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76th Annual Summer Conference, August 9–12, 2007

Diversity & Security: Diverse Threats to Security?

AUDREY MACKLIN (bio), Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
SOPHIE BODY-GENDROT (bio), Professor, Université Sorbonne (Presentation)
CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT KATE LINES (bio), Ontario Provincial Police
Moderator: CHRYSTIA FREELAND (bio), Managing Editor, Financial Time

Summary by Anne Frances Cation

Unless the speakers are directly quoted, the following summaries contain paraphrasing.

Audrey Macklin

  • I would like to begin by drawing attention to the relationship between security and diversity. Is there an obvious tension? There are two answers. The first answer is that, yes, the diversity to a population (such as race, religion or sexuality) can contribute to the breakdown of social bounds, which therefore gives rise to insecurity so that the state must intervene. This first answer must focus on how to build social cohesion and how to generate trust in disparate social groups. The second response to this initial question is that it is not diversity that is threatening to security, but that it is rather specific entities which are threatening. Thus, in a post 9/11 environment, we are referring to Muslim men. So this question becomes what threats do Muslim men pose to security? This question is uncomfortable and troubling, but if it this is really the question, then we should deal directly with it and not code it.
  • I will discuss the second response to my question. I would also like to mention that this response brings into question men that are considered Muslim who are not, so who are ethnically Middle Eastern.
  • There is a widespread, unstated, framing of this issue: “to get security you need to give up some rights,” or “you buy security with rights.”
  • Look at today’s (10 August 2007) cover story in The Globe and Mail about Maher Arar. He is a Canadian-Syrian dual citizen who was stopped in JFK airport while coming home from a vacation and was “extraordinarily rendered.” As a result, he was sent to Syria via Jordan and was tortured for over a year. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police gave information about him to the American authorities. The Canadian government has been viewed as somewhat culpable as it did not directly collude to send him to Syria but yet did not put forward their best efforts to remove him from Syria. His human rights were clearly violated and traded off for security from terrorism. More recently, Arar was found innocent of all allegations against him.
  • I would also like to add that torture is a violation of most the greatest human right: it is a violation of one’s humanity. It is meant to break them as a human, as a human being.
  • This case deals with the issue of legal citizenship. A Canadian citizen was send abroad by the United States, so, a non-citizen sent abroad while not in his or her host country.
  • In the Suresh case, the Supreme Court was asked if a non-citizen could be deported even if they faced a good case of torture. It was concluded that it would be virtually against Canada’s policy except in some unspecified cases.
  • In order to be able to construct torture as acceptable, we first have to think of the person as incorrigible, as beyond the reach of self-reflection. We must attribute them with characteristics of irrationality, so they are non-fully human, thus it is permissible to do things to them as we see them as not fully human.
  • Another consideration is about access to information. In national security cases, the Canadian government can refuse to disclose information to alleged terrorists, even if this infringes on their ability to legally defend themselves because of security certificates against non-citizens. This was evident during Arar’s Inquiry, not releasing information to public and other actors. Today it has been reveled that the withheld information was not critical to national security but that it was rather that was embarrassing to the government.
  • Rights-versus-security is also a consideration in arbitrary detention, which included, post-9/11, demanding several thousand people in the United States to clarify their citizenship status, whose ethnic background were from several Muslim majority countries. Many hundred were detained, even up to several years, but there was never determined to be a security issue with any of them.
  • In conclusion, my discussion relates to citizenship. Arar’s status as a citizen was somehow devalued because he is a Muslim man. What message does that send to other citizens of Canada, whose citizenship can similarly be devalued? The Arar case was easy to rally around. He was innocent. What about marginally-acceptable cases, how much do they matter to us? How easily can their citizenship be devalued?

Sophie Body-Gendrot

  • I would like to start with a paradox: the need for safety yet the media effect’s increase in anxiety of the general population. I will also focus on urban life because they are generally portrayed as theatres of unexpected violence.
  • I would like to raise two questions: Can a population be protected without their liberties being violated? How do the municipal-level of government deal with threats to security?
  • We believe that we think with words when, in fact, words think through us. Reflect on the word “security,” take the single murder of a Dutch citizen by a man of Middle Eastern background. This singular event was culturally interpreted in the Netherlands as a wound against Dutch society, so much so that the country’s belief in its multicultural values was shattered and negative stereotypes about Muslims abounded.
  • People see the issues of “Homegrown Terrorism” as a collapse of the social contract. There is a pressure on the governmental authorities to lock these “others” out of the society and remove them from the protection of the social contract. This is “punitive populism” – a binary vision of us-versus-them – which is currently visible in the urban area in American gated communities. Emile Durkheim discusses this issue: when society suffers it needs to find someone to revenge against its fear and those who are most easily found are those who are naturally already in disfavor. These people become scapegoats.
  • In another case, to bring up the riots in France, when young men were burning cars they were also in competition with each other over their level of violence, to see who had burned more cars. This was similar with the violence of the Black Panther Movement in the United States. Even though some of their houses were ruined and their comrades died, those internal to the movement felt vindicated because other people had seen them. Thus, it was the media that made sense of this situation. Violence became contagious because of attention that they received by the media. During the Presidential Campaign these riots were the elephant in the room, politically, it has resulted in visible governmental ethnic diversity. Currently in France the Attorney General and the women in charge of Human Rights are two female visible minorities.
  • In general we should not be too binary about this discussion. It should be remembered that social order and disorder are deeply intertwined. We should focus on the emergence of stable and instable spaces in the global environments.

Chief Superintendent Kate Lines

  • I will keep my comments brief in order to participate more fully in the question and answer period.
  • The OPP is in the midst of a long journey in recognizing diversity as a positive attribute and translating it into a better working environment for employees and the community at large. The OPP has attempted to effectively police a diverse society, while internally it becomes a more diverse organization.
  • All parties must endorse the importance of diversity, to communicate the shared future vision and to start from within with a critical examination of current operating procedure.
  • The OPP is nearing the end of the “Diversity Dialogues,” which met with all employees to discuss their needs for diversity. Over 18,000 civilian employees and 50,000 uniformed employees in 166 detachments and satellite offices have been or are in the midst of being interviewed.
  • I would like to emphasize that the OPP embraces diversity and plans to continue embracing this diversity. We must shift our paradigm to a shared vision of diversity. We also focus on seeing a diverse pool of recruits for hire and promotion, which will match our various business needs, such as intelligence officers having a cultural or linguistic advantage to the group that is being investigated.
  • In all, public trust and confidence must always be earned. We must work with the public to ensure safety and confidence.

Highlights from the Question and Answer Period

Question: Where is “race” in this discussion of security threats to diversity?

Macklin: It is more a question of where is the racialization? It is interesting that a Muslim is now being treated as a race. This signifies that “race” is socially constructed. Religions are currently being viewed as an organic, immutable, sense of self. Thus, “race” is still present, only it is floating around here in new forms.

Q: Macklin, previously you stated that “to get security you have to give up some rights,” which rights can we give up for security?

Macklin: There is no universally applicable answer to this question, instead there are only case-specific deviations for giving up human rights. In legal terms, one must question if this giving up of rights is demonstrably justified? To respond, one must provide concrete evidence of the need for the infringement on rights because the general flag of security does not legally count. The answer “just trust us,” when coming from government/legal bodies, is not a good enough answer.

Q: What is your position on profiling —not racial profiling, but more generally, including, age, gender or national origin− as a tool for generating security?

Body-Gendrot: What would policing be without profiling? Shouldn’t the police go to where they would be useful and to instill order?

Q: If voters want to give up rights for security, is it an issue?

Macklin: In countries where there is a constitution, there is an idea that democracy is larger than the results of elections, and votes, and that the democratic principles are spread throughout the government, including the judiciary. This judiciary should see that the issues passed are democratic.