Canada's newest political prisoner?
May 3, 2001 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Canada's newest political prisoner? "Well-known activist Jaggi Singh, accused of using a wooden catapult to lob teddy bears at police during the Quebec City summit two weeks ago, faces a preliminary hearing on May 16... Mr. Singh is the only protester still in jail among the 463 people arrested during the [FTAA] summit, at which of 34 countries in North and South America met to discuss reaching a hemispheric trade deal by 2005." Of course, the National Post has its own take on things.
posted by tranquileye (15 comments total)
From the National Post:

"Jaggi is not a member of our group, and has never been a member of our group. Nor will we ever let him become a member of our group, as his sense of humour does not meet the rigorous standards required by DIST," the group says in a message claiming responsibility for the catapult.

"Sense of humor"? Abbie Hoffman lives!
posted by jpoulos at 1:34 PM on May 3, 2001

in jail? for lobbing teddy-bears?!?

can someone find me a country that DOESN'T smash our freedoms down whenever the gov't gets cranky?

(offers for trips to that oil-rig off the coast of the UK will be crushed, melted, and returned.)
posted by jcterminal at 1:35 PM on May 3, 2001

When does the Anti-FTAA Tour come to my town? Who's frontlining this year? Is Ticketmaster gonna shaft me with handling fees again?
posted by techgnollogic at 1:40 PM on May 3, 2001

The kick here is Singh never even touched the catapult. He is solely an organizer of the protest, which means Canada is keeping him in jail for publicly expressing his political beliefs. Every person with any belief in democracy and freedom of speech should be outraged at this totalitarian act.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:46 PM on May 3, 2001

Now, Come on, Cap'n, if we let people organize events where teddy bears are thrown, what next? Hug grenades? The madness has to stop somewhere.
posted by Doug at 3:36 PM on May 3, 2001

Napalm fronds. Cruise whistles.
posted by dhartung at 6:06 PM on May 3, 2001

I was about to say that this could never happen in the good old USofA.
Then I saw this a little further down the page
posted by keithl at 8:05 PM on May 3, 2001

This link will work better than keithl's.

Jaggi Singh was actually on the phone with Naomi Klein when he was arrested, telling her to meet him where he was, which was a "green zone" (ie no violence). The cops, dressed undercover, didn't identify themselves until the arrest was well under way. It has been likened to a kidnapping in terms of the approach they took.

My friend Lyle Stewart gave over most of his column last Friday to an extended interview he did with Singh from jail.

Last but not least - it seems the Post folks are pretty clueless, identifying the Edmonton guy as Guy Debord, who it certainly was not!
posted by mikel at 9:31 PM on May 3, 2001

cap'n crackpipe: Canada is not keeping the prisoner in jail, as far as I can understand the situation. The province of Quebec is. Seems to me there's quite a distinction there -- there is quite a difference between federal Canadian action and provincial action in general, even more so than there is a distinction between American federal and state action. (Then there would appear to be much more cultural and media centralization in the U.S., if only as a result of language.) But I'd rather someone from Canada explain if the distinction means much here, given the national significance of the trade talks.
posted by raysmj at 10:01 PM on May 3, 2001

Okay, but I.2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows for “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression...” Its binding in every province, but it seems Quebec is intent on suppressing that particular right.

The police violence during the FTAA summit was atrocious. Canada was intent on squelching any and all speech regarding the summit. This is just a continuation.

The more supposedly democratic leaders act like dictators — holding political prisoners, rallying police to break up rallies — the more they create a need for an people’s movement.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:07 AM on May 4, 2001

raysmj and capt.crackpipe:
Quebec (as all provinces of Canada) got no jurisdiction over criminal law AT ALL. Quebec is not holding anybody. Those are federal prisons, federal (means Ottawa) laws, federal choices, federal organizations, Quebec and his prime got no word to said or do as far as the summit goes. Provincial cops were used as r.c.m.p. and municipals cops, but they were (are) applying federal laws/decisions. Canada is not U.S.A., ain't working the same way up here. Provinces don't have any power over criminal laws period, never had, proly never will, so no redneck running around executing black people, no gun in trucks, no crazy laws, no bigots, no nazi, lotsa sexy natural french speaking chicks (especially right now, spring time! boobs, ass, everywhere!). Did you know there is a law allowing women to display their chest in public as men can do in the summer? Yes!!! Canada!!!
posted by kush at 3:55 AM on May 4, 2001

Kush: And Quebec didn't grant those women the right to vote in provincial elections until what, the 1970s? A smidgen of national chauvenism never hurt anyone, but . . . it was just a question, and a simple answer would've done nicely. Also looked up a bit of info since I received no answer here and, yes, it's a unified legal system, 'cept for the fact that Quebec courts are operated under civil law rather than common law. They do have special status.
posted by raysmj at 8:35 AM on May 4, 2001

raysmj, this isn't about Quebec doing something that Canada wouldn't even though there are odd differences between Quebec and the rest of the country. There's nothing special about this happening in Quebec. It's not like Quebec was "just right" for this sort of thing so explaining it.

Women had the vote much later here than anywhere else, but that was a different society, pre-revolution. There was a revolution here in the 60s, and Quebec law, politics, society, everything is completely different now than then. At that time Quebec was largely controlled by the Church, whereas now it is the most secular jurisdiction in North America. It used to be conservative beyond belief, but is now among the most progressive spots around.
posted by mikel at 8:47 AM on May 4, 2001

Oh mikel: I was just giving the previous poster a smidgen of a hard time for being so defensive and rah-rah Canada (good to see that, actually), at the expense of the U.S. The deal with the possible provincial control is, I've been taught to believe that the provinces are so much more powerful there than the states are in America. Which is not to imply that anything's wrong with that. Here, state control can sometimes be a great thing, contrary to conventional liberal wisdom. (The states have in fact been at the forefront of most progressive policies since the federal government deficits grew and Congress turned to the right. Look for aaron's post re the "federal government" in tobacco policy on another thread below for an example.). The problem is that states can become far too isolated and distinctively stupid in their decision-making, especially as regards law enforcement when one's around to kick their butts in line or challenge them. Sort of a state example of groupthink. Wondered if that might have held even partially true in Quebec, which was under a lot of pressure. Apparently not, but I was just asking.
posted by raysmj at 9:22 AM on May 4, 2001

For those interested, there is now an online petition.
posted by snowmelter at 10:19 AM on May 4, 2001

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