I volunteer at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa for a few hours a week. It is a very modern building with a theme worked into it by its architect Raymond Moriyama. It is a very interesting building, you can take an architectural tour to see this architectural gem and what it all means to veterans. It is quite beautiful.
He designed the building with the Veterans of the First World War in mind and their experience of living and fighting in trenches. The building surges from the Earth which is quite dramatic. Moriyama is of Japanese ancestry, he has designed many prominent buildings in Canada and elsewhere in the World.
I had time today to wander around and look at various exhibits, in Gallery 4 which is dedicated to a Violent Peace, the Cold War Years and the Atomic age there is an area dedicated to Civil Liberties of the late 1950’s and 1960’s. During the Cold War governments wanted to stop the Red Menace which was the Soviet Union and its Allies and to do so it was necessary to spy on its own citizens. So the fear of Communism back then and of a Nuclear Attack or of sleeper agents passing State Secrets to the Soviets was the big threat. Government agents were looking for specific individual but in the process they snagged quite a few ordinary citizens who were just going about their lives.
Today all this looks laughable to the visitors, it was 50 years ago, a lifetime really. But currently we have another threat to our Civil Liberties with terrorism from ISIS or ISIL. Currently Bill C-51 in the House of Commons is the latest from the Harper Government to curb Civic Liberties to provide illusive security. The powers of the police would be under this bill very far reaching. Many commentators have written about it and the consensus appears to be that Canadians should be concerned, freedom is one thing and security another, not one and the same.
Some 50 years ago people were concerned about protecting Civil Liberties, a few years before we had come out of the Second World War and the threat of Nazism and Fascism. People understood how important freedom was in a democratic society. People wanted questions answered on Civil Liberties and limits to government powers over its citizens, I remember the demonstrations of the time. Today it is a different kettle of fish, people seem apathetic. The bogey man is the Jihadist and extremist, it looks like it is safe to let the police do what they want and honest folks have nothing to worry about, we are told. Not so again according to Legal experts, in any society there is no such thing as someone who has nothing to hide. Anything can be used against individuals.
It looks like in the book 1984 we have been told who the enemy is and who to fear by the power that be and the rest will take care of itself. Sad state of affairs all around, ignorance and apathy seem to be the order of the day. One threat disappeared in 1989 with the fall of Communism and now a new threat, we are told, has emerge but on a very different scale. During the Cold War we dealt with several States who had armies and geographic areas of interest, the rules were clear. Now we are dealing with a group in one region of the world who uses brutality to carry its message of domination in that region.
I wonder what it will take to wake people up in Canada about the importance of safekeeping Civil Liberties from too eager politicians out to maintain themselves in power at all cost and using incidents to justify their actions without providing answers and justifications for their policy choices.