Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Canada's Chief Justice: Government, Courts Must Respect Civil Liberties in War on Terror

Canada.com reports on comments by the Supreme Court of Canada's Chief Justice, Beverley MacLachlin at an Ottawa event yesterday:

OTTAWA — Canada's most senior judge cautioned Tuesday against going overboard in the fight against terrorism by putting too much emphasis on the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. at the expense of sacrificing civil rights and charter protections.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin's warning that lawmakers, judges and citizens must heed the big picture comes as the federal government's war on terror is taking a beating in the nation's courts.

"The fear and anger that terrorism produces may cause leaders to make war on targets that may or may not be connected with the terrorist incident," McLachlin told the Ottawa Women's Canadian Club in a luncheon speech Tuesday.

"Or perhaps it may lead governments to curtail civil liberties and seek recourse in tactics they might otherwise deplore . . . that may not, in the clearer light of retrospect, be necessary or defensible."

...The challenge in putting civil liberties on equal footing is that terrorist acts themselves breed fear that "there is a terrorist around every corner" who must be caught at all costs, she said.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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