Thursday, April 30, 2009

Michael Byers Shows Uncharacteristic Grit

Tough stance on piracy out of step for Byers

Michael Byers either really doesn't like pirates or really doesn't like Stephen Harper.

Despite having previously made comments that seemed to portray Somali pirates as victims, Byers has recently made some comments that suggest he favours taking a much tougher approach to piracy.

Then again, it may not be the priacy that necessarily bothers Byers.

Byers' comments come after news that the Canadian navy is releasing Somali pirates because the Canadian government feels it doesn't have the authority to prosecute them.

"Its ludicrous for the Harper government to claim that it can't arrest and prosecute pirates,” Byers fumes. “Canada has a legal obligation under the United Nations and international law to bring pirates to justice.”

One does wonder how Byers would have the government weigh this obligation against its obligations to UN-sanctioned state building efforts in Afghanistan -- which involves a war against the Taliban that Michael Byers opposes. But that is off topic.

“Catch and release only encourages pirates to grow bigger and bolder,” says Byers, although he notes that prosecuting teenage pirates doesn't help the issue. He doesn't suggest releasing them -- and in fact doesn't seem to have much to say on how to deal with teenaged pirates.

Byers is certainly right about catch and release, and about the Canadian government's ability to turn captured pirates over to an international tribunal established in Kenya.

But considering Byers' earlier take on piracy and his constant take on the Harper government -- that absolutely nothing the Harper government does can be allowed to seem tolerable -- one has to wonder how much of Byers' recent take on the issue has to do with piracy and how much of it has to do with a simple opportunity to denounce the Harper Conservatives yet again.

At this point it's hard to tell with Michael Byers.

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