Biometric Boondoggle

Canada Wastes Big Bucks to Bring “Civil Libertarian”

Alan Dershowitz to Stump for National ID Cards

by Kim Petersen

Dissident Voice

October 18, 2003


In a spill over from 9-11, Canadian Immigration Minister Dennis Coderre has been pushing for the introduction of national identification cards. When faced with initial opposition Mr. Coderre tried the route of a national debate. The debate faced charges of a stacked deck. Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian was refused an invitation to the Forum on Biometrics even though she is a recognized authority on biometrics. Ms. Cavoukian is also an outspoken opponent of imposing a national identity card upon Canadians. Mr. Coderre denies that there was any blacklisting and avers that the forum was to hear from all viewpoints.


One invited speaker that raised concern was controversial Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz. Mr. Dershowitz is a vehement defender of Israel who denounces Israeli detractors as being guilty of  bigotry, hypocrisy, or abysmal ignorance at the very least,” not to mention the much bandied-about term for critics of Israel: anti-Semitism. His rationale sounds, oddly enough, something along the lines of Israel being the best of a bad bunch. Although a self-styled civil libertarian he has argued that torture could be justified under certain conditions. Most recently Mr. Dershowitz’s scholarly credentials are under scrutiny, as he stands accused of plagiarism. That the Canadian government saw fit to fork out C$36,000 to bring in this contentious professor to pontificate on the need for a national identification card for Canadians is the real cause for concern.


Mr. Coderre asserts that the national IDs would provide Canadians with greater security. However, as fellow government colleague and chair of the Immigration and Citizenship committee Joe Fontana points out, Mr. Coderre failed to offer compelling rationale of how this would be so.


Opponents decried the national IDs as another costly bureaucratic invasion of privacy.


Mr. Coderre refuted this argument and stated: One thing is certain. The biometric train has left the station. We have to ask ourselves where do we want to sit on that train?


Others have more reasonably argued that the biometric information could simply be encoded instead in the passports of Canadians.


Despite the supportive speech by Mr. Dershowitz, Mr. Coderre was forced to throw in the towel on national identification cards for Canadians.


Maybe Canadians remember better than Mr. Dershowitz the admonition of a noted American Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, who said that those who are willing to sacrifice their freedoms for security deserve neither.


Canadians refused to board Mr. Coderre’s train that turns out to have been derailed.


Kim Petersen lives in Nova Scotia and is a regular contributor to Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: kimpetersen@gyxi.dk


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