Uncanny resemblance, isn’t it? Your “values” aren’t looking too good at the moment, Mr Blaney.
Having rushed the 62-page omnibus anti-terrorism bill C-51 through Parliament, the Cons are now demanding it be rushed through committee as well. They wanted to restrict expert testimony to three Public Safety Committee meetings — with one of them taken up entirely by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney — but a successful NDP committee fillibuster has now ratcheted it up to eight.
Among the expert witnesses proposed by the NDP are former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci (Almalki, Abou-Elmaati, and Nuredinn inquiry) and former associate Chief Justice of Ontario Dennis O’Connor (Arar inquiry).
Now why wouldn’t the Cons want to hear from them?
A report in the Ottawa Citizen yesterday details new documents on how in 2001 the RCMP talked up Ottawa’s Abdullah Almalki to the CIA and Syria as a terrorist threat despite having been given CSIS intelligence to the contrary.
An RCMP memo, dated Sept. 5, 2001, generated after a meeting with Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials, said that “CSIS have not uncovered information that would lead them to believe the subject (Almalki) is doing something illegal.
“On Oct. 2, 2001, the RCMP sent a fax to its liaison officers in Islamabad, Rome, Delhi, Washington, London, Berlin and Paris, reporting that CSIS had described Almalki as an “important member” of al-Qaida. Days later, the RCMP liaison officer in Rome sent letters to agencies in several countries, including Syria, labelling Almalki as an “imminent threat” to Canada’s national security.
After Almalki was arrested and was being tortured in Syria, the RCMP helpfully sent along three pages of questions for them to ask him.”
One of the provisions of Bill C-51 allows government departments to share private information more widely.
Maher Arar was likewise renditioned to Syia and tortured based on bad RCMP intel and then RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli and CSIS Asst Director Jack Hooper tried to cover it up.
Hill Times Oct 2, 2006: CSIS didn’t want Arar returned to Canada
In May and June 2003, the Canadian government intended to send a letter to Syria indicating that it spoke with “one voice”–seeking the powerful support CSIS and the RCMP – to call for Mr. Arar’s release. But according to Justice Dennis O’Connor’s report, CSIS “was uncomfortable” with a statement in the letter that there was “no evidence” that Mr. Arar had links to al-Qaeda. The agency argued “very strongly” against a letter that it saw as sending the wrong message to U.S. authorities.
CSIS wanted to make it clear to the Solicitor General that there was ‘political jeopardy’ in signing a joint letter and that bringing Mr. Arar back to Canada was going to be a political ‘hot potato’ with American authorities,” Justice O’Connor wrote in the report, which cleared Mr. Arar.
Justice O’Connor also revealed in his report that CSIS, “for reasons of its own, preferred that Mr. Arar not return to Canada.” While DFAIT drafted its letter to argue for Mr. Arar’s release in June 2003, Jack Hooper, assistant director of operations for CSIS, called an assistant deputy minister at DFAIT to explain why it opposed the return of Mr. Arar. CSIS feared that if Mr. Arar returned with a public story of torture it could “impair” deportations from Canada to Syria, according to the report.”
Sure, let’s give these guys a freer hand to operate in secret without oversight.
Perhaps the committee should hear from Mr. Arar.
As he points out, if C-51 were in place when he was in Syria, it could have been used legally to prevent his return to Canada.
A week ago former Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Joe Clark, and John Turner plus five former Supreme Court Justices, three former Ministers of Justice, four former Solicitors General of Canada, and three former SIRC committee members expressed their dismay with the bill in a G&M editorial pointing out Justice O’Connor’s recommendations following the Arar inquiry had not been implemented. They called for greater oversight at a minimum.
In the House on Tuesday, Harper termed Thomas Mulcair’s calls for greater oversight and a full review of evidence “ridiculous”:
I would urge the committee to study the bill as quickly as possible in order to ensure the adoption of these measures to ensure the security and safety of Canadians.”
while Blaney “slammed Mulcair for ‘attacking the credibility’ of CSIS officers.”
“These people respect the law, and I call on him to present arguments, and not lies to defend his position.”
From @stephenlautens: For those of you keeping score at home:
and Reddit hub on planning Canada-wide protests.
Friday update : Open letter to Parliament: Amend C-51 or kill it
A letter from over 100 Canadian law professors. Clear concise objections.