“Captain” Paul Watson’s activist career took-off in the early 1970’s as one of the early members of Greenpeace; he calls himself one of the founders, they say he’s not. Watson was an influential member of the NGO and became a member of the board of directors. The relationship went sour in 1977 when he was thrown off the board after differing with Greenpeace over tactics- the majority believed in non-violence, Watson wanted to go a step further.
Watson responded by starting the Sea Shepherd Conservation society, a Washington state registered charity that uses “direct action” techniques to interfere with the whaling industry. The group’s tactics include high-adrenaline clashes between SSCS ships and the whaler’s, launching stink bombs through pneumatic tubes, and sinking their rivals ships while they’re docked and unattended. Some critics call Watson a terrorist, others a pirate- he’s been locked up or pursued on criminal charges by at least five countries.
2015 has been an exciting year for Captain Watson. In the past six months he’s married his fourth wife, the Japanese government has requested France to extradite, and Sea Shepherd settled a $2.55 million settlement for damages allegedly caused to Japanese fishermen. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he’s recently come out with what’s either a stunningly important or tragically stupid allegation- according to a June 6 Facebook posting, the Canadian government has denied Watson his right to enter the country.
Watson began his posting saying “I am Canadian, Je suis Canadien”, then explaining how he’s a dual citizen who also holds an American passport. He then moved on to explain that despite being a citizen, he no longer holds a Canadian passport. Why? Demonstrating a well-known derangement syndrome, Watson pointed his finger at radical environmentalist’s least favourite Albertan:
“Stephen Harper took away my Canadian passport because Japan asked him to take it away.”
The Japanese whaling industry is one of SSCS’ primary targets. Watson claims his interference has stopped Japanese ships from capturing hundreds of whales. The Japanese government (and Greenpeace) has called Watson an eco-terrorist and him a wanted man.
The government’s passport revocation process makes no mention of prime ministerial directives- so there’s no way “Harper” could have taken away Watson’s passport without assistance. In all but one of the cases the decision appears to be made by a civil servant. In cases where the passport holder is “deemed to be involved in matters of, or a threat to, national security” the final decision lies in the hands of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
Watson’s next statements should ring alarm bells for anyone who is familiar who’s read the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms:
“I can still travel because I have the benefit of U.S. citizenship. But I can’t go to Canada. Without a Canadian passport I am not allowed to enter Canada because dual citizens may not enter the country with the passport of their alternative citizenship”
There are some significant problems with this statement:
1.) While the US requires Canadians & Americans to have a passport when they cross the border, Canada doesn’t actually require them- all that’s needed is proof of identity (his US passport would work) and proof of citizenship (like a birth certificate).
2.) In cases where Canadian citizens lack proof of citizenship the process is that they aren’t automatically deported- they’re instead directed to a secondary Canadian Border Services Agency officer whose job it is to verify their status.
3.) Section 6 the Charter of Rights And Freedoms gives Canadian citizens the inalienable right to enter Canada.
Shortly after Watson made his posting one of his followers pointed out his mistake. Watson quickly responded saying he’s actually been turned away from the border.
Biggest Fish Story Ever?
In the next part of Watson’s Facebook posting he goes on to explain his opposition to Bill-C51, attacking the Conservatives and the Liberals for voting for it and telling his readers they should only vote for the Greens or NDP, followed by some not so nice words to about Stephen Harper.
His final sentence makes it clear that he still wants to be a part of Canada:
“Hopefully someday I will be able to return home to a nation…where I will be free to speak, to a place where I can once again proudly call myself a Canadian.”
Watson has been accused of lying many times in the past. The most public incident was when he was accused of lying about having intentionally sunk his ship the Andy Gill. Indigenous activists have called Watson out for lying about being given an “Indian name” at (or even attending) the Wounded Knee incident in 1973. He’s also been caught changing his story in the past- names and dates have changed over time.
But, what if this story is true? A charter rights violation of this magnitude is a significant issue, if Watson proudly calls himself a Canadian then he has an obligation to fellow Canadians to take immediate action in court. Watson loves publicity, and his Facebook posting makes it clear he wants a change in government- he has a golden opportunity before him.
That said, perhaps the reason he can’t come to Canada because he’s scared we may extradite him to Japan?