Lawyer wants to stop Vancouver visit by Tony Blair
She has already tried prosecuting outgoing U.S. president George W. Bush under the Criminal Code.
Now Vancouver lawyer Gail Davidson wants to block the expected arrival this fall of Bush's former "coalition of the willing" cohort, former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair.
"I am trying to get the Canadian government to declare him a persona non grata who is not admissible to Canada," Davidson, cofounder of an international group of jurists called Lawyers Against the War, told the Straight by phone.
Blair supported Bush's call to invade Iraq in 2003. Now the former three-term prime minister is the keynote speaker at the 2009 Surrey Regional Economic Summit in October.
Davidson wrote in a follow-up e-mail that she will write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and advise them that Blair is inadmissible to Canada under provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act "because he has been credibly accused of violating human rights and international law".
Davidson claimed that Blair did this by "committing an act outside Canada that constitutes an offence referred to in Sections 4 to 7 of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act".
In the e-mail, Davidson noted that Blair may also be inadmissible for "being a prescribed senior official in the service of a government that, in the opinion of the Minister, engages or has engaged in terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity within the meaning of subsections 6(3) to (5) of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act".
In a December 1, 2008, news release, Surrey mayor Dianne Watts welcomed the prospect of Blair speaking at the summit.
"This year's event was an excellent start, and in 2009, with Tony Blair as our featured speaker, we'll definitely build on that success," Watts said in the release issued by the City of Surrey. Davidson suggested Watts may not know the law.
"I am sure that many intelligent and thoughtful people, as I am sure the mayor of Surrey is, think that it is lawful for the U.S. to bomb completely undefended countries, because they have been doing that for 50 or 60 years and there has never been a law invoked against them," Davidson said. "I am sure she [Watts] thinks that, now Mr. Blair is out of office and the powers that be in Britain are publicly regretting the lies and chicanery that went into them being part of the assaulting force in Iraq, that everything is fine. Who could fault her for that? Presumably, you could ask why one would want such a man speaking."
Watts did not comment by Straight deadline.