Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government remains in hot water over SNC-Lavalin. Even anti-bribery officials from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are “concerned” and watching the situation.
The separation from their parents and detention of children in “cages” in Texas by U.S. officials was indefensible. It was also something else: torture.
The Magnitsky Law alone should not be the last word on justice. Parliament should amend the State Immunity Act to allow civil lawsuits against foreign officials for torture. Doing so would tell the world that Canada is sincere about recognizing the “sacrifice” of victims and protecting activists.
Recent news that the federal government settled for $31.25 million with three Canadian men falsely accused of terrorist links, imprisoned, and tortured overseas, was met with some public backlash. Social media comments include variations on waste of taxpayer money, wouldn’t mind a little torture for $10 million, or why should Canada pay for a foreign country’s actions.
The federal government has tabled Bill C-59, An Act Respecting National Security Matters, its response to concerns about the extensive powers and accountability failures of the 2015 Anti-Terrorism Act, Bill C-51. Bill C-59 has its positives, including necessary accountability measures for security agencies CSIS, CSE and the RCMP. It clarifies CSIS powers; removes concerns around definitions of the crime of terrorism; introduces some safeguards for the No Fly List; and tries in part to address concerns about information collection and sharing.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Saturday tweet . For those fleeing persecution, war, and terror, Canadians will welcome you regardless of your faith is being praised around the world.
The Friday before, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order stopping refugee admissions for 120 days, and halts travel for 90 days of nationals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Syrian applications are indefinitely on hold. U.S. human rights lawyers have called this an effective Muslim ban.
Trudeau’s tweet was bold and courageous. But now, Canada must take concrete steps if it’s serious about protecting refugees.
After a terror attack on a Quebec City mosque, many Canadians were tempted to look elsewhere for explanations to Donald Trump, or to Marine Le Pen’s nationalism. But we have our own legacy of racist policies to confront.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be forced to choose whether Canada stands firm against torture, or whether Canada will be swayed by an American administration that tortures. U.S. President Donald Trump has stated repeatedly that he believes torture works. He did it again last week, even while acknowledging his defense secretary disagrees.
The Liberals campaigned on a promise to fix the problematic aspects of Bill C-51 which passed into law as the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 last year but have yet to close the deal. As the Oct. 22 two-year anniversary of the tragic shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo looms, concerns regarding the act, and accountability, remain.
In March of this year, two men died within a week while in the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency in Ontario — one in an immigration holding centre and the other in a jail. One of them reportedly committed suicide, and the cause of death of the other is still unknown. In December 2013, a woman in CBSA custody in British Columbia died in hospital after trying to hang herself at an airport holding centre; the death was not publicly reported until a month later.
Should we accommodate an Orthodox religious man’s request to avoid sitting next to a woman by asking the woman to switch her seat on an airplane? This is one of the questions that have arisen since reports on Monday that a Porter Airlines flight attendant asked a female passenger to move after a male passenger gestured that he could not sit beside the woman, presumably because of his religious beliefs.
Bill C-51 creates new laws and amends existing laws to create new powers and crimes. One of these new laws is the security of Canada information sharing act, which I will refer to as SCISA. We do not question that government needs to share information to protect against the terrorist threat. Proper information sharing as an effective and indispensable counterterror tool has been recognized by the Arar commission, the Air India commission and by the international community, particularly after 9/11 and UN Security Council Resolution 1373.
There is no question the government must keep Canada safe from terrorist activities and threats, but Bill C-51 is not the answer.
Bill C-51 is wide-sweeping in powers and gift-wrapped in rhetoric. But contrary to the messaging, it does not provide any necessary new tools to fight terrorists. We already have an arsenal of tools in the Criminal Code and other existing anti-terror legislation, which provides Canadian law enforcement and agencies with robust powers to fight terrorists. It was existing laws that successfully empowered Canadian police to thwart, arrest and charge suspects in the Toronto 18 and Via Rail terror plots. (The Toronto 18 were convicted and are serving sentences, the Via Rail suspected are currently being tried). Bill C-51 simply increases government power in ways that can threaten innocent Canadians and undermine democratic values. Below, I highlight five serious concerns in Bill C-51.
Is there a distinction between civil liberties and human rights?
Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values would ban the donning of “conspicuous” religious symbols by government sector employees, teachers, judges, and those working in hospitals and daycares. The banned religious symbols will include hijabs, niqabs, turbans, kippas, and large visible crucifixes by on-duty employees. Those providing or receiving public services will be required to reveal their faces. The stated justification for the Quebec Charter of Values is to preserve the neutrality of the state and secularism.
Who is Pussy riot and why should we care?
If you have Internet access you’ve likely heard of Pussy Riot. They ‘re a Russian female punk rock band, comprised of ten members aged 20-33, formed apparently in response to Vladimir Putin’s 2011 decision to run a third time for President of Russia, and — like punk rockers the world over since the Sex Pistols sang “God Save the Queen” in 1970s Britain — performing with eccentric and provocative theatrics and costumes accompanying biting lyrics to convey a particular message.
August 10 is International Prisoner’s Justice Day — a day now recognized around the world, but which began in Canada 37 years ago.
On August 10, 1974 a Canadian man, Edward Nalon, died in the segregation unit of an Ontario prison. The next year and every year since, prisoners across the country observed a day of mourning, refusing to eat or to leave their cells, and refusing to forget the unjust death of Nalon and also of other prisoners. Though deprived of their liberty, Canadian prisoners have shown they are not deprived of moral courage and by marking August 10 they stand up for prisoner justice — and prisoners and non-prisoners around the world have stood with them.
June 26 is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture — a day that requires reckoning.
Today we recognize the human beings who fall prey to torturers. Yearly, torturers show increasing ingenuity finding ways to inflict maximum pain and maximum suffering — with or without visible scars. A torture victim may never completely recover the “wholeness” of their lives — but they benefit from support in rehabilitation, redress and compensation, as they seek to repair and rebuild life. Too many, like Canadian Zahra Kazemi, die abroad at the hands of their torturers.
There’s been a lot of hyperbole about the UN Committee Against Torture’s recent report called “Concluding Observations on Canada.”
Many Canadians have conflicting views about Omar Khadr. Beginning with his father’s reported connections to Al Qaeda, the Khadr name has become deeply unpopular.
In Canada however, we apply the rule of law. This is why everyone, even the reviled among us, is afforded due process, fair trial, and the full protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A free and democratic society demands due process.
Wednesday was Refugee Rights Day, which got me thinking about Casablanca. There is a great — though pitiable — scene in the movie where a young Eastern European woman, Annina, confides in Rick (Humphrey Bogart), the saloon owner, prompting him to let her unsuspecting husband win at the roulette table. Why? Because she and her husband fled Nazi Bulgaria but are now stuck in Casablanca, trapped in limbo without proper travel documents.
While most media reports (including several in this paper) have focused on the economic gains that will potentially result from the new Beyond the Border agreement recently signed by Canada and the United States, privacy concerns should be paramount in the minds of Canadians.
Canadians have an opportunity to reflect on how the 9/11 terrorist attacks ten years ago, changed our country.
Prior to the attacks, we demonstrated a high level of commitment to certain core values — rule of law, due process, equality, habeas corpus, presumption of innocence, and the absolute prohibition against torture. These values lay at the heart of our Constitutional and international law obligations.
One issue that hasn’t been subject of much election discussion, but will certainly impact the lives of Canadians, is the proposed Canada-U.S. security perimeter.