminating.7

There have been substantial developments during the past year in the assessment of material, photographic and testimonial evidence relating to the collapses of the three towers of the World Trade Center (the 47-storey WTC 7 as well as the 110-storey Twin Towers). These include scientifically informed analyses which demonstrate the physical impossibility of the official account of the Twin Towers' collapse,8 analyses of statements by fire department personnel and by survivors that there were numerous secondary explosions in the buildings in the interval between the airplane crashes and the collapses,9 video and photographic evidence that structural steel in the South Tower was being cut and melted by thermate charges during the final minutes before the tower's collapse,10 videos and photographs of the collapses of the towers in which “squibs” (explosive horizontal ejections of dust and debris) are visible well below the lines of collapse,11 and laboratory analyses of structural steel from the towers which point to its having been cut by thermate charges.12

Controlled demolition of course implies foreknowledge of the attacks as well as a complex pattern of organization—some aspects of which were made visible by Michael Ruppert, whose book Crossing the Rubicon revealed that the US air defence system was effectively disabled on 9/11 by a network of air-defence and anti-terrorism exercises that transferred most of the available interceptor aircraft out of the northeastern US to Alaska and Alberta, and for a crucial period that morning left the military air traffic controllers responsible for deploying the remaining jet fighters unable to determine which of the many apparently hijacked aircraft appearing on their radar screens were real, and which blips were merely part of a response-to-multiple-hijackings exercise.13 The likelihood that al Qaeda operatives could have organized the demolitions in the World Trade Center complex (whose security was contracted to Securacom, a company with close Bush family connections),14 as well as somehow coordinating airliner hijackings with what amounted to a planned disabling of the air defence system, is close to nil.

Add to this the destruction of material evidence at the WTC site, the extreme reluctance of the Bush administration to permit any inquiry into the events of 9/11, and the well-established fact—mendaciously denied by senior members of the administration—that foreign intelligence services, having evidently penetrated different parts of the 9/11 planning, gave them detailed advance warnings, and a pattern emerges that cries out for criminal investigation. Searching analyses of these issues, as well as of many features of the attacks, the ensuing cover-up, and the underlying geopolitics, have been published by Michel Chossudovsky and other researchers,15 and the theologian and ethicist David Ray Griffin has produced magisterial summations of the evidence pointing to the Bush administration's implication in the events of 9/11.16

The 'War on Terror' is fraudulent, then, because its purported and actual goals are systematically at variance. Only in the most nakedly Orwellian sense can one claim that a project which began with apparent false-flag terrorist attacks that killed some three thousand people on American soil, and has since involved wars of aggression that have killed and maimed well over 25,000 American soldiers—not to mention killing scores of thousands of Afghans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and exposing millions of their fellow citizens to the murderous and ineradicable toxicity of depleted uranium—is in any sense concerned with enhancing the security of Americans, or of anyone else. The pretexts used to legitimize the invasion of Iraq have without exception been exposed as lies and disinformation17—an embarrassing fact that has not prevented the Bush administration, with the supine or active collaboration of the corporate media, and, to their shame, the diplomatic support of western countries including Britain, France, Germany and Canada, from constructing a parallel set of lies and deceptions to legitimize an apparently imminent attack upon Iran.18

It is less widely appreciated that the invasion of Afghanistan was likewise carried out under false pretexts. Planned and threatened months before 9/11, this act of aggression was carried out for geopolitical reasons enunciated more than a year earlier by the Project for a New American Century, a pressure group whose key members have all held high office in the Bush administration.19 It should be of some interest to Canadians to know that in September 2001 the United States rejected offers of the Afghani Taliban regime to deliver Osama bin Laden to Pakistan for trial there;20 to know that opium production, which the Taliban had nearly eliminated in the provinces it controlled, bounced back to a new high once the US-backed warlords of the Northern Alliance came to power;21 and to learn that the appalling oppression of Afghan women by reactionary theocrats that the Bush regime adopted as an ex post facto reason for its invasion appears not to have significantly diminished under the Karzai regime.22 Canadians might also be intrigued to discover that in June 2006 a journalist who wondered about the absence of any mention of 9/11 on Bin Laden's FBI Most Wanted listing was informed by Rex Tomb, the FBI's Chief of Investigative Publicity, that the reason for this absence “is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”23 This looks rather like an acknowledgment that the so-called “Bin Laden confession video” released by the US in December 2001, and widely represented as justifying the attack on Afghanistan, is in fact not authentic.24

The 'War on Terror' is also fraudulent because while purporting, as Bush himself has declared, to confer upon others what Americans “wish for ourselves—safety from violence, the rewards of liberty, and the hope for a better life,”25 his administration has in fact sought through false-flag terrorism and shameless propaganda and disinformation to frighten Americans into supporting a resource-war geopolitics of unconstrained aggression. Concomitants of this endless warfare include the devolution of what is now called the “homeland” in the direction of a one-party state,26 a deliberate voiding of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, and a parallel extinction of international human rights law whose visible embodiment is an archipelago of prisons and torture houses extending from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Graib and Bagram.27


4. Harper on Immigration

This, I would contend, is the unhappy context within which we must consider contemporary Canadian discourses on the subject of immigration. Let's begin by considering the views of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the matter. Harper counts among his formative influences the writings of the American right-wing intellectual Peter Brimelow, whose books include Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster (1995).28 As recently as 2001 Harper gave voice to opinions that seem recognizably connected to Brimelow's alarmist vision of a country losing its cultural (read racial) identity in a swamp of ethnic otherness: on January 26th of that year, Harper declared in an interview with Kevin Michael Grace that

West of Winnipeg, the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent immigrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettos, and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.29

Interviewed a year later by the same congenially right-wing journalist, Harper sought to re-state his views in more acceptable terms. Declaring himself “pro-immigration on principle,” he attacked the refugee screening process as “a boondoggle” that “threatens national security” as well as “the integrity of the immigration system”:

I've been saying for years that the most important thing is that the country make its own immigration selection and that this policy be consistent with Canadians' views. A refugee determination system that has effectively created a backdoor immigration system that bypasses legal channels in unacceptable. And we need to tighten that system. But [...] I don't want it said that I'm anti-immigration. I'm very supportive of [a] significant [level of] immigration and always have been. 30

This is interestingly coded language. A proportion of the people recently admitted to Canada under existing refugee determination processes have been, among francophones, Algerians, Moroccans and Haitians; and among the larger anglo- or allophone group, Central Americans, Palestinians, South Asians (especially Sri Lankan Tamils) and Africans (among them a substantial number of Somalis). The notion, post-9/11, that such people might threaten “national security” would seem to be a coded allusion to the fact that many of them are Muslims. Those Canadians with whose views Harper thinks refugee policy should be made consistent are presumably people of European origin, of narrowly Christian or Jewish faith, and of racist predisposition: the fact that growing numbers of Canadians are none of the above (and might in addition vote for parties of the centre-left) evidently dismays him.

A similar coding was apparent in an interim policy document released by Harper's Conservative Party in 2004, which as a journalist from Now Magazine commented, “refers darkly to focusing on attracting immigrants who can best integrate into the 'Canadian fabric' (read mostly white, mostly Europeans).”31 But at the same time, the Conservatives were seeking to attract the votes of recent immigrants, declaring on the party's website that “The Conservative Party will fight for immigrants. We will work to ensure earlier recognition of foreign credentials and prior work experience.”32

During the Winter 2006 election campaign Harper reached out to immigrant communities by pledging to immediately cut the $975 Right-of-Landing Fee by half, and then to further reduce it “as the fiscal situation allows,” and by claiming that the social values of immigrants are also those of his party: “Hard working New Canadians bring to Canada a strong work ethic, a commitment to family life, an appreciation of higher education, and a respect for law and order.... These are Canadian values, these are Conservative values, and these are values that we will bring to a new Conservative government.”33 Harper also sought to gain traction from long-standing complaints that foreign professional qualifications are only grudgingly accepted in Canada by proposing the creation of a new federal agency to facilitate the process—a proposal that some commentators found disingenuous, since it stood in evident contradiction to his otherwise sweeping support for increasing the provinces' autonomy in their areas of jurisdiction.34

Once in power, Harper began, as he had promised, to deport illegal workers. Among them, most notoriously, were Portuguese tradesmen doing skilled labour in the Toronto construction industry, some of whom had been in Canada for more than a decade and had school-aged children—people, one might say, with a commitment to precisely those work-ethic and heterosexual-family values Harper had extolled during the election campaign. A commentator at the website remarked in early April 2006 on the political stupidity of the deportations:

Harper could have turned the presence of these illegal workers into a political coup that eroded the Liberal hold over the immigrant vote. It was Liberal [immigration] policy that so drastically favoured rich over poor [...]. Saying that policy was so flawed that a general amnesty for illegal workers was needed as long as they came forward and registered would have done a lot to increase the Conservative vote in the immigrant community.35

But the Harper government has consistently refused to implement an amnesty for illegal workers,36 and two further incidents in April 2006 showed that it was prepared to defy normal civilities in its pursuit of illegal immigrants. On April 27, a brother and sister were forcibly removed from Dante Alighieri Academy in Toronto by immigration officials and taken out to the sidewalk where, as an angry school official remarked, “there was a van waiting with their parent—their mother waiting to be deported.” On the following day, two girls, aged seven and fourteen, were removed from St. Jude School in Toronto by officials who then telephoned their mother, an illegal immigrant from Costa Rica, “and threatened to take them away if she did not turn up within half an hour.” Toronto School Board trustees and Toronto-area members of Parliament responded with outrage to these police-state tactics. Faced with Liberal MP Andrew Telegdi's reasonable demand that he “instruct his officials that schools are for learning and are off limits for the purpose of immigration enforcement,” Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day replied obliquely that the matter would be reviewed, adding that “This is not a normal process or procedure nor do we want to see it become that.”37

Day's choice of adjective is telling, given that normal considerations of political advantage seem not to be at play in these events. It would appear that a different kind of political calculus is being applied, one in which intercommunal tensions are being deliberately aroused in the hope of political gain. But only if we have not been sufficiently attending to the treatment of Canada's Muslim immigrant communities—and to the treatment of Canada's non-immigrant communities, its First Nations peoples—will such developments strike us as wholly new.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it was widely reported in the American press—incorrectly, as it happens—that members of Mohammed Atta's supposed team of hijackers had entered the US through Canada. Faced with American calls for the tightening of border crossings (which could obviously hurt our export economy), the government of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien passed anti-terrorism legislation,38 deported numbers of Algerian and Palestinian refugees,39 stepped up the practice of locking suspected Islamist activists away on so-called “security certificates,” which entitle the state to hold suspects indefinitely without trial,40 and collaborated in the arrests, “rendition” to foreign prisons, and torture of Canadian citizens who had aroused the suspicions of the gum-shoed incompetents of the RCMP and of CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (principally, it seems, by being Muslims).

In the most notorious such case, Ottawa engineer Maher Arar was arrested in New York in September 2002 while returning to Canada from a family holiday in Tunisia, and was flown by the CIA to Syria, where he was tortured and held in solitary confinement for ten months. The false information that led to his arrest was provided to the FBI by the RCMP, which had put Arar and his wife Dr. Monia Mazigh on an al Qaeda watch-list, and which continued to slander him even after his release.41

A further regressive move was the implementation, on December 29, 2004, of the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement, according to which the two countries recognize each other as safe third countries for refugee claimants and oblige refugees to seek protection in the first of the two countries they enter. As a result, Canada now turns away one-third of the refugee claimants who arrive at our borders, throwing large numbers of them upon the mercies of a US asylum system many aspects of which, as a report published by the Harvard Law School remarks, “violate international legal standards.”42


5. “Home-grown terrorists”

On June 2, 2006 the arrests of eighteen Muslim men and youths in Toronto on terrorism charges made headlines around the world. And yet any careful reader of the news stories which followed these arrests could not help but be struck by a number of anomalies. The case was represented as a major triumph of police and intelligence work, and the dangers involved were underlined by massive paramilitary theatrics at the arraignment hearings, including grim-faced snipers-on-rooftops, and helicopters thumping overhead. But how were we to interpret these theatrics? Did Canadian intelligence agencies really anticipate that squads of heavily armed terrorists might descend on the Brampton courthouse in a desperate Robin-Hood style attempt to free their captured comrades? Or would it be cynical to think that the state was trying to panic the Canadian media and the public at large with this graphic demonstration of how terrified we should all be—if not of the handcuffed prisoners, then certainly of their shadowy accomplices. The logic is clear: if the brave and clever men who dress like ninjas, carry big automatic weapons and work in intelligence are worried, then the rest of us ought to be gob-smacked with fear.

This message appears to have got through quite widely—not least to an American versifier on the Buzzflash website who proposed ironically that his compatriots should stop worrying about building a fence along their southern border to stop Mexican immigration, given what seemed more urgent problems to the north:

Putting up a Mexican fence
May not be the best defense. 
Let's build one nearToronto
And get it finished pronto.43

No-one, presumably, had told him about the existence of Lake Ontario.

Snipers and helicopters notwithstanding, there turned out to be a bizarre disjunction between the material resources the arrested group (if it was a group) possessed, and what the Toronto police claimed were their goals: blowing up the Houses of Parliament, the CN Tower, the headquarters of CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and the CBC, and beheading Stephen Harper. For the arsenals of weaponry revealed by the arresting officers were distinctly unimpressive. In addition to five pairs of boots, they consisted of “six flashlights, one walkie-talkie, one voltmeter, eight D-cell batteries, a cell phone, a circuit board, a computer hard drive, one barbecue grill, a set of barbecue tongs, a wooden door with 21 bullet marks and a 9 mm hand gun.”44

Oh yes—and centrally displayed, a bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, as evidence that the group had intended to emulate Timothy McVeigh's feat of destroying the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City with an ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) truck bomb.45 Not that any of the accused had actually been in possession of that or any other bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer—much less fuel oil, or an appropriately configured truck in which to mix the two, or a detonating device—in the absence of which ammonium nitrate makes plants grow, but won't blow anything up, not even the headquarters of CSIS. Yet one or possibly more of the accused had been lured by a police agent into making a purchase order of a large quantity of ammonium nitrate, and had accepted delivery of some quantity of a harmless substitute chemical, at which point the police swooped.

Most media outlets found nothing worthy of comment either in the entrapment of the accused or in the extreme sketchiness of the accused terrorists' equipment. But the motif of decapitation, which was headlined in most accounts of the arrests,46 ought to have prompted a pause for critical reflection. This motif evokes the most lurid misdeed of the arch-terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi—who for several years (until, that is, a narrative of his extinction seemed more useful than stories of how he ran the Iraqi resistance more or less single-handedly on behalf of al Qaeda) was represented by the Pentagon's fabulists as a demonic Scarlet Pimpernel: that “demmed elusive” one-legged Jordanian was here, there, and everywhere.47

In the spring of 2004, a fortnight after revelations about the torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Graib were headlined throughout the American media, Zarqawi very conveniently videotaped himself beheading an American captive, Nicholas Berg. It would be an understatement to call this videotape problematic. Berg, who had been arrested by American forces, was acknowledged as having been in their custody shortly before his death; in the videotape he is wearing American orange prison overalls, while a plastic chair in the background closely resembles chairs that appear in Abu Graib torture photographs. Cries of anguish were dubbed onto the tape, but Berg was clearly already dead when he was beheaded. Zarqawi, his executioner, whom the CIA described as having an artificial leg, is vigorously bipedal, and speaks Arabic without his known Jordanian accent. In brief, the video appears to be a black-operations product, and Berg a victim of the same people who ordered the Abu Graib atrocities.

The reason for the Zarqawi video's manufacture seems obvious. It abruptly reversed the valences of news about torture and executions, making an American the hapless victim and a brutal terrorist the perpetrator. And it allowed media pundits to argue that whatever the lapses of a few 'bad apples' on their side, their adversaries were wholly barbaric. Meanwhile, damning evidence of the responsibility of Bush, Rumsfeld and other senior officials for systematic torture in the American gulag could be flushed down the memory hole.

In the case of the Toronto 18, the beheading motif strengthened associations with al Qaeda by linking the accused with Zarqawi—even though, behind the headlines, it appeared that beheading Stephen Harper was not a crime any of them had actually proposed to carry out, but rather something an imaginative police officer had speculated in a synopsis of accusations one of them would be likely to want to do.48

The outlines of an interpretive framework—or framing narrative, if you like—were thus in place. Like McVeigh, whose method and object of attacks they are accused of wanting to imitate, the Toronto 18 are constructed for us as 'home-grown terrorists'; but the association with Zarqawi's most sensational supposed crime makes them at the same time barbaric outsiders, with spiritual loyalties to the Islamist terrorist international for which his name is a metonymy. The links to both key aspects of this framework, we can observe, are provided by the police: the first through entrapment, and the second through mere supposition.

Only some time after the arrests did the elaborateness of the entrapment scheme become apparent. Early reports made much of an alleged “training camp” session the group conducted in Washago, Ontario in December 2005—one of the leaders of which, Mubin Shaikh, turned out to have been a CSIS mole, who has received $77,000 for his services and claims to be owed a further $300,000.49 Shaikh seems to have taken some care to establish his 'cover' role, agitating so noisily for the acceptance of sharia courts in Canada that fellow Muslims urged him to desist. Yet as multicultural chair of Liberal MP Alan Tonks' York South-Weston riding association, he let the mask slip: according to the association's website, this “Traveller, philosopher, theologian ... is not your ordinary Torontonian. At first look, one might think they've encountered an extremist but on second take, you realize you've been had!”50 It would appear that whatever technical expertise the Toronto 18 possessed was also provided by the government: a second mole, an agricultural engineer, “provided evidence to authorities that the conspirators had material they thought could be used to make bombs.”51

Most journalists who covered the story found nothing out of the ordinary in the fact that after their arrests the men and youths were subjected to sleep deprivation torture—confined in brightly illuminated isolation cells and woken every half-hour—by authorities obviously desperate for evidence.52 Nor were they able to remember that three years previously another large group of Toronto Muslims had been arrested on suspicion of plotting similarly lurid acts of terrorism—which had turned out to be no more than products of the active imaginations of RCMP and CSIS agents, Toronto police detectives, and Immigration Canada officials. In that case, an investigation called Project Thread (and re-named “Project Threadbare” by skeptics) led to twenty-four men being arrested as members of an al Qaeda sleeper cell with plans to destroy the CN Tower, blow up the Pickering nuclear power plant, and set off a radioactive dirty bomb. The allegations were eventually dropped, and no charges were laid. And yet the men were held in maximum security detention for months, no statements of exoneration were issued, and seventeen of them were deported, in a manner marked by flagrant illegalities, to countries where the mere suspicion of terrorist affiliations could have very dangerous consequences.53

There may be good reason to suspect that the Toronto 18 are “terrorists” in much the same sense as were the father and son in Lodi, California who, after being set up by a lavishly paid agent provocateur, were talked by FBI interrogators into confessing they had attended an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan (or perhaps Afghanistan or Kashmir) which they located variously on a mountaintop and in an underground chamber where a thousand jihadis from around the world practised pole-vaulting.54 Or perhaps they could be compared to the infamous “Miami Seven,” members of an oddly unsecretive “Sons of David” cult who are accused of having conspired with al Qaeda to conduct terror attacks “even bigger than September 11” against targets like Chicago's Sears Tower: the men, who had no visible means of carrying out such attacks, actually committed nothing worse than the thought-crime of swearing allegiance to al Qaeda—an oath that was administered by their FBI agent provocateur.55

One begins to note how regularly these much-hyped terror threats dissolve into mist and confusion. The vaunted “UK poison cell” whose members planned to murder thousands of Londoners with ricin turned out not to be a terrorist conspiracy after all.56 The “red mercury plot” ended with another embarrassing but largely unpublicized acquittal: the 'terrorists', as John Lettice writes, “had been accused of an imaginary plot to produce an imaginary radioactive 'dirty' bomb using an imaginary substance.”57 The deployment of two hundred and fifty London policemen to shut down an equally imaginary chemical bomb factory in Forest Gate resulted only in the near-murder of a man who, though otherwise innocent, was indeed both Muslim and bearded.58 No less asinine was the huge international stir in August 2006 over a purported “liquid bomb plot”: most of the alleged plane bombers possessed no passports and only one had an airline ticket, and the bombs that someone in Pakistan had been tortured into saying they planned to make in aircraft toilets are a technical absurdity.59

Even in cases in which large-scale terrorist atrocities have been perpetrated, there are serious doubts about the official accounts of what occurred. The London bombings of July 7, 2005, for example, are said to have been carried out by suicide bombers—a story that is contradicted by the testimony of survivors that the explosions blew the floors of the underground carriages upward from below.60 If the bombs were not carried onto the carriages, but detonated from beneath, then the purported Islamist fanatics said to have been responsible for these appalling crimes cannot have been the actual mass murderers.


6. The Caledonia standoff: sisters of Antigone

The spectre of terrorism so successfully invoked by governments and the corporate media in the English-speaking world is perhaps especially alarming because of the spatiotemporal dislocations it implies. People who typically feel no distinct connection with or responsibility for conflicts in faraway places—even those stirred up or initiated by their own governments—find the more or less tranquil continuity of their lives threatened by the possibility that their familiar civic landscapes could be suddenly transformed into scenes of ruin and carnage. This experiential dislocation, involving a fear that safely distant horrors might unpredictably translate themselves into one's own most intimate space, is compounded by the thought that the appalling transposition would be carries out by people who are our fellow citizens—but also, in secret, deadly enemies. What the venomously de-historicized ideology of the “war on terror” suggests is that religious and ethnic otherness must be, in the special case of Muslims, an ineradicable stain: immigrants of this kind, even if they have appeared, while retaining marks of otherness in their cultural and religious practices, to be moving towards social integration in the host country, are fatally susceptible to reversions into the radical otherness of their distant ancestral homelands—which are understood as places marked, in George W. Bush's memorable inanity, but a perverse inclination to “hate us for our freedoms.”

A precisely inverse pattern of spatiotemporal dislocation is set in motion—no doubt less violently, but with a cumulative force that should not be underestimated—by the conflicts arising out of First Nations land claims. The issues are typically intensely localized—involving, in the case of the Caledonia dispute, little more than three hundred acres of land. But they carry a powerful historical charge, and much wider spatial—and ethical—implications. The persistence of the Six Nations Haudenosaunee in asserting their title to the lands of the so-called Haldimand Tract—the land six miles on either side of the Grand River from its mouth to its source which was formally granted to them in 1784 in recognition of the fact that their alliance with the British during the American War of Independence had cost them their ancestral lands in New York State—serves as a standing rebuke to the fact that over the past two centuries “this territory was steadily whittled away by encroaching white settlers and squatters, and by deliberate land confiscations by federal and provincial governments”—to the point that “the Six Nations reserve near Caledonia now encompasses a mere 5% of the 950,000 acres originally granted to them.”61 There is little doubt about the flagrant illegality of most of the processes through which the Haudenosaunee were divested of their land: a people with whom the Crown had made formal treaties of alliance, and who in the War of 1812 had been instrumental in frustrating the American conquest of Canada, had an alien system of governance imposed on them by force, and were denied recourse to any form of legal redress when they sought to resist this imposition and the dispossession that accompanied and motivated it.

The Six Nations are not seeking to reclaim the land now occupied by the cities of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, Ontario, and many smaller communities, or to expel white Ontarians from their farms and houses in the Grand River watershed. But on February 28, 2006, after the developer Henco began construction of a housing estate on misappropriated farmland adjoining their reserve, they decided to repossess the so-called Douglas Creek estate. The ensuing standoff over this apparently local issue62 brings into focus some of the foundational inequities of Canada's settler-culture legal regime. The problem is again one of an incomplete assimilation—though in this case what it exposes is the enduring hypocrisy and racism of the immigrant culture, as well as the slow violence of a perverted legality that it has inflicted upon its one-time allies.

If the paranoid distorting lens of the “war on terror” projects monstrosity onto an imperfectly assimilated Muslim immigrant minority, the mirror that the Caledonia standoff holds up to the would-be assimilationist immigrant majority shows with pitiless clarity where the actual monstrosity resides. If the Haudenosaunee would only consent to the complete assimilation that the settler culture has attempted to force upon them, ever since it acquired the power to do so—a consent which would mean disappearing, as a collectivity, from history—then this mirror might be removed and the unflattering image it returns to us might be dissipated. (Is this perhaps why Canadian governments have sought to impose on the Onkwehonweh a system of private and individual, rather than collective and national, title to land? The theft of the Haldimand Tract lands is an undoubted wrong to the Six Nations, but what claim for justice and recompense could any individual native person make in response to that wrong?)

The Harper government has seemed willing to let the Caledonia situation drift toward intercommunal violence. Its only visible action on the subject—beyond grudgingly indicating in November 2006 a willingness to talk with the Ontario government about possibly paying some share of the the $40-million cost of policing the standoff—has been to intervene at the United Nations to block the passage of a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.63 In contrast, the Ontario Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty attempted in mid-June to defuse the crisis by purchasing the contested land from the developer and declaring its intention to hold it in trust.64 This, of course, does not amount to a resolution of the matter.

As Six Nations elder Hazel Hill declared in an eloquent message she sent to the local newspapers in Grand River and Caledonia in April 2006, what is at issue is not merely a question of land ownership, or a jurisdictional dispute, but a conflict between two laws, one that has served oppression and another higher law:

It's not about militancy but about believing in who we are as a people, standing together as one, in accordance with the Kaienerekowah for we have been under the thumb of the oppressors for far too long.

It's not about disrespecting the OPP [Ontario Provincial Police] and the laws of Canada, but more importantly about respecting our own law, the only true law in Creation, the Universal Law given to us by the Peacemaker and Gigonsaseh and upholding our responsibilities as individuals in accordance with that law.

It's not about claiming the land, because we know that we hold title to it.

It's not about an occupation, but about asserting our jurisdiction.

We have been accused of inciting a war, and yet who are the ones with the guns, threatening to come in and remove our women and children. To arrest and make criminals out of us. Who are the ones who have helicopters flying overhead, and an abundance of police presence....65

Part of this declaration's power comes from the claim, formulated by Six Nations women elders Katinies and Kahentinetha in relation to another issue involving environmental degradation in the Haldimand Tract, that the Canadian Constitution itself concedes a place for the Six Nations' Kaianereh'ko:wa or Great Law: “According to Section 109 of the British North America Act 1867, indigenous peoples' 'prior interests' supersede that of Canada and its provinces. According to Section 132 Indian title can only be surrendered through a treaty made with the sovereign constitutional people of the nation with a clear question and a clear majority. This never happened.”66

Between these two systems of law there is also a radical disjunction, a différend.67 For as Katinies and Kahentinetha also write, “According to Wampum 44 of our law, the Kaianereh'ko:wa/Great Law, the Women are the 'progenitors of the soil' of the Rotinonhsonnion:we. We are the Caretakers of the land, water and air of Turtle Island. As the trustees, we are obligated to preserve and protect the land's integrity for the future generation.”68 Concepts of this kind are only beginning, very hesitantly, and in a manner not wholly free from hypocrisy, to enter the constitutional discourses of the Canadian confederation.

Yet unexpectedly, perhaps, one discovers within the central traditions brought to this country by the immigrants themselves something very much like the radical disjunction that these women elders identify. The voices of Hazel Hill, and of Katinies and Kahentinetha Horn, are the voice of Antigone, who in Sophocles' great tragedy proclaims to Creon, the ruler of Thebes, that his civic law—his proclamation against the burial of Polynices, the son of Oedipus who had died in leading an assault upon his own city—itself violated another greater law. As Antigone tells Creon, in response to his ruling that Polynice's corpse is to be left for dogs and birds to devour,

It wasn't Zeus, not in the least
who made this proclamation—not to me. 
Nor did that Justice, dwelling with the gods
beneath the earth, ordain such laws for men. 
Nor did I think your edict had such force
that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, 
the great unwritten, unshakable traditions. 
They are alive, not just today or yesterday: 
They live forever, from the first of time....69

Another kind of sister of Antigone can be recognized in Dr. Monia Mazigh, the wife of Maher Arar, whose tenacious campaigning on behalf of her husband was largely responsible for the growing public pressure that led to his release from “the coffin-sized dungeon”70 in which he had effectively been buried alive in a Syrian military prison.

In Sophocles' play Antigone has already given due burial rites to Eteocles, the brother who died defending the city. She then refuses to accept the tyrannical judgment of Creon that her other brother Polynices, who made war upon the city, must be denied human burial and relegated to the category of carrion—which is the category as well of what Giorgio Agamben, borrowing the term from Roman law, has called homo sacer: those who can make no claim upon the law because they are denied recognition as being fully human.71

Creon punishes Antigone's defiant act of giving due rites to the unburied dead by committing a further symmetrical violation of the great law to which she appealed: he condemns her to be entombed alive. Antigone escapes from this condition of living death by committing suicide—an act promptly imitated both by her lover, Creon's son Haemon, and then by Creon's wife Eurydice. One might say that Monia Mazigh redistributed the terms of this myth: defying arbitrary descriptions of her husband and herself as enemies of the state, and rejecting the legitimacy of their relegation to the status of homo sacer, she succeeded, like a more steadfast Orpheus with another Eurydice, in rescuing her husband from the living entombment he had endured for ten months.

What these aboriginal or immigrant sisters of Antigone are telling us is, at the very least, that we have been guided by a radically deficient sense of justice in our applications of law. They are also telling us, I believe, that insofar as our system of law contains elements that contradict the constitutive principles of justice—elements that permit us, for example, to legitimize past acts of land seizure as faits accomplis, or to cast aside civil rights on the grounds of a pretended emergency—then that system must be reformed. The patterns of events out of which their voices have arisen should also alert us to problems having to do with our sovereignty as people who claim to make, and re-shape, our own legal and political regime. For one of the more alarming features of the Arar case was the revelation that the RCMP routinely shares its raw data (suspicions, paid slander, malicious gossip, the lot) with American secret police agencies;72 and one of the more disturbing events during the Caledonia standoff was the capture by Six Nations activists of American Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents carrying out surveillance, with the full collaboration of the OPP, within Canada, and on Six Nations land.73

Judith Butler has suggested that the limit for which Antigone stands is “the trace of an alternate legality that haunts the conscious, public sphere as its scandalous future.”74 What Butler is proposing, Slavoj Zizek writes, is that “Antigone undermines the existing symbolic order not simply from its radical outside, but from a utopian standpoint aiming at its radical rearticulation.” She may be “publicly assuming an uninhabitable position, a position for which there is no place in the public space,” yet she is not doing so “a priori, but only with regard to the way this space is structured now, in historically contingent and specific conditions.”75

Isn't it time we began changing these contingencies?





1  On 29 August 2005, Janet M. Eaton and Janis Alton, Co-Chairs of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, complained to Prime Minister Paul Martin of General Hillier's “swaggering, offensive and militaristic language”: “To refer to the [Afghan] enemy as he did as 'detestable murderers and scumbags' who detest our freedoms, society and liberties and to then ever that the job of the Canadian Forces is 'to be able to kill people' is at odds with our sensibilities and cultural sensitivities as Canadians, with our core public policy values and with our foreign policy tradition.” See “Voice of Women on General Hillier's Abusive Language,” Canadian Action Party (10 September 2005), For an acerbic comment on the new aggressive reorientation of Canada's military presence in Afghanistan, see the editorial “We're from Canada. We're here to kill you,” Canadian Spectator (11 February 2006),'re%20here%20to%20kill%20you.html.

2  A recent Reuters article gives evidence of an apparent transfer of policy-making power from civilian authorities to Hillier and his subordinates in National Defence Headquarters. Canada's commitment of troops to Afghanistan was scheduled to end by early 2007. But after “senior Canadian military officials” declared in March 2006 that “the NATO mission would have to last at least a decade,” Foreign Minister Peter MacKay “conceded the schedule for the return of the troops was now unclear. 'The (military commanders) ... have indicated this is going to be a longer term commitment than was perhaps originally intended as far as the troop deployment,' MacKay said.” See David Ljunggren, “Canada troops could stay longer in Afghanistan,” Reuters (6 March 2006),

3  This sympathy is no doubt linked to acknowledgments by Onkwehonweh or First Nations elders of historical continuities between Western European crusades against Muslim powers and subsequent projects of transatlantic conquest and settlement. See, for example, Leroy Little Bear's remarks in the Ipperwash Public Inquiry: Indigenous Knowledge Forum, pp. 29-30 (14 October 2004),; and Doreen Silversmith, “Message from the Onkwehonweh [Six Nations] to the United Nations,” 1 May 2006; available at Autonomy & Solidarity (5 May 2006),

4  “Islamic Congress Supports Six Nations Land Reclamation,” (19 May 2006), This press release recognized a parallel between a situation “in which aboriginal peoples are systematically being denied their birthright,” and the theft of Palestinians' land “by the Israeli occupying power that denies them justice through unilateral expropriations and by refusing to negotiate in good faith....”

5  I am myself descended on my father's side from refugees: the widow and the elder son of a New Jersey farmer who had died defending Long Island from the army of George Washington. I am not sure by what right George III's colonial administration gave them title in 1790 to Anishinaabe land in what became the town of Thorold in the Niagara peninsula.

6  Despite residual elements of racism in the process, applicants for landed immigrant status under multiculturalism have been assessed primarily on the basis of their ability to make immediate contributions to the Canadian economy. During the 1980s it became possible for wealthy foreigners to purchase citizenship by investing $250,000 or more in a business that would employ Canadians. Class had previously been part of immigration criteria—sometimes in an inverse sense, as when at certain times in the first half of the twentieth century applicants from central and eastern Europe were accepted only if they could show calloused hands that would identify them as manual labourers.

7  The following account of this evidence overlaps at some points with my recent essay “Into the Ring with Counterpunch on 9/11: How Alexander Cockburn, Otherwise So Bright, Blanks Out on 9/11 Evidence,” available at Scholars for 9/11 Truth (4 November 2006),

8  See for example “MIT Engineer [Jeff King] Disputes Theory of the WTC Collapse—Part 1,” Youtube (4 January 2007),; as well as articles by Frank Legge, Gordon Ross, and Kevin Ryan in the first two issues of the Journal of 9/11 Studies (June and August 2006), and Steven E. Jones, “Why Indeed Did the World Trade Center Buildings Completely Collapse?” Journal of 9/11 Studies 3 (September 2006): 1-48,

9  See David Ray Griffin, “Explosive Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in the 9/11 Oral Histories,” 911 (18 January 2006),; and Graeme MacQueen, “118 Witnesses: The Firefighters' Testimony to Explosions in the Twin Towers,” Journal of 9/11 Studies 2 (August 2006): 47-106.

10  See “Shot from street level of South Tower collapsing,” Camera Planet (2 min. 49 sec., posted 24 February 2003),; and also photographs reproduced by Jones in “Why Indeed...?”

11  Squibs are visible in photographs and videos of the collapses reproduced by Dylan Avery, Dir., Loose Change (2006), available at; Dustin Mugford, Dir., September 11 Revisited: Were Explosives Used to Bring Down the Buildings? (2006),; also available at; and In the Wake Productions, 911 Mysteries: Part 1, Demolitions (2006),

12  See J.R. Barnett, R.R. Biederman, and R.D. Sisson, Jr., “An Initial Microstructural Analysis of A36 Steel from WTC Building 7,” Journal of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society 53/12:18 (2001); cited by Jones, “Why Indeed...?” Jones's own laboratory analysis of steel samples from the Twin Towers is forthcoming.

13  Michael C. Ruppert, Crossing the Rubicon (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2004), pp. 308-436. See also Nafeez Mossideq Ahmed, The War on Truth (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2005), pp. 267-91, 304-16.

14  Securacom's CEO from 1999 to January 2002 was Wirt D. Walker III, a cousin of President Bush—whose younger brother Marvin P. Bush was also a principal in the company from 1993 to 2000. See David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor (2nd ed.; Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2004), p. 180.

15  Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalization: The Truth Behind September 11 (Shanty Bay, ON: Global Outlook, 2002); The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order (2nd ed.; Shanty Bay, ON: Global Outlook, 2003); America's “War on Terrorism” (Pincourt, PQ: Global Research, 2005). See also Paul Thompson, The Terror Timeline (New York: HarperCollins, 2004); Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, The War on Truth; Webster G. Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA (2nd ed.; Joshua Tree, CA: Tree of Life Books, 2006); and Paul Zarembka, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 (New York: Elsevier, 2006).

16  Griffin's The New Pearl Harbor is cited in note 14; see also The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2005); and Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11 (Philadelphia: Westminster John Know Press, 2006).

17  See Michel Chossudovsky, America's “War on Terrorism”; Milan Rai, War Plan Iraq (London and New York: Verso, 2002); Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, Behind the War on Terror (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2003); Dilip Hiro, Secrets and Lies (New York: Nation Books, 2004); Naomi Klein et al., No War: America's Real Business in Iraq (London: Gibson Square Books, 2005); William R. Clark, Petrodollar Warfare (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2005).

18  See Seymor M. Hersh, “The Coming Wars: What the Pentagon can now do in secret,” The New Yorker (24-31 January 2005),, and “The Iran Plans: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?” The New Yorker (17 April 2006),; Michael Keefer, “Petrodollars and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Understanding the Planned Attack on Iran,” Centre for Research on Globalization (10 February 2006),; and Jorge Hirsch, “Nuclear Strike on Iran is Still on the Agenda,” (16 October 2006),

19  See Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, Forbidden Truth, trans. Lisa Rounds et al. (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002).

20  Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, “How Bush Was Offered Bin Laden and Blew It: Give Him an 'F' in the War on Terror,” Counterpunch (1 November 2004),

21  See Chossudovsky, America's “War on Terrorism,” pp. 224-36.

22  See “On the Situation of Afghan Women,” Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA),; and Marc Herold, “Afghanistan as an empty space: The perfect Neo-Colonial state of the 21st century, part one,”,

23  Ed Haas, “FBI says, 'No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11,” Muckraker Report (10 June 2006), For the spin machine's wholly inadequate response to this embarrassment, see Dan Eggen, “Bin Laden, Most Wanted for Embassy Bombings?” The Washington Post (28 August 2006),

24  For a judicious analysis of the myth-making surrounding Osama bin Laden, see R.T. Naylor, Satanic Purses: Money, Myth, and Misinformation in the War on Terror (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006).

25  George W. Bush, “Speech at West Point Military Academy,” (1 June 2002),; quoted by Pierre Guerlain, “New Warriors Among American Foreign Policy Theorists,” in Dana D. Nelson, ed., Ambushed: the Costs of Machtpolitik, special issue of The South Atlantic Quarterly 106.1 (Winter 2006), pp. 113-14. The Bush administration's claims to be promoting democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere are demolished by Noam Chomsky in Failed States (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006), pp. 102-65.

26  See Michael Keefer, “The Strange Death of American Democracy: Endgame in Ohio,” Centre for Research on Globalization (24 January 2005),

27  See Timothy Brennan and Keya Ganguly, “Crude Wars,” Nikhil Singh, “The Afterlife of Fascism,” and Thomas L. Dumm, “George Bush and the F-Word,” in Dana D. Nelson, ed., Ambushed: The Costs of Machtpolitik, pp. 19-35, 71-93, and 153-60. Key collections of documents relating to torture include Mark Danner, ed., Torture and Truth: America, Abu Graib, and the War on Terror (New York: New York Review of Books, 2004); and Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel, eds., The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Graib, intro. Anthony Lewis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). See also Onnesha Roychaudhuri, “Tracking the Torture Taxis,” The ColdType Reader 9 (November 2006),

28  Brimelow is himself an immigrant: born and raised in England, he worked as a journalist in Canada during the 1970s and moved to New York in 1980. His combative Afterword to the second edition of Alien Nation (New York: HarperPerennial, 1996) is available at his website (named after Virginia Dare, “the first English child born in the New World”),

29  “The Devil in Stephen Harper,” Now Magazine, vol. 23, No. 40 (3-9 June 2004), Kevin Michael Grace also quotes the statement in a later article, “Canadian Conservative Leader No Immigration 'Extremist.' Too Bad,” (29 May 2004),

30  “Stephen Harper: The Report Interview” [with Kevin Michael Grace], Report (6 January 2002),

31  “The Devil in Stephen Harper.”

32  Quoted by Grace, “Canadian Conservative Leader No Immigration 'Extremist.'”

33  Press release, Conservative Party of Canada, 4 January 2006,

34  See “Reality Check: Harper's Immigration Proposals,” Canadian Press (4 January 2006),

35  'Reverend Blair', “Deep Immigration,” (5 April 2006),

36  See Maria Jimenez, “Ottawa rules out amnesty for 200,000 illegal workers,” The Globe and Mail (27 October 2006); reproduced online by CERIUM (Centre d'Études Internationales de l'Université de Montréal),

37  “T.O sisters used as deportation bait in hiding,” News (2 May 2006),

38  See Kent Roach, September 11: Consequences for Canada (Montréal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003).

39  See Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees,; No One Is Illegal Collective et al., “Bring Mohamed Cherfi Home!” (20 March 2004), available at Solidarity with Mohamed Cherfi,; and “Non-Status Algerians on Trial: Update,” Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (March 2005),

40  Three such prisoners, who have been held since June 2000, August 2001, and October 2001 respectively, began a hunger strike in May 2006; see “Ontario: Secret Trial Detainees on Hunger Strike for Two Full Weeks,” Infoshop News (5 June 2006),

41  See the Hon. Dennis R. O'Connor, Report of the Events Relating to Maher Arar: Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar (Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2006), See also “Documents suggest Canadian involvement in Arar interrogation,” CBC News (22 April 2005),; Jeff Sallot, “How Canada failed citizen Maher Arar,” The Globe and Mail (19 September 2006),; and “Maher Arar: Timeline,” CBC News (19 September 2006),

42  Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights, Bordering on Failure: The U.S.-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement Fifteen Months After Implementation (Harvard Law School Human Rights Program, March 2006), pp. 4, 23,

43  Tony Peyser, “17 Canadian Terror Suspects Arrested,” (5 June 2006),

44  Marjalenna Repo, “Canada: A Galloping Police State?” Centre for Research on Globalization (19 June 2006),

45  The terrorist atrocity for which McVeigh was convicted and executed killed 169 people, 19 of them children. In May 1995 retired Brigadier General Benton K. Partin, a USAF explosives expert, distributed to the members of Congress a report, “Bomb Damage Analysis of Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building,” in which he concluded that it was destroyed not by McVeigh's truck bomb, but principally by “explosives carefully placed at four critical junctures on supporting columns within the building.” There is other evidence that the attack involved state operatives and state foreknowledge: see David Hoffman, The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror (Venice, CA: Feral House, 1998); Partin's report is reprinted at pp. 461-74.

46  See, for example, “Canada man 'planned to behead PM',” BBC News (7 June 2006),

47  For an illuminating analysis of the Zarqawi phenomenon, see Michel Chossudovsky, America's “War on Terrorism”, pp. 171-97; and his articles “Who is behind 'Al Qaeda in Iraq'? Pentagon acknowledges fabricating a 'Zarqawi Legend',” Centre for Research on Globalization (18 April 2006),; and “Who was Abu Musab al Zarqawi?” Centre for Research on Globalization (8 June 2006),

48  See John Chuckman, “Terror in Toronto or Tempest in a Teapot: Canada's Chatroom Jihadis,” Counterpunch (10-11 June 2006),; and Bruce Campion-Smith and Michelle Shephard, “plan to 'behead' PM: Brampton court hears of plot to storm Parliament Hill and take politicians hostage,” Toronto Star (7 June 2006), available at (The website lists parallels to the Toronto 17 entrapment: see “The Toronto 'Terrorist' Arrests: A rundown of related news reports,”

49  Michelle Shephard, “Informer wanted to protect Canada,” Toronto Star (14 July 2006),; and Sonya Fateh, Greg McArthur, and Scott Roberts, “The Making of a Terror Mole,” The Globe and Mail (14 July 2006): A1, available at “The infamous Mubin Shaikh Revealed as Mole in Terrorism Plot,” SAFspace (14 July 2006),

50  Quoted by Shephard, “Informer wanted to protect Canada.”

51  “2nd mole played key role in bomb plot probe,” CBC News (13 October 2006),

52  Repo, “Canada: A Galloping Police State?”

53  See “Project Threadbare: One Year Anniversary of PreDawn Raid,” Autonomy & Solidarity (6 August 2004),

54  Alexander Cockburn, “The War on Terror on the Lodi Front,” Counterpunch (1 May 2006), See also Venna Dubai and Sunaina Maira, “'Witch-hunt' in Lodi, California,” Not in Our Name (23 June 2005),

55  One of the men also took a photograph of the Miami FBI headquarters—using a camera supplied to him by the FBI agent. See Bill Van Auken, “Miami 'terror' arrests—a government provocation,” World Socialist Web Site (24 June 2006),; and Tony Karon, “The Miami Seven: How Serious Was the Threat?” Time (23 June 2006),,8599,1207412,00.html.

56  See George Smith, Ph.D., “UK Terror Trial Finds No Terror,” National Security Notes: (11 April 2005),

57  John Lettice, “Amazing terror weapons: the imaginary suitcase nuke,” The Register (31 July 2006),

58  John Lettice, “Homebrew chemical terror bombs, hype or horror?” The Register (4 June 2006),; and Lettice, “Drowning in data-complexity's threat to terror investigations,” The Register (6 July 2006),

59  Thomas C. Greene, “Mass murder in the skies: Was the plot feasible?” The Register (17 August 2006),; Craig Murray, “The UK Terror Plot: What's Really Going On?” Counterpunch (17 August 2006),; James Petras, “The Liquid Bomb Hoax: The Larger Implications,” Centre for Research on Globalization (25 August 2006),

60  For two separate accounts, see Mark Honigsbaum, “'Someone help me ... Please help me',” audio report linked at Owen Bowcott and Mark Honigsbaum, “Stories of screaming, despair and courage,” The Guardian (9 July 2005),,,1524554,00.html, and also available at; and the testimony of Bruce Lait in “I was in tube bomb carriage—and survived,” Cambridge Evening News (11 July 2005),

61  Tom Keefer, “The Six Nations Land Reclamation: Overview and Context,” Upping the Anti: a journal of theory and action 3 (November 2006): 136.

62  For detailed accounts of the sequence of events, which included an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) assault on April 20 that was humiliatingly repelled, and an ensuing closure of Highway 6 until May 24, see Documents Regarding the Struggle at Six Nations (Toronto: AK Press, July 2006), available at; the Six Nations Caledonia Resource Page, Autonomy & Solidarity, (which contains an important archive of articles, pamphlets, and video interviews); and “Caledonia land dispute,” Wikipedia,

63  See Joseph Quesnel, “Canada tries to buy African states at UN to delay UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights,” First Perspective: National Aboriginal News (17 November 2006),; and Quesnel, “Un delays Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” First Perspective (29 November 2006),

64  “Ontario buys site of disputed Caledonia claim,” CBC News (16 June 2006),

65  “MNN 'Ongwehonwe Women's Manifesto' at Six Nations,” introduced by Kahentinetha Horn, MNN Mohawk Nation News (12 April 2006),

66  “Demand from Women Title Holders of the Rotinohnsonnion:we/Six Nations to Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. of Barrie Ontario to Cease and Desist the Building of a Natural Gas Pipeline Under the Pine River in Homings Mills on the Haldimand Tract,” Mohawk Nation News (15 September 2006),

67  See Jean-François Lyotard, Le différend (Paris: Les Éditions du Minuit, 1983).

68  “Demand from Women Title Holders.”

69  Sophocles, Antigone, lines 4560-57; quoted from Sophocles: The Three Theban Plays, trans. Robert Fagles, intro. By Bernard Knox (1982; rpt. London: Penguin, 1984), p. 82.

70  Doug Struck, “Canadian Was Falsely Accused, Panel Says,” The Washington Post (19 September 2006); available at Information Clearing House,

71  Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).

72  See O'Connor, Report of the Events Relating to Maher Arar, part III, chapter 7, pp. 101-27.

73  For contrasting accounts of this episode, see “U.S. agents swarmed in Caledonia dispute: police,” (11 June 2006),; and Kahentinetha Horn, “What's Wendigo Psychosis?” MNN Mohawk Nation News (9 June 2006); available at First Perspective (11 June 2006),

74  Judith Butler, Antigone's Claim (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), p. 40; quoted by Slavoj Zizek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real (London: Verso, 2002), p. 98.

75  Zizek, p. 99.