Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

right? right?

Members of the legal fraternity could start with the second right.

On the other hand, as reported on the Globe and Mail’s web site

The Harper government is preparing to carve out a new role for Canada as a champion of religious rights abroad …

Early in 2012, the Tories will finally flesh out a campaign promise to install the Office of Religious Freedom within the secular confines of the Department of Foreign Affairs …

The article adds

The new Conservative office – which will publicly criticize regimes that mistreat religious minorities – is in part a workaround to avoid the pushback the Tories previously encountered from the Foreign Affairs bureaucracy. Conservatives privately complain that civil servants in some instances resisted their efforts to raise concern about religious persecution.

The article writer sought Michael Ignatief’s views.

Former Liberal leader Michael Ignatief, for one, offers qualified support for the new office.

The article doesn’t mentioned who else the reported asked, so we don’t know who the for 2, 3, 4 etc., might be, if they exist. As for Mr. Ignatief’s view, the article adds

But he says it can’t be a tool for pressure groups the Conservatives hope to appease in Canada.

“It’s a good thing provided it defends all cases of religious persecution, not just those that are bothering domestic constituencies at home, and that it doesn’t ignore other human-rights violations, which usually accompany religious persecution, like limits on freedom of the press, denial of democratic rights and persecution.”

Who’d ever think of accusing the current regime of pandering?

Or limiting freedom of the press, denying democratic rights etc. … well, the Parliamentary Gallery might; and some scholars of constitutional law; and some people who have this unusual belief that the current majority has as much of an obligation to obey laws passed by the past Parliament (until the laws are repealed or declared unconstitutional (oops)) as a former Tory Cabinet minister accused of things we can’t speak of (because we don’t know and were never told).

Pandering is some sort of unusual activity involving lobbyists and lobbying, best not carried out in lobbies, right?


  1. Today’s Globe & Mail site carries a report about Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s defence of the project.


    Apparently the Foreign Affairs Minister “has been consulting internationally, including meetings with the Vatican in Rome and a day of consultations in Ottawa with religious groups in October.”

    Yup. The Vatican and the like. I’m assuming the other religious groups were the other major religions in Canada, but the article doesn’t mention it. (Now there’s hotbeds of belief in religious freedom (see Nobody Expects … etc.)

    There’s no suggestion that Mr. Baird consulted with, say, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or even Salman Rushdie, about other methods of standing up for the rights of minorities in other countries. I realize that Mr. Hitchens is dead so that should pose a problem, even for the Conservatives.

  2. I appreciate that David Cheifetz’s headline “Nobody’s expecting the Spanish Inquisition” was intended in a singularly metaphorical way. That said, I think there are some striking similarities between our present government and the Spanish Inquisition:

    * The tendency to send people for “extreme rendition” is, perhaps, the strongest commonality. Granted that Canada sends word to the U.S. or some other foreign country and leaves the actual torture up to them; nonetheless, Canada “causes it to be done.”

    * The expectation that torture will yield useful intelligence, while perhaps a corollary of the earlier point is, I think, nonetheless, worth a mention.

    * Singling out a particular, but ill-defined ethnic group for this abuse;

    * Continuing to keep surveillance on members of that ethnig group even after they have converted, in one case, or achieved citizenship, as the modern equivalent.

    I, for one, keep the Spanish Inquisition firmly in mind, albeit on a back burner. In other words, it is a phenomenon that I half-expect.

    Best wishes for an early redemption,

    Mickey Posluns.