Monday, January 12, 2009

Thinking Outside The Box

When Harper prorogued [I know, cool word, eh?] Parliament late last year, he and the leaders of the opposition parties might have forgot one tiny thing ... terrorism (or the GWOT or those pesky wars "over there" or whatever you may choose to call it) has not been prorogued. Meaning, it's not about to go away any time soon.

And although, personally, I'm not quite as positive about our new Liberal leader as Danny Eisen (but I am prepared to sit back and give him a chance to show us his stuff - hey, he has to be better than his predecessor), I am somewhat enamoured with this new idea.

Cindy Barkway was five months pregnant with her second child and was in New York on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, while her husband David attended a meeting on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. You can read the rest of her story here.

But she has now banded together with Maureen Basnicki, another 9-11 widow, and other terror victims across Canada to promote a different kind of anti-terror legislative initiative.

These two women and their associates who are members of C-CAT, the Canadian Coalition Against Terror, have taken aim at those who fund and sponsor atrocities like the attacks on Mumbai. The complex and convoluted nature of terrorist financing has made it extremely difficult for our criminal courts to prove the guilt of terror sponsors "beyond a reasonable doubt." Only one person has ever been convicted of this crime in Canada, even though authorities have identified hundreds of millions of terror-related dollars flowing through this country in recent years.

But the legislative initiative proposed by Ms. Barkway and other Canadian terror victims would change that. It would allow Canadian terror victims to launch civil suits against state and local sponsors of terrorism in Canadian courts. In civil action, only the preponderance of evidence is required to successfully find the purveyors of mass murder liable for their actions, to seize their assets and to expose them to the public for what they are. This bill can succeed in deterring terror sponsorship where the criminal justice system has failed to do so. Yet it violates no one’s rights, does not require the firing of a single bullet and does not need the permission of the Governor General.
Civil liability for terrorist acts. Who would've thunk it?

The legislation will soon be re-introduced in the Senate by Senator David Tkachuk. And although I am honestly unsure as to the logistics and the potential, practical effusiveness of such legislation (just how does one go about enforcing a civil judgment against Al-Qaeda, for example), I do hope that the Conservatives, Liberals and other assorted actors will be able to pull their heads out of their own orifices long enough to give it serious consideration.

You have to admit, it is a novel idea. Albeit one that doesn't seem to be receiving much media attention. Although Ms. Barkway appears to be well-known to Canadians in regard to the loss of her husband on September 11th, there isn't much to find in regard to this initiative.

But desperate times, as they say, require desperate measures. Or, perhaps more accurately, it's time to start thinking outside the box and at least consider other possible ways to financially impair the terrorist infrastructure that has hurt us all.

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