Vancouver city council offers Dick Cheney “safe haven”, lawyer says
Through the lens of peace, lawyer Gail Davidson sees unambiguously how much Vancouver city council has changed.
The cofounder of the international group Lawyers Against the War recalled that only eight years ago, in January 2003, Vancouver became the first city in Canada to oppose the war on Iraq. The city took this position due to the passing of a resolution by council, then dominated by the Coalition of Progressive Electors.
The U.S. government, whose leaders at that time were president George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, commenced the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Now, according to Davidson, municipal politicians don’t seem interested in maintaining Vancouver’s proud tradition as a “city of peace”.
“The Vision-dominated council appears to be saying that Vancouver is now a safe haven for accused war criminals,” Davidson told the Straight in a phone interview on September 21. “That we will give them a warm welcome, and will actually act to ensure that the law isn’t enforced.”
On September 20, Davidson wrote to Vision Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and all the councillors belonging to his party, COPE, and the Non-Partisan Association about her concerns over the scheduled September 26 visit of Cheney to the city.
She asked Robertson and each councillor to make public statements that Cheney, being “a person accused on reasonable grounds of torture and other war crimes and crimes against humanity”, is not welcome in Vancouver.
Davidson also wanted them to acknowledge that Canada is duty-bound not to protect Cheney from prosecution. She likewise suggested that Robertson direct the police to arrest Cheney.
As of the morning of September 21, Davidson had yet to hear from Robertson and any of the councillors.
“When our politicians at the municipal level and up to the federal level are saying, ‘Oh, we’re not going to bother even answering your request, we’re going to shield these people from accountability,’ that’s alarming because it signals a very fundamental breakdown of the system that we rely on,” Davidson said.
Robertson’s assistant Kevin Quinlan informed the Straight on September 20 that the mayor isn’t going to ask police chief Jim Chu to arrest Cheney.