Did September 11 Change Everything? Struggling to Preserve Canadian Values in the Face of Terrorism

By Roach, Kent W. | McGill Law Journal, August 2002 | Go to article overview

Did September 11 Change Everything? Struggling to Preserve Canadian Values in the Face of Terrorism


Roach, Kent W., McGill Law Journal


The author critically examines the challenges of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 to Canadian law, courts, sovereignty, and democracy. He compares these challenges to Canada's acceptance of nuclear arms in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, an event that caused George Grant in his Lament for a Nation to declare Canadian sovereignty and a distinctive Canadian democracy to be dead. The Anti-terrorism Act is examined in comparison to other expansions of the criminal law in response to tragic crimes, as well as against the increased emphasis in Canada and the United States on crime as a political issue. The author differentiates between respecting non-discrimination as a value in die criminal law and accepting victims' rights as a reason for limiting the rights of the accused. He also examines the dangers of relying on the criminal law to prevent terrorism and evaluates alternative administrative measures, including some contemplated in the proposed Public Safety Act.

The challenges of September 11 for Canadian courts are related to American-style debates over judicial activism. The author argues that the recent decisions of the Supreme Court in Burns and Rafay and Suresh suggest possible judicial reactions to future challenges of anti-terrorism measures. The author also argues that debate after September 11--while maintaining an appropriate degree of openness to dissent--did hot pay sufficient attention to the importance of respecfing international law in the treatment of detainees or anti-discrimination principles with respect to the possible profiling of particular minority groups. The struggle to maintain a distinctive and moderate Canadian approach to anti-terrorism measures can, in the author's view, be assisted by rejecting the idea that September 11 changed everything.

L'auteur pose un regard critique sur les defis qu'ont apportes attaques terroristes du 11 septembre 2001 pour le droit, les cours, la souverainete et la democratie au Canada. Il compare ces defis avec l'acceptation du Canada de l'armement nucleaire lors de la crise des missiles de Cuba en 1962, un evenement qui a pousse Georges Grant dans son Lainent for a Nation a declarer la mort de la souverainete et de la democratie canadienne. Il examine la Loi antiterroriste en la comparant avec d'autres reponses du droit penal a des crimes tragiques ainsi que l'importance accrue qu'ont pris les debats politiques sur le crime au Canada et aux Etats-Unis. L'auteur distingue le respect de la non-discrimination en tant que valeur en droit penal et l'acceptation des droits des victimes en tant que raison pour limiter les droits de l'accuse. De plus, il examine les dangers de se fier sur le droit penal pour prevenir le teirorisme et evalue des mesures administratives alternatives, notamment certaines de celles proposees dans la Loi sur la Securite Publique.

Les defis du 11 septembre pour les cours du Canada sont relies a un debat de type americain sur l'activisme judiciaire. L'auteur soutient que les recentes decisions de la Cour supreme dans Burns et Rafay et Suresh suggerent des reactions judiciaires possibles aux futurs defis des mesures d'anti-terrorisme. Tout en gardant une certaine ouverture a la dissidence, l'auteur soutient egalement que le debat apres le 11 septembre ne s'est pas suffisamment penche sur l'importance de respecter le droit international a l'egard du traitement des detenus ou des principes de non-discrimination quant au portrait de certains groupes minoritaires. La lutte pour maintenir une approche canadienne distincte et modetee vis-a-vis les mesures anti-terroristes peut, selon l'auteur, etse assiste par le rejet de l'idee que le 11 septembre a tout change.

Introduction

I.  The Challenge of Democratic Crime Control
    A. The Criminalization of Motive
    B. The Distinct Challenges of Non-Discrimination and Victims'
       Rights
    C. Democratic Law Reform for a Democratic Criminal Code
    D. … 

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