Monday, 5 November 2007

Let the Traveler Beware

Mike, Chet and James all come out swinging against the government for no longer seeking clemency for Canadians facing death row in foreign countries. As much as I respect (and usually agree with) the bloggers involved, this time I can't bring myself to agree.

I found myself agreeing more with Ken Breadner on this one. I've always disagreed with the notion that the Government of Canada had to involve itself in each and every case when a Canadian citizen abroad runs afoul of the local authorities. Unlike the Conservatives, I don't limit myself to "democratic nations" that conduct "fair trials".

This is where my sense of personal responsibility kicks in; if you want to travel, you do so under your own recognizance and under your own risk. Your government is not automatically obligated to save your sorry ass if you break the law or piss off the local despot. Not to say the government cannot and must not intervene, it has the option to review each case on its own merits and make its own determination. It just isn't something you can count on. I say this as an ardent nationalist, loyalist and old fashioned patriot.

Maybe I'm blinded by what I see as individual's desire for more from their country then what they put into it. I do feel most people see their nationality as a convenience, without obligations to the country of their citizenship. But when they get into trouble, you hear them cry for evacuation from the war zone, or intercession when in trouble with the authorities.

Nahh. I've always believed you have to respect governmental jurisdiction within its own borders. Regardless of whether you agree with the type or quality of that government. Borders are lines in the granite, not sand, and when you cross them, you do so at your own peril.

I do find it interesting that many are decrying the slippery slope position the Conservatives have taken. Arguing that by taking a relative approach, they can do "whatever they want at any particular moment". I grant them a small point on this one. However, they all take this as concrete certitude that all Canadians whose actions offend the morals of the Conservative party will be left to hang. Two examples do not an argument make (the optics are worrisome, I agree).

It would be nice to know the rules under which the government will go to bat for you. But I do not believe that it is an inalienable right to expect it in all cases. It should be an exception (Mahar Arar for example) not a rule.

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