With the support of the Liberals, the Harper government is trying to rush a bill through the Senate that would put security certificates back into Canada's anti-terror lexicon as a legitimate means of apprehending and deporting people suspected of being threats to national security.
The security certificate is a citizenship and immigration process that was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada on Feb. 23, 2007, because it involves secret hearings and because it denies the suspects the ability to know and to meet the cases against them. At the time of the ruling, five Muslim men had been in detention, or under house arrest, without charge for a combined 26 years.
Considering the gross and numerous errors committed by the RCMP and CSIS now in the public domain, and the new CIA testimony that a full quarter of its Al Qaeda-related human intelligence has been acquired through torture, it is particularly unfair to deny these five men the ability to fully defend themselves against potentially faulty intelligence conclusions.
The Conservative government's Bill C-3, which passed the House of Commons in a 196-71 vote last Wednesday and is currently being debated by a Senate anti-terrorism committee, re-introduces this perverse security certificate process virtually untouched beyond the inclusion into the hearings of a "special advocate" who would have access to the so-called evidence but who would still not be allowed to share it with the suspect.
Although the "special advocates" would be able to challenge the intelligence report, they would not be able to cross-examine the source of this intelligence, for instance a detainee in a foreign jail or an agent from another government.
In other words, Bill C-3 sustains a two-tier justice system in Canada – with one set of rights for citizens and another, reduced set of rights for non-citizens. It also, strangely enough, sets up two different standards of proof with the weaker standard applied to what many people believe to be the more serious suspicion of terrorism. (MORE)
Maude Barlow is the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. Roch Tassé is the national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. Sameer Zuberi is the communications coordinator for the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations.