Sept. 22 WEEKENDER – Second Opinion: Rick Mercer only one to report on FBI and DEA ability to operate as police in Canada

Rick Mercer was the only one to rant about provisions that allow American FBI and DEA agents to operate legally as police in Canada.

“How pathetic!” I thought last year, when a survey showed that more young Americans get their news from Jon Stewart’s nightly comedy program, The Daily Show, than any other source.

“How fortunate,” I mused, are we to have the CBC, Vancouver Sun, Globe and Mail, Global, or CTV news.  They cover for Canadians all the top news stories.  They hold the politicians feet to the fire and give us such a steady diet of political ineptitude, that I was convinced we didn’t really need a Canadian Jon Stewart.

And then I saw the Rick Mercer Show on Sept. 18 and realized that in Canada too, the mainstream national news has become more interested in the tweeted opinions of Harry and Kate’s nudity than in such mundane things as the Harper government’s passage of omnibus Bill C-38.

Mercer ranted that its provisions allow American FBI and DEA agents to operate legally as police in Canada.  “What?” I thought, so I did some Internet research.

So far, the integration of law enforcement is only for maritime situations in which the Americans want to pursue crooks into Canadian waters – Canadians, of course, cannot pursue crooks into American waters.

A May 16, 2012, story in Embassy Magazine quotes RCMP Chief Superintendent Joe Oliver as saying, “We recognized early that this approach would raise concerns about sovereignty, of privacy and civil liberties of Canadians.  We said ‘Let’s take baby steps, let’s start with two agencies to test the concept, let’s demonstrate to Canadians and Americans that such an approach might work.”

The Embassy Magazine story goes on to say, “The plan to roll out cross-border policing over land is to start this summer, according to the Canada-U.S. perimeter security plan.”

This adds to the misgivings created back in 2008 when, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen on Feb. 23, Canada and the U.S. signed an agreement paving the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other’s borders during an emergency.

Also, agreements signed in July permit the sharing with the U.S. data on Canadians crossing the border.

I read the Vancouver Sun every day and watch Global News in the morning and CBC News at night, yet only Rick Mercer brought up the C-38 issue.

Then I had to research the rest on the Internet.

Of what value are the mainstream media if Canadians are going to be left on their own to seek out news stories of significance?  Without comprehensive, accessible, balanced news reporting, the average person either won’t bother, or will use questionable, biased, extreme sources that are only too common on the web.

– Jim Holtz is WEEKENDER columnist and former reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette