IT IS EASY to read Harper's demand that we not "commit sociology" following the alleged Via terror plot and Boston Marathon bombing as a mark of his personal anti-intellectualism. But it is indicative of so much more. It neatly sums up the logic of the Conservative Party, which has worked to marginalize critical research in order to advance anti-democratic and environmentally destructive policies over the last few years.
Their latest initiative is a new anti-terror bill which will further undermine civil liberties and advance US-style homeland security laws by reviving measures that once saw Maher Arar tortured in a Syrian jail. Adding a little insult to a lot of injury, this bill comes on the heels of revelations in the spring Auditor General's report that the government is unable to account for $3.1 billion of the whopping $12.9 billion spent by the Liberal and Conservative governments on anti-terrorism activities between 2001 and 2009 under the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism (PSAT) Initiative.
Bill S-7 resuscitates the Combating Terrorism Act, passed by Chretien's Liberals amid the post 9/11 hysteria, but not renewed in 2007. The Conservatives' new incarnation allows for "preventative detentions" without charge for up to three days on the suspicion of terrorism, and "investigative hearings," in which someone suspected of having knowledge of a terrorist act can be forced to answer questions. The bill is nothing less than an attempt at normalizing arbitrary and indefinite powers of detention and undermines the most basic legal principles. And as the BC Civil Liberties Association points out: "Bill S-7 also goes beyond the original 2001 legislation by creating new offences under the Criminal Code which are premised on very broad definitions of terrorist activity and what would constitute participation in such activity. …