Friday, January 26, 2007

US Ambassador Gets Testy . . . .

This editorial from today's Halifax Daily News is great!

Just who does Mr. Wilkins think he is, anyway?


Last updated at 7:27 AM on 26/01/07

Temper, temper, Mr. Ambassador

United States Ambassador David Wilkins can be charming — as he was when he expressed his country’s gratitude to Canada for the assistance we provided during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He can be firm — as he was when he continually reminded Canadians that a new American law requiring passports to get into the country was not going to be rescinded simply because it wasn’t to our liking.

And he can be infuriating — as he was yesterday, when he chided Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day for pushing the Americans to remove Maher Arar from its no-fly list.

In 2002, Arar — a Canadian citizen originally from Syria — was detained in the United States while changing planes to return to Canada. Based on faulty information from Canada, the Americans believed Arar had ties to al-Qaida, and deported him not to Canada, but to Syria.

After more than a year of torture in Syria, Arar returned to Canada. An inquiry cleared him of involvement with terrorism, and he is no longer considered a security risk here. But the Americans still think he’s a threat.

Day has been vocal in his criticism of that stance. Yesterday, it was Wilkins’s turn to get vocal.

“It’s a little presumptuous of (Day) to say who the United States can and cannot allow into our country,” the ambassador huffed. “Canadian officials would rightly never tolerate any American official dictating to them who they may or may not allow into their country.

Was it not “presumptuous” for the Americans to pack Arar off to Syria, instead of simply sending him back to Canada?

Suppose Canadian authorities seized an American citizen at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Suppose said citizen was not sent back to the United States, but spirited away to another country, one with a dubious human-rights record. Suppose said citizen suffered torture in that country.

This would, rightly, never be tolerated by the Americans.

So why should it be tolerated by us?

Well said, Daily News . . . .

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