- Stephen Harper hates everything that Pierre Trudeau accomplished as Prime Minister. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was his greatest achievement. Stephen Harper may or may not be conscious of this but he is more than willing to ignore the charter (see his law and order related policies) and that may be justified in his mind because it was created by Trudeau.
- The Liberals are the only party talking about civil liberties but with bill C-15 their record is mixed. Mark Holland is doing a great job in this portfolio.
- Stephen Harper has repeatedly failed to protect Canadians being held overseas. He has also ignored judge’s orders before. The issue of Civil Liberties needs to be covered more by the MSM as the Conservatives have a terrible record on accountability (The Budget office having no budget for example) but no one seems to be paying attention.
OTTAWA – The Harper Conservatives risk losing public faith in our anti-terrorism laws unless they explain to Canadians why powers designed to protect the public from terrorism were abused, Liberal Public Safety & National Security Critic Mark Holland said today.
Mr. Holland was commenting on the revelation that, for the second time in as many months, Canada’s spy agency was found to have withheld evidence from a federal court judge regarding the arrest of a foreign national being held on a national security certificate.
“Liberals have been clear that enforcement and application of our anti-terrorism laws must always comply with the rule of law and respect our Charter of Rights, so that no individuals or groups are subject to discriminatory treatment,” said Mr. Holland. “We now have two clear cases where CSIS failed to live up to their responsibility to share the full story with the court.”
Letters written by a federal court judge concerning security certificate hearings against Hassan Almrei show that the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service wrongly claimed that one informant had taken a lie-detector test, while failing to disclose that another informant had been “deceptive.” In May, CSIS was criticized for withholding damaging polygraph results for a key government source in a hearing against Mohamed Harkat.
“Protecting Canadians from terrorism cannot come at the cost of trampling on the civil liberties that we hold so dear,” said Mr. Holland. “We need to know why those entrusted with upholding our national security have abused their responsibility to provide the federal court with full disclosure behind the scenes.”
Under Canada’s anti-terrorism laws, foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorist activities can be arrested if a federal judge orders a national security certificate following secret hearings where matters of national security are disclosed. The discovery of withheld or incorrect evidence comes following amendments to Canada’s anti-terrorism laws made in 2008 which allows for “special advocates” to represent terror suspects in secret hearings. These amendments were supported by Liberal MPs only after guarantees were made in law that no evidence that may have been obtained through torture would be admissible in the hearings.
“The Harper Conservatives owe Canadians an explanation on why these men have been detained for so long on the basis of incomplete evidence,” concluded Mr. Holland. “People everywhere are entitled to live in peace and security, but these freedoms must never come at the expense of anyone’s right to due process and a fair hearing.”