Friday, November 7, 2008

Measuring the impact of the policy

To critically analyze this policy, it will be important to adopt a humanist perspective to the research. The policy is ostensibly aimed at achieving security by preventing terrorist attacks, but as we have examined on this blog, it’s impacts are otherwise. This policy may contribute to preventing terrorist attacks, but it does not address terrorism by all people, and furthermore, it has grossly negative effects against certain groups of people.

Positivist research is not appropriate to the review, because it obscures the political nature of the research. It pretends to be value neutral, while humanist researchers put their values on the table for review. Since their underlying values are in the open, the assumptions they make are open for discussion and interrogation. In adopting a humanist perspective, the researchers will be able to examine the social construction of terrorism, terrorists, security, etc. and will allow the researchers to take a human rights based stance, rather than pretending to be neutral objective observers. It is important that the researchers ally themselves with a human rights focus to stop the abuses from continuing.

The Neilsen Task Force review in 1984 looked at how the federal government evaluates its programs, and included the recommendation that evaluations should question the program’s basic rationale. I think this is very important in reviewing the Security Certificate provision of the IRPA. We’ve talked about its apparent goals and objectives, and how the policy does not mesh with them. Were the researchers to examine the program’s basic rationale, recommendations could be made that would answer their goals and eliminate the most egregious of human rights abuses.

The negative effects to date on certain people have been justified by a utilitarian or social contract approach to society. The ends justify the means – for the greater good, some must suffer – to live in society, (some) people give up rights… Adopting a human rights approach does not support any of these philosophies. If it’s wrong, then it’s wrong – there isn’t room for justification. There is room to develop a policy that addresses the security concerns without compromising human and civil rights.

I believe these detentions have been motivated more by racism and xenophobia than any real threat to Canada, but even if there is a threat, I believe people’s human rights need to be protected while addressing it. The undesired effects of these policies otherwise will be enormous. Look at the experiences of the wrongly convicted – readapting to society after everything you believe in has been proven wrong and taken from you is a hugely difficult task. And for Canada as a whole, a society that condones abuse, secrets and torture will only reproduce and reinforce itself over the years to come creating something even more grotesque.

(Info on policy evaluation comes from Weshues, A. Evalutaing Social Welfare Policies and Programs in Westhues, A. (Ed). 2006. Canadian Social Policy Issues and Perspectives. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier University, and from class discussions around her essay.)

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