Nothing new for the APEC
Repression of protest at APEC meetings isn't anything new. Last year in the Philippines,
APEC, or to give it its full title the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, is a grouping of 18 nations whose objective is to create, apparently whether the citizens of those countries like it or not, a
The announcement that the APEC meeting was to be held in Vancouver came, it seems, as a surprise to many at the University of British Columbia. The decision to hold the meeting at the UBC Anthropology Museum was taken without the students, faculty or staff being consulted. The administration at UBC must be extraordinarily naive if they thought that this decision would go uncontested. They must have been completely unconscious if they thought that the intended presence of Suharto and his fellow democrat from China, Jiang Zemin, would not lead to demonstrations of some kind.
Those who thought that Canadians have a right to free speech, and an implied right to protest peacefully, must also have been rather surprised by some of the revelations coming out even before the hearings of the RCMP Public Complaints Commission Hearing into APEC are held. Documents revealing that Suharto was promised that he would
The RCMP used to be relatively free from political control but it was in the Mulroney era that this arm's length relationship changed markedly, and there is little reason to believe that it has reverted or even slowed down. We have since seen a number of incidents where the RCMP have not exactly covered themselves in glory. Gustafsen Lake and Ipperwash come to mind and the revelation in 1995 at the Gustafsen Lake trial where a
The morning after
Out of seventy protesters arrested at the APEC fiasco only one has been charged. His trial was postponed because the Crown failed to make full disclosure and because various motions were made on the protester's behalf alleging abuses of due process, deprivation of liberty and other violations. The charge against him is assault on a UBC Traffic Patrol Officer. He is alleged to have used a megaphone
A student group which has been following all of this suspects that many of the documents relating to the crackdown have been destroyed, many of them in the Prime Minister's Office, and many e-mails have been erased by the RCMP, although some of the latter have now been recovered by means of special recovery software. Claims were made also that the PMO has no documents in its possession and, in an act of brazen arrogance, an official in charge of the APEC planning said that he regularly destroyed all the documents in his possession. Even those documents which have been released appear to have been heavily vetted, even to the extent of blanking out references to portable toilets.
Anyone interested in reading more about the duplicitous hypocrisy of our politicians and their attitudes to the rights of ordinary people should search the web, where there are many sites dealing with this and other matters.
An interesting conjuncture occurred in Parliament when the affair managed to unite momentarily the opposition parties; the sight of the Reform and New Democratic parties talking in similar terms made one almost question one's own hearing. So far, calls for an independent judicial inquiry have been rejected by our Prime Minister with the offhand remark that the RCMP Public Complaints Commission (which of course cannot impose sanctions) has adequate authority to investigate fully. That our Prime Minister has said he would not testify is also troubling. If for no other reason, a judicial inquiry with subpoena powers would seem to be the only way to avoid what may come to be seen as a whitewashing exercise. Upon further reflection though, the Somalia judicial inquiry affair comes to mind and we all remember what happened to that one.
The PCC hearings began this week and a parallel class action suit has been launched against both our pepper loving Prime Minister, Capsicum Chrétien and his sycophantic Minister of Foreign Affairs, allegedly for preventing the exercise of the citizen's right to free speech.
(*) capsicum: a genus of tropical plants or shrubs bearing pungent fruit called peppers.