Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Urgent Action Alert Against Secret Trials in Canada

Bill C-3, new legislation authorizing secret trials based on secret evidence, is up for a final vote in the House of Commons today. In recent years, secret trials have been used in Canada to target Muslim men of colour as part of larger campaigns of harassment and profiling against their communities. Please see the urgent action alert received from the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada:

Today, Wednesday, December 12, Parliament will vote on whether to rubber stamp new legislation to allow for continued secret trials, indefinite detention, two-tier justice, and deportation to torture.

The Canadian Bar Association, the Quebec Bar Association, and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada have already stated that the legislation, Bill C-3, will NOT pass a constitutional challenge. Why, then, is the government prepared to bring in such an unconstitutional law? The Bloc and NDP have stated they will vote against. Hence, the fate of those currently subject to indefinite detention without charge and deportation to torture now sits with the Liberals, most of whom have shamefully caved in. If C-3 passes Parliament, the law will go to Senate.

Certain Liberals may be open to voting against the unjust and unconstitutional law (only 2 Liberals, Andrew Telegdi and Colleen Beaumier, voted against C-3 at second reading), so please make an effort to make a few last minute telephone calls to urge them to vote against C-3, and to ask them to speak to others in the party to do the same.

Below: list of priority MPs; model letter/talking points; link to a backgrounder.


If your MP is not liberal, you could focus on:

Omar Alghabra (613) 995-7321
Sue Barnes 613-996-6674
Colleen Beaumier 613-995-5381
Bonnie Brown 613-995-4014
Ruby Dhalla 613-995-4843
Ujjal Dosanjh 613-995-7052
Raymonde Folco 613-992-2659
Hedy Fry (613) 992-3213
Albina Guarnieri (613) 996-0420
Mark Holland (613) 995-8042
Marlene Jennings (613) 995-2251
Bernard Patry 613-992-2689
Jasmin Ratsani (613) 995-4988
Pablo Rodriguez 613-995-0580
Francis Scarpaleggia (613) 995-8281
Navdeep Bains 613-995-7784
Stéphane Dion
Borys Wrzesnewskyj

Contact details for MPs:
How the MP voted at second reading:


Dear xxx,

I urge you to vote against Bill C-3, the new security certificate law, for the following reasons.

1. A two-tiered justice system
Bill C-3 perpetuates a two-tiered system of justice, one for citizens and the other for the hundreds of thousands of permanent residents and refugees who are in the process of becoming Canadian citizens. It is based on the unspoken premise that non-citizens have fewer rights and are more dangerous than citizens, and that it is somehow justified to subject them to procedures that we would immediately condemn as unjust if used against citizens: indefinite detention based on secret allegations, denial of the right to know and challenge the evidence used to justify detention, and so on.

2. Deportation to torture or execution
As the government has repeatedly stated, deportation is the primary goal of the security certificate process. The men currently under security certificates are now branded with the label "suspected terrorist". Deporting them to their countries of origin - Syria, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco - inevitably means torture, possibly death.

In Adil Charkaoui's case, Immigration Canada's latest pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA), completed in 2007, evaluated Charkaoui to be at risk of cruel and unusual punishment, torture or death if deported to Morocco. In a decision rendered October 16, 2006 [2006 FC 1230], Justice MacKay of the Federal Court ruled that, "Mr. [Mahmoud] Jaballah faces a serious risk of torture or worse if he were removed to Egypt". On December 14, 2006 [2006 FC 1503], Justice Tremblay-Lamer of the Federal Court found that there was overwhelming evidence that Mohammad Mahjoub would face a very serious risk of torture if returned to Egypt, notwithstanding Egypt's diplomatic assurances.

3. Violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
During Public Safety Committee hearings on November 29, representatives of the Canadian Bar Association, the Quebec Bar Association, and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada expressed the opinion that Bill C-3 is probably unconstitutional:

Hon. Sue Barnes (Lib.):
For the record, I'd like your opinion, if you care to give it, of whether the bill as it currently stands would pass a constitutional challenge. I will ask each association to respond, if you care to.

Ms. Isabelle Dongier (Lawyer and Member, Citizenship and Immigration Law Section, Canadian Bar Association):
Well, according to the CBA review, the bill does not pass the charter's test right now. It definitely needs to be amended, on various accounts.

Mrs. Frederica Wilson (Director, Policy and Public Affairs, Federation of Law Societies of Canada):
I don't claim to be an expert in constitutional law, but I think there's a very serious question about whether it would pass. It does not provide the safeguards that the Supreme Court indicated would be required. Under the
circumstances, one can assume it would have a rough ride.

Mr. Pierre Poupart (Lawyer, Member of the Committee on Human Rights and Member of the Committee on Criminal Law, Barreau du Québec):
At the Barreau du Québec, our opinion is that, as currently drafted, this bill is not different enough from its predecessor to be considered constitutionally valid.

It is no small matter to vote in favour of a law which, according to leading legal experts in the field, is in all likelihood contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This implies deliberately voting for a law while knowing that there is a very strong likelihood that it violates fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter, particularly due process guarantees (s. 7) and the guarantee of equality before and under the law (s. 15). These rights are guaranteed to 'everyone', which, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly stated, includes non-citizens living in Canada.

A vote in favour of Bill C-3 also means actively endorsing the continued imprisonment or house arrest of the men currently held under security certificates for a period of several more years under a law that, in all likelihood, will eventually be judged unconstitutional for a second time by the Supreme Court.

Again, for all these reasons, I would urge you to vote against Bill C-3. If the Bill is adopted in the House of Commons, I would further ask you to encourage your colleagues in the Senate to oppose the Bill. Please send a strong message to Canadians that you are prepared to stand up for equality and human rights.

Name, address


For full background on C-3 by the Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui, see here.


Scott Neigh said...

Just a quick update...from the latest that I heard, the vote did not end up happening tonight. It is unclear exactly when it will happen now -- it could be as early as tomorrow. Another possibility is that the session might be extended and then C-3 brought forward for third reading next week. It's pretty much up to the Conservatives.

Use this extra time to keep pressuring the Liberals!

Anonymous said...

Hope I'm not too late, I sent out a whole slew of individual e-mails to all of those MPs as well as some other ones.

Thanks for keeping me posted on the status of this bill.


Scott Neigh said...

Hey Paul...glad you're finding the updates useful...and continuing to put pressure on is still very timely. As I said in the post I just put up, the Cons decided to hold off on third reading until at least the end of January, so it is more important than ever to keep the pressure on MPs, especially Liberals.