For a detailed critique of Bill C-3, which would reauthorize secret trials in Canada through the so-called 'national security certificate' process, see here.
Last week, two members of SAWO met with a senior aide to Marleau for over an hour, arguing that Marleau should not support Bill C-3. We went over our main points in opposition to Bill C-3 and to national security certificates, many of which were drawn from the brief linked above. It is clear that there are questions being raised in the Liberal caucus about this legislation but there is also strong pressure to support Bill C-3 and also to feel pleased with the entirely inadequate ammendments the Liberals have made (on the limitations of these, again see the brief mentioned above). We made some strong arguments and the staffer did take note of them. Of course, he made no commitments, and we informed him that unless we heard by Monday that Marleau was going to oppose Bill C-3 we would be going to the media and to the community to inform them of Marleau's apparent support for the legislation and to organize against this.
We have had no communication from Marleau that she intends to vote against C-3, so we have organized an action for Friday at 1 pm.
Here is the media release that was sent to various local media outlets earlier today:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SUDBURY, ONTARIO, January 22, 2008 – Sudbury needs to know: Does Diane Marleau support two-tiered justice, indefinite detention, inadequate due process, and deportation to torture, or will she stand up against them?
On January 25 at 1 pm, members and supporters of Sudbury Against War and Occupation (SAWO) and other members of the community will gather outside Marleau's office on the northeast corner of Elgin and Elm to seek an answer to this question. Along with people in communities across Canada, they will be demanding that their Member of Parliament vote against Bill C-3, the passage of which would reauthorize the use of secret trials in Canada through the so-called 'national security certificate' process.
In the last several years, the Canadian government has subjected five Muslim men to indefinite, arbitrary detention or extremely harsh house arrest conditions, under threat of deportation to torture. Under the security certificate legislation, the government can do this to non-citizens without charging and convicting them in a court of law. Instead, they face secret trials that do not require the government to tell the accused or their lawyers the substance of the allegations or evidence against them. The rules for what evidence is permitted and the standard that the government must meet are both shockingly low compared to criminal proceedings, and the right for appeal in such cases is limited. The only endpoint of such a process is deportation, an option the government has shown a willingness to pursue even when its own processes determine that the detainees are at risk of torture and death if deported.
In February 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the existing legislation unconstitutional and gave the government one year before it became invalid. Bill C-3 is the government's response. It contains some minor changes, including a provision to assign detainees a 'special advocate', with further token shifts added at the committee level in December 2007. It is these changes that most Liberal Party MPs have been citing in defending their intent to vote for this piece of repressive legislation at third reading, expected some time in the next few weeks. However, according to SAWO member Scott Neigh, "These changes are more about appearance than substance, and they leave an unjust, two-tiered system fundamentally intact."
Even with these changes, the legislation remains discriminatory, with one set of rules applying to citizens and another set to everyone else in a way that assumes that immigrants are potential 'threats to national security.' Targeted individuals must accept as their 'special advocate' a lawyer from a list approved by the government that is targeting them. They still never get to see the evidence or charges against them, and the rules under which the government-screened lawyers must operate essentially forbid them from engaging in the most routine information gathering activities that might allow false accusations to be challenged. Rules of evidence and standards of proof remain absurdly low. Opportunities for appeal remain strictly limited. And nothing has been done to change the way in which, in practice, this process has been used to target Muslim men of colour and their communities.
The Canadian Bar Association, the Quebec Bar Association, and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada have all stated that Bill C-3 remains unconstitutional and would not pass a further challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yet many MPs remain determined to vote for it.
There is, however, space for Marleau to vote against it. Liberal MPs Andrew Telegdi, Colleen Beaumier, and Bonnie Brown have publically said they will vote against it, and Hedy Fry seems to have done likewise, while others have privately committed to being out of the chamber when the vote is called.
"As residents of Sudbury, we demand to know how Diane Marleau intends to vote," Neigh said. "We are extremely disappointed that Marleau has not yet declared her intention to vote against it. Even with the amendments that have been made, a vote for Bill C-3 is a vote for two-tier justice, secret hearings, indefinite detention without charge, and deportation to torture."
SAWO is calling for the abolition of the security certificate process, fair and open trials for all currently detained individuals, an end to all deportation that might result in torture, and an end to the harassment and profiling of communities of colour and Muslim communities in Canada. To that end, they demand that Marleau commit to voting against Bill C-3.
For more information on the problems with Bill C-3, read the brief by the Coalition for Justice for Adil Charkaoui at http://www.adilinfo.org/?q=en/node/232.
Sudbury Against War and Occupation is a group of Sudbury residents concerned with all forms and consequences of war and occupation. The organization started in early 2007 to object to Canadian support for and involvement in the ongoing occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. They have also been active in supporting the struggles of indigenous peoples in North America. SAWO sees secret trials as one domestic consequence of Canada's deep involvement in war and occupation.
For more information about SAWO, please call YYYY YYYYY at XXX-XXXX. For more information about the national campaign, please call ZZZZ ZZZZZZ of the Campaign to End Secret Trials in Canada at 416-XXX-XXXX.
If you can make it, please come on by and show your opposition to this repressive legislation.
If you can't, please make time in the next few days to call the MP in your riding, give 'em an earful about C-3, and demand they vote against it.