Canada sought U.S. help in crafting a national hostage policy, hoping to follow the secretive American policy as “closely as possible,” a U.S. diplomatic cable leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks shows.
In early January 2009 — after five kidnappings in as many months — Canada asked for a briefing on U.S. policy in hostage situations as it planned to create a formal national policy of its own.
“Canada seeks to coordinate its policy as closely as possible with that of the U.S.,” the leaked U.S. State Department diplomatic cable states.
The cable, marked “secret,” was among a batch of leaked U.S. diplomatic documents released to CBC News by WikiLeaks.
Neil Brennan, a senior policy adviser on counter-terrorism working for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, was leading the Canadian process and put in a request to visit Washington on Jan. 29 to speak about the U.S. policy.
The diplomatic cable cites Brennan as saying the spate of recent kidnapping and hostage incidents involving Canadians motivated the Prime Minister’s Office to order the drafting of a comprehensive national strategy.
It quotes Brennan as acknowledging that “Canada realizes it may have conflicting priorities in mixed U.S.-Canada hostage situations, given the much broader strategic role.”
“Senior Canadian officials nonetheless want to see as little divergence as possible,” the cable quotes Brennan as saying.
In the second half of 2008, there were five Canadians kidnapped abroad: Alberta reporter Amanda Lindhout in Somalia; CBC reporter Mellissa Fung in Afghanistan; controversial B.C. journalist Beverly Giesbrecht in Pakistan; and Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay in Niger.
In those hostage cases, Canada was forced to “develop responses ‘on the fly'” and “constantly found itself revisiting important policy issues mid-crisis,” Brennan is quoted as saying.
This release by WikiLeaks show s a clear shift in the attitudes and policy of Canadian politics. When Steven Harper, leader of the Conservative Party came to power, many were concerned that the nation would be turning in an American direction. The decision make our hostage policy the same as America shows that our unique dimension that separates us from the US is being systematically destroyed. For countless decades we Canadians have prided ourselves on our differences from Americans. Now that is being destroyed in favour of replication. The recent “election” of a Conservative majority contained the same anti-democratic tactics that the elections of George Bush featured.
How no illusions Canada has been placed on the path to a US style fascism that will cost us not only our identity and health care but our rights as well.