Why Bush Should be Banned from Canada

The Right Honourable Paul Martin
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
Langevin Block
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Canada K1A 0A2
Tel: 613 6868
Fax: 613-941-6900
Email: pm@pm.gc.ca


Dear Prime Minister Martin:

It was with absolute dismay that we learned of the planned visit of President Bush to Canada on November 30th 2004.

Surely you are aware of the many grave crimes against humanity and war crimes for which President Bush stands properly accused by the world, starting with the Nuremberg Tribunal’s ‘supreme international crime’ of waging an aggressive war against Iraq in defiance of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, and including systematic and massive violations of the Geneva Conventions Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War and Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, as well as the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. As recently as November 16, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and former war crimes prosecutor Louise Arbour called for an investigation into crimes against the Geneva Conventions in the assault by US forces on the densely populated city of Fallujah.
The terrible toll in life and limb of these crimes was documented in a study carried out by the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in Baltimore and published in the October 29, 2004 issue of the British Medical Journal The Lancet which conservatively estimated that the war had taken 100,000 Iraqi lives, mostly women and children. This was well within the range predicted before the war, for example by a British affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War who, in November 2002, assessed the probable death toll at a minimum of 48,000 deaths, mostly civilians, and predicted that post-war conditions would cost an additional 200,000 lives.

The President’s responsibility for these offences derives not only from his ‘command responsibility’ as Commander in Chief of US forces, for crimes that he knew were being committed, or ignored through willful blindness, but did nothing to prevent; it also comes from his direct involvement in the formulation of policy. This includes his personal involvement not only in the devising and waging of an aggressive, illegal war, but also of the unlawful refusal to grant prisoner of war status to prisoners of war, contrary to specific provisions of the Geneva Conventions, an act repudiated in the US Courts. It also includes the approval of techniques of interrogation by his direct subordinate, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, that legally and morally constitute torture and that led directly to the disgraceful violence against Iraqi prisoners, for example at the prison at Abu Ghraib.

As you know, not only are these acts criminal under international law, but many of them are also criminal under Canadian law, under laws enacted in pursuance of our international obligations, most importantly the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, put in place just four years ago under a Liberal government. They also violate the provisions on torture in the Canadian Criminal Code.

By these laws, Canadians and non-Canadians alike are liable to prosecution in Canada, no matter where in the world they have committed their crimes. Furthermore, as the Attorney General can advise, the fact that these crimes have been committed by Mr. Bush while President of the United States is absolutely irrelevant to his personal liability to prosecution in Canada, according to principles established at Nuremberg and universally recognized since then, including by the British House of Lords in the Pinochet case in 1999. And if President Bush were to visit Canada after leaving office, we would be seeking the Attorney General’s permission under section 9 of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act and section 7 of the Criminal Code to commence proceedings against him.

However, as you also know, should President Bush come to Canada now, while still President, he would be clothed with both diplomatic and head of state immunity from our laws and we would be powerless to bring him to justice.

Your invitation in these circumstances, therefore, shows contempt for both Canadian and international law and is a grievous insult to the literally hundreds of thousands of victims of President Bush’s international crimes. It is also our belief that the invitation endangers Canadians’ security at home and abroad, because it is a departure from our steadfast refusal to this point to participate in this criminal war of the Bush administration. In fact, it is our belief that this invitation can only act as an encouragement to President Bush in his continuing criminal activity, providing him with an important platform in this, his first post re-election foreign visit, to defend illegal US actions in Iraq and to improve his international standing despite them, all this against the wishes of the majority of Canadians.

Indeed, we feel bound to point out that your invitation to President Bush may thus constitute an abetting of the crimes he and his administration and military continue to commit. As such you and your colleagues could be personally liable to prosecution under the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act by virtue of section 21 of the Canadian Criminal Code, for crimes so serious that they are punishable in Canada by up to life imprisonment. Abetting a crime, as the Attorney General will advise, is regarded as equally criminal to actually committing it and is complete when one intentionally, knowingly, or with willful blindness encourages the commission of a crime by another.

Nor would President Bush’s immunity be capable of shielding you and your colleagues from prosecution, because, as the Attorney General will advise, the immunity applies only to foreign officials visiting Canada and not to members of the Canadian government itself. Nor does the inability to prosecute a criminal affect the criminal liability of an abettor.

It is for all these reasons we urgently request a meeting with you, the Foreign Minister, the Attorney General or your representatives in Ottawa, so that we might have the opportunity to elaborate on these matters and to persuade you to declare President Bush persona non grata in Canada, or at least to rescind this invitation, and thus to avoid implicating yourselves and Canada in the most serious of international crimes.


on behalf of Lawyers against the War (LAW) a Canada-based committee of jurists and others with members in thirteen countries.


Michael Mandel, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3.
Email: MMandel@osgoode.yorku.ca

Gail Davidson
Email: law@portal.ca



March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography