Democracy Now's Amy Goodman Interrogated at Canadian Border

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The latest episode in the assault on free speech and civil liberties in Canada
by Kimball Cariou
Amy Goodman, the popular co-host of the well-known Democracy Now! radio show, was scheduled to speak last night (Wed., Nov. 25) at the Vancouver Public Library. She is currently on a North American (mainly U.S.) tour to launch her new book, "Breaking the Sound Barrier". The Vancouver event was organized as a fundraiser by local campus and community radio stations. It appeared about 250-300 people were in the crowd.

At the starting time of 7 pm, one of the event organizers went to the microphone to explain that Goodman would be late - she was being questioned by Canadian border guards about her beliefs and the content of her Vancouver speech. The organizers said they still hoped to begin the event at 8 pm.

An hour later, Goodman did arrive. After the introductions, she told the crowd about her experience at the border. She was driving up from Washington and Oregon with a couple of co-workers. At the border, she was taken for questioning, and the computers of her co-workers were investigated. She told us that the guard interrogating her wanted to know what she would be speaking about, and to see her speaking notes.

Goodman explained that she tends to speak without notes. In this case, she intended to begin the evening talking about the final essay in her new book, a piece dealing with the issue of US health care (or lack of it) as related to the theme of Canadian medicare and Tommy Douglas. She pointed out this essay to the border guard,  who then wanted to know "what else" she would speak about. She went on to explain that she would speak about other topics in the book, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the climate change negotiations, etc. What else, the guard kept asking. Finally, he came out with the real question - did she
intend to speak about the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and what would she say?

Goodman told the guard that she is not a sports fan or an expert on the Olympics. This, she told the crowd, simply seemed to make matters worse. But finally, she was able to get through, her co-workers got their computers back, and they made it to the library. Her presentation was excellent.

But the whole thing does raise even more frightening questions about what the situation here will be in February, when the Canadian state's Olympic security paranoia is cranked up to full intensity.  

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