Writing in The Toronto Star, Thomas Walkom argues that Canada should provide sanctuary for Edward Snowden:
“By all rights, Snowden should be a Conservative poster boy. He has upheld the rights of the individual against intrusive big-brother government. He has exposed incidents of industrial espionage carried out by a foreign regime.”
This is maybe a bit of trolling on the part of Mr. Walkom. The Conservatives haven’t been the party of small government in a long time (and never since they’ve been in power), but they certainly claim to be the party of the individual, so, as a critique, this holds.
As Mr. Walkom points out (and as I have mentioned before), Canada has a history of hosting political fugitives. We welcomed thousands of resisters during the Vietnam war, and many defectors during the Cold War. We’ve always been willing to offer due process and sober second thought in these sorts of cases, so maybe it’s appropriate here, too.
Mr. Walkom notes there’s even a sort of precedent, in a goose/gander sort of way:
There is a precedent of sorts. In the late 1830s, William Lyon Mackenzie — Toronto’s first mayor and the leader of a failed rebellion in what is now Ontario — fled to the U.S. where, after being jailed for a year, he was welcomed and given work.
Had he been returned to Toronto, Mackenzie, like two of his co-conspirators, would have been hanged. His crime of armed rebellion was far more serious than Snowden’s whistle-blowing.
But the American government of the day had the good sense to see that its northern neighbour was gripped by a kind of fearful madness — as the U.S., for understandable reasons, is now.