Today is the day that we reserve for Remembrance, a day when each of us are expected to take a moment to acknowledge and remember the bravery and devotion to duty of the millions of men and women who fought and often died "for King and Country" in dozens of wars past. It's also a day when we must remember that it's not only soldiers who die in war, but civilians as well. Often it is the case that for every one soldier killed in the line of duty, ten, or even one hundred civilians are killed.
As a society, we tell ourselves that war is a terrible, but sometimes necessary Last Line of Defence against those who would attack our Freedoms. It is therefore with bitter irony that I must point out that today the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Union of Public and General Employees are co-hosting public hearings to examine police activity during the recent G20 Summit in Toronto.
Every Canadian owes it to themselves to read these testimonies. Canadian citizens, rounded up, arrested, and held for upwards of 32hours in squalid cells, or tagged with bogus charges like possession of tools for burglary (door keys). Unarmed, non-violent citizens punched and kicked, by police not wearing name tags or badge numbers. In one holding cell case, a woman apparently asked for a tampon and was told that she "should have thought about it before", after which he threw his sock into her cell.
In a Free country, citizens must be allowed to peacefully assemble, and to criticise the government openly, and they must be able to do this without fear of persecution from the state. What we saw in Toronto was not what Canada should be, but whether we like it or not, it was our Canada. Unless we stand up and fight those responsible for abridging our freedoms that day, claims that our military "defends our freedoms" will become even more hollow than they already are.
Please take a moment to read one of the following:
- The Canadian Civil Liberties Association's explanation on their own site
- Rabble.ca's live blogging coverage
- CCLA's twitter feed (live-tweeted from the event, and copied for archival purposes here)