A British Columbia-based lawyer and activist, Gail Davidson, has filed a complaint with the Vancouver police, asking that they investigate Tom Flanagan’s recent on-air attempt at humour. Flanagan, a political-science professor at the University of Calgary and a campaign manager for Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2006, made comments on CBC’s Power & Politics program that suggested that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be assassinated.
Flanagan’s comment has been picked up by media around the world. Most in Canada who know Flanagan or watch him on Power & Politics understand his comment was little more than a poor attempt at sarcasm and was not intended to be taken seriously. Even some journalists who are not known to be right-leaning—Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail and CTV’s Question Period comes to mind—seem to have taken the words as they were intended. Others have not.
Davidson reportedly alleged that Flanagan’s statement qualifies as a breach of Section 464 of the Criminal Code, which applies to “… every one who counsels another person to commit an indictable offence… .” Section 464 applies even if the counseled offence is not committed and is a very serious offence.
Does Davidson really believe a crime has been committed here? Apparently so for she wrote in her complaint to the Vancouver police that Flanagan “counseled and/or incited the assassination of Julian Assange contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada.” And Davidson is a lawyer and must know how egregious it is to file trivial complaints with the police.
In 2004, Gail Davidson—a co-founder of the group Lawyers Against the War (LAW)—in an attempt to bar the president of the United States from entering Canada, laid torture charges under the Criminal Code of Canada against President George W. Bush. The charges concerned the publicized abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and similar alleged abuses at Guantánamo Bay. Apparently Davidson was acting on behalf of LAW. In that instance, Judge William Kitchen acceded to the Attorney General’s objections and declared the charges “a nullity”.
As a lawyer, Davidson most certainly knew that that a sitting head of state always has diplomatic immunity and that her allegations would not go far in a Canadian court. Yet she persisted.
In 2009, Davidson is quoted as saying that, because President George W. Bush has been “credibly accused” of supporting torture in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Canada has a legal obligation to deny him entry. Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act says foreign nationals who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity, including torture, are “inadmissible” to Canada.
In 2001, Davidson asserted, in part, that: “The simple fact is that Canada is engaged in illegal military strikes against Afghanistan, and in the process has violated a number of principles embodied in international law… .”
So, as I see it, Gail Davidson has a political agenda with her activism spreading far wider than the few examples offered above. Her activism seems to include using all tools available to score points against her political “enemies.” Hopefully, the Vancouver police will not be for her what Lenin referred to as “useful idiots.”