CBC panelists Bruce Anderson and Andrew Coyne manufacture consent that Dick Cheney is not a war criminal
Last night on CBC's The National, viewers got a dose of how an elite consensus is formed in this country.
And the elite consensus for now is that former U.S. president George W. Bush and former vice president Dick Cheney are not war criminals.
One of the commentators on last night's At Issue panel, Harris Decima senior associate Bruce Anderson, reinforced that by suggesting there were political risks when NDP MPs "tilt at all kinds of windmills".
Anderson cited two instances in the past week of New Democrats making remarks that "will strike some centrist voters as being not ready for primetime".
"One example may be being the NDP critic who said that Dick Cheney shouldn't be allowed in the country," Anderson said. "A lot of people in Canada don't like Dick Cheney, don't agree with what he did, but I think that might not strike people as being the way to handle that issue."
As he was making this comment, the CBC inserted a shot of another panelist, Andrew Coyne, nodding his head in agreement.
Then Anderson said that NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp's opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline was also risky.
At that point, Coyne responded: "I agree that some of the positions of the party or of members of the party can strike people as eccentric. I'm not sure I would classify opposition to the Keystone as being that. I think that's something a respectable opinion could hold..."
Ergo, according to these elite commentators, it's not a "respectable opinion" to believe that Cheney should be barred from entering Canada under Section 35 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, as Vancouver Kingsway NDP MP and lawyer Don Davies argued on September 23.
This exchange was broadcast across Canada on the same day that the mainstream media ignored a news conference held by two legal groups in Vancouver to urge that Bush be prosecuted for torture in Canada.
The event was held across the street from the Vancouver CBC building by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and the Canadian Centre for International Justice, which released a 70-page indictment against the former president.
At the news conference, lawyers Katherine Gallagher and Matt Eisenbrandt placed several binders of documents on the table to advance their argument that Canada is required under the UN convention on torture to arrest Bush when he arrives in the Lower Mainland for an October 20 speaking engagement.
Gallagher insisted that Bush has no claim of immunity now that he is out of office.
"This lengthy indictment details how George Bush is accountable for torture, needs to be held accountable for torture, and a credible case exists," she stated.
So far, elite media commentators, Justice Department lawyers, and the police haven't seemed to grasp this.
I asked Eisenbrandt if it's possible to hold Crown counsel accountable for their inaction.
"What we need to do is when Crown officials fail to fulfill their legal obligations under the convention against torture, we need to use the mechanisms available to us—first through the international system to hold the government responsible for failing in its duties," he replied. "And beyond that, again, I think that there is a need for education not just of the public but of government officials about their duties and their legal obligations so that in the future, perhaps different action will be taken."
Matt Eisenbrandt says it's necessary to educate people about Canada's international legal obligations.
He also said that the lawyers "are serious about this and we aren't going to stop".
His attitude reminded me of Mohandas Gandhi's famous dictum: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.