A speech by CUPE's Deborah Bourque (2004)

on April 11, 2004
by Brian author list
in article > Mohamed Harkat

Speech by Deborah Bourque, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers

(Ottawa, April 1, 2004)

Thanks for the opportunity to be part of this very important event.

On behalf of 54,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers I want to bring greetings of solidarity and support for the five [sic] men who have been imprisoned under security certificates and to their families.

I also want to add our voices to the outrage that is being expressed here today.

Postal workers are no strangers to the heavy hand of the state.

We've been under surveillance by the RCMP and CSIS since the 1970's.

Our rights and our civil liberties have been repeatedly violated in the name of national security.

We have always understood that the state had extraordinary powers, or they could give themselves extraordinary powers when it suited them.

And that the state was prepared to use those powers against those who challenged the status quo.

But that all pales in comparison to these most recent attacks on rights and freedoms.

The fact that five Muslim men have been imprisoned for months, in fact, years without charges, is an outrage and a disgrace. And it's blatant and deliberate racism.

We can never forget that or the damage that this racism does to entire communities.

But it's much more than that. I think it's important to call it what it really is - one shouldn't use terms like police state and fascism lightly.

But I don't know how else to name it.

-when people can be imprisoned without charges
-without disclosure of evidence
-without the concept of innocent until proven guilty
-without a trial
-without the right of appeal
-when hundreds of Arabs and Muslims can be harassed and interrogated and threatened by CSIS

-and this in a country that purports to be a democracy
-with a government that calls themselves liberals

This is nothing short of fascism and we need to understand that. And we need to understand where this will inevitably lead.

Right now the government has an interest in targeting Muslim and Arab men to support George Bush's phony war against terrorism and to incite hatred and fear of Arabs.

This puts those communities in real danger.

So we need to speak out against the security certificates if for no other reason than we believe that these racist attacks are wrong.

But there are other reasons too.

Tomorrow or next week or next year it could be any one of us.

Just because you're not Arab or Muslim doesn't mean that you should relax.

Just because you're white or middle class or a Christian doesn't mean you won't be a target.

-if you're a trade unionist
-if you're a peace activist
-if you're a community activist
-if you're an anti-globalization activist

you're as much of a threat to national security as these five men.

So all of us have to speak out.

We know that our collective voices can have an effect.

We need more rallies and demonstrations like this.

Human rights and civil liberties must be an issue in the upcoming federal election.

Some hold this country up as a champion of human rights.

Nothing can be farther from the truth and that truth has to be exposed.