As reported by the CBC, the Security Intelligence Review Committee has released a report indicating that CSIS violated Omar Khadr's human rights by not taking his age into account when he was interrogated at Guantanamo Bay. (He was sixteen at the time, and as video evidence shows, broke down crying for his mother while being questioned.)
Further, as reported by Kathleen Petty of CBC on The House, SIRC's report indicates that "CSIS cannot carry out its mandate solely from an intelligence-gathering perspective. They have to take things like human rights into account."
I'm not going to comment on this in depth, but I'd like to say -- thank goodness. It remains to be seen whether or not CSIS will develop a proper protocol for dealing with youth in the future, but the declaration by SIRC that human rights have to take precedence over gathering information fits quite precisely with what I like to imagine to be Canadian values.
And, on that note, an aside about health care. Today, I decided that I wanted a specialist opinion about a (definitely not urgent) health issue. So, being in the US and having good insurance through my student-employee union, I checked the directory for my insurance provider, and booked an appointment. In about two weeks, I'll be seeing a specialist (with a subspecialty, even), and paying about $10 out of pocket.
So, for a few minutes, I thought -- maybe this is better than the care I'd receive in Canada. Back home, I'd certainly be waiting longer for this doctor, and being in a smaller area I'd like not be able to find a doctor with this particular subspecialty. I wouldn't be able to decide on my own, either, that I wanted this issue double-checked, and then to make my appointment.
But then I thought, you know, I would gladly sacrifice those benefits to be sure that I was in a system where other people are getting looked after. I'd quite happily wait a few more weeks or months to be seen (with no likely health consequences). I'd quite happily consult with my GP about a referral. And all of that is, quite simply, because that's the way I think things should work.
So, at the risk of playing Smug Canadian (a game I try to avoid), I'll point out that this too is part of what I imagine to be Canadian values. Just as I'd choose to protect human rights over 'intelligence gathering', I'd choose to be part of a national collective that protects the basic healthcare needs of everybody over the convenience of those privileged to have good coverage. That's not to say that the Canadian system is perfect -- because it isn't, of course. But the principle behind the system is, well, the right one.
Aieee! Have I gone patriotic?