I have a seemingly unanswerable question that’s been giving me brain aches, so I thought I’d throw it out there on this fine Saturday afternoon.
Why would an ordinary, if imperfect, citizen have a file with CSIS?
The rundown: A friend of mine — and no, I’m not using “friend” as a euphemism for “I” — has been working on getting a Criminal Pardon from various ancient contretemps with the Law. His record was the kind of run-of-the-mill, young guy dumbness that falls into that weird category known as “victimless crime”, and quite historical, the last one having taken place over 20 years ago. But banal as they might be, these things have a way of stalking one through life and catching up at the least opportune moments — ie., when trying to cross the border into the Unforgiving States of America. So my friend decided to put it all behind him in an official way, by getting a Pardon.
It seemed like the right thing to do and a probable slam dunk: for over 20 years, this guy has been a regular guy with a regular guy job, regular guy house, regular guy everything, and not even a traffic ticket to besmirch his good name. But tons of RCMP paperwork, fingerprints and photos later, he’s running up against a solid wall of…here I’m inclined to say “bullshit”, but let’s call it “resistance”. The RCs told him he’s ineligible for a Pardon because CSIS has an open file on him, so shut up and go away.
What what what wait… CSIS??
When my baffled friend told me about this, it seemed so ridiculous that I couldn’t help laughing: “CSIS has a file on YOU? Geez, I told you to erase bin Laden from your speed dial…” etc. Good times.
Thinking the RCMP must surely be mistaken, my friend took it to his MP, who ultimately came back with the same answer: CSIS file, shut up, go away.
This time there was no joking about it.
So okay, this guy was no angel when he was younger, but none of his legal altercations were what anyone would think of as Crimes serious enough to warrant the attention of CSIS. Frustratingly, CSIS won’t even tell the RCMP, let alone the subject of a file, what they’ve got on them or why they’ve got it or anything else about the file. All anyone is allowed to know is that the file exists, and even that information is only forthcoming under duress. Most people never find out about it until they try to cross the border to buy cheap cheese in Seattle.
Apart from concern for my buddy’s rapidly diminishing prospects for a Pardon, this also makes me wonder what other kinds of ordinary-if-imperfect citizens CSIS is keeping files on… citizens who’ve done nothing more exciting than maybe, oh, I don’t know… get falsely arrested while exercising their democratic right to protest?
If anyone has any ideas about this, I’d love to hear them… “anyone” including any CSIS peeps that might surf on through (I linked to you for a reason, dumbasses). Meanwhile, I think I’ll grab another sweater — this whole thing gives me that chilling “boot stamping on a human face forever” kind of feeling.