Long stemmed roses for the sacrifice Mr. Arar has made to fight for justice for the torture he endured in Syria and to secure a desperately needed public accountability for the national security work of rogue acronyms: RCMP, CSIS, DFAIT, CBSA, and TC.
Vancouver Police Department
Three bouquets go to the VPD for posting their policy manual on the VPD website (finally!), revising their breach of the peace policy and scrapping an intrusive video surveillance system proposed for the Downtown Eastside. It’s nice to see improvements at the VPD and we’ll be looking for more in 2006!
Members Of The Citizens’ Assembly
Kudos for their exhaustive recommendations, which were ultimately endorsed by more than 50% of B.C. voters. The provincial government deserves recognition for providing the Assembly with a mandate. We hope Premier Campbell persists with a vision for election reform.
This scrappy little bookstore keeps on showing what it means to defend expressive freedom: taking on the goon squad at Canada Customs for 18 years and counting!
Heartfelt applause for their six-years-and-counting battle to add sexual orientation to the BC Ministry of Education’s list of cross-cultural interests which includes aboriginal studies, gender equity and anti-racism.
Vancouver City Council
For deferring the VPD-proposed expansion of a bylaw requiring surveillance databases of second-hand store customers. Council voted to take the matter to the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner before making a decision.
Solicitor General of British Columbia
A benefit-of-the-doubt-for-now bouquet to the BC Solicitor General for ordering a review of the BC police complaint process headed up by Josiah Wood, Q.C. The full bouquet will depend on whether Mr. Wood’s review team undertakes a thorough and complete report. Also an associated bouquet to the Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police who agreed for the need for an audit: quite extraordinary.
Surrey Drama Teacher for Laramie Project
The Courage Award to the Surrey, B.C. drama teacher who sought to stage the play The Laramie Project which is based on the gay bashing death of Matthew Sheppard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. The teacher defended the importance of the play and his students desire to participate in it. Administrative staff of the Surrey School Board forced the cancellation of the play while they considered whether it was appropriate for audiences. The play has been widely staged in high schools in the United States.
BCCLA volunteers dedicated vast amounts of time, energy, and expertise to the work of the Association in 2005. Their contributions are invaluable.
The Federal Government’s National Security Agenda
Federal ministries, including Public Safety, Justice, and Transport, have been playing hide-the-responsible- minister by juggling among themselves various “national security” projects that threaten to permanently enshrine a culture of mass surveillance – no-fly lists, lawful access, smart border agreement, etc. This is downright chilling.
Ministries of Immigration and Public Safety
For Security Certificates which result in torture Canadian-style to detainees (including the risk of deportation to countries that engage in torture) and secret hearings without due process protections. The deportation of Ernst Zundel as a threat to national security shows how ripe this process is for abuse.
B.C. Solicitor General
The decision to arm the new Skytrain police places the good citizens who use Skytrain at real risk of harm without clear public benefits. Someone’s going to get seriously hurt.
For blocking a public website set up by the union during their strike against Telus. Come on Telus, you know better.
Chief Constable Jamie Graham
The Chief referred Sam Sullivan’s old-news confession of assisting drug users to a possible criminal investigation. “Abetting the possession of cocaine”? Let us condemn politicing as policing.
Samuel Robertson Technical Secondary School, Maple Ridge
For the real life surveillance experiment they created by implementing a Smart Card program for students that allows parents to track their children’s attendance through card scanning that is downloaded on to a database that is available to parents on the Internet. This looks like grooming the next generation for mass surveillance.
Bad karma to the RCMP for their use of Texas Rangers to conduct illegal checkstops, refusal to
investigate in custody deaths in Vanderhoof, Surrey and Houston, B.C. and their Integrated National Security Enforcement Team for their take down of the West Coast Warriors on the Burrard St. bridge as if they were common terrorists. Not to mention their conduct in the Arar case.
B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch
A drunken brickbat for denying a liquor license to the Sex Party for a fundraiser involving public sex performances. Liquor regulators aren’t authorized to regulate morality.
Municipalities with Harshly Intrusive Grow-Op Bylaws
To the growing number of B.C. municipalities who have passed bylaws that require intrusive searches by landlords to look for grow-ops, the award for foul smelling legislation. Enlisting the citizenry to police itself is the hallmark of a totalitarian society, not a free one!