Toronto: Faith and Politics lectures at U of T!

March 7, 2007

I just watched the Heather Hiscox interview with former CBC correspondent David Halton. Halton is in Toronto for two days giving a series of lectures at the University of Toronto on the rise of the Religious Right in US politics. The lecture starts tonight at 8:00 pm.

For tickets, contact: alumni.trinity.utoronto.ca

or phone: 416-978-2651

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Jaballah to Get Bail; Next Steps in Secret Trial Campaign; Play the “Name that Allegation” CSIS Game

March 7, 2007

SECRET TRIALS UPDATE

1. Mahmoud Jaballah To be Granted Bail.

2. Next Steps in Pressuring Government to Abolish Security Certificates

3. Play the “Name That Allegation” Game and Predict the Next Target of CSIS!

1. JABALLAH TO BE GRANTED BAIL!

Federal Court Judge Carolyn Leydon-Stevenson shocked all parties concerned today (Tuesday, February 6) when she indicated she was going to recommend release of secret trial detainee Mahmoud Jaballah even though she did not have written reasons prepared. While advising that she would be looking for “stringent” and “restrictive” house arrest conditions, she said that in fairness to Mr. Jaballah and his family, it made sense for work on conditions of release to be worked out concurrent with her writing her bail decision. A court date of March 22 in Ottawa has been set to discuss conditions, and it will likely be a good couple of weeks beyond that date until Mr. Jaballah is finally home.

Family members and supporters were pleased that Mr. Jaballah will finally be reunited with his family after almost six years of incarceration without charge. With the release decision three weeks ago of Mohammad Mahjoub (held almost seven years, though still not yet home due to government foot-dragging), this series of releases will leave Hassan Almrei, held since October, 2001, the lone detainee at Canada’s Guantanamo Bay, a $3.2 million facility with 23 staff.

2. NEXT STEPS ON ENDING SECRET TRIALS IN CANADA

Even though security certificates have been declared unconstitutional, CSIS still has a year to use them, and we have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure the government does not simply rewrite the legislation with some fancy window dressing.

On February 23, the Supreme Court of Canada found the secret trial security certificate procedure to be unconstitutional and upheld the principle of a fair trial for everyone. Unfortunately, the government was given one more year to use the draconian certificates, and those currently subject to the certificates remain either behind bars or under house arrest (despite the
fact that the process that put them in this horrific place has been ruled unconstitutional!!!).

In the coming year, there is concern that CSIS, the spy agency that is the driving force behind the certificates, will issue one or two more certificates in a public relations effort to show the government that such procedures are necessary. Now that they have their fancy multi-million dollar jail (Guantanamo North, at Millhaven), it would surely be an embarrassment if it were to sit empty.

REPEAL THE LEGISLATION

The Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada is urging people to write to Prime Minister Harper, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, and Immigration Minister Diane Finley to demand the following:

1. Repeal the security certificate legislation. Do not claim the process will become fair with the addition of window dressing such as “special advocates” or “security-cleared lawyers”, whose presence will provide nothing more than a minimal air of legitimacy to a process that has been found to be unconstitutional and inconsistent with the principles of fundamental justice. A fair trial using criminal law standards means knowing the case against you, being allowed the opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a transparent and open process, and proof beyond a
reasonable doubt.

2. Release those subject to the security certificate, eliminate the draconian conditions that have been imposed on them, and allow a process whereby they can clear their names. If the government truly believes these or any other individuals in Canada pose some kind of threat, charge them, allow them to see disclosure of the case, and carry out such a process in a fair, open, transparent court of law using the procedural safeguards and standards of the criminal law process.

3. End the effort to deport the security certificate detainees to torture in Egypt, Syria, Morocco, and Algeria.

ADDRESSES

(all can be written via snail mail c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Stockwell Day (Public Safety Minister)

Phone: (613) 995-1702

Fax: (613) 995.1154

day.s@parl.gc.ca

communications@psepc.gc.ca

Diane Finley (Immigration Minister)

Phone: (613) 996-4974

Fax: (613) 996-9749

Finley.D@parl.gc.ca

Stephen Harper

Phone: (613) 992-4211

Fax: (613) 941-6900

pm@pm.gc.ca

3. PLAY THE “NAME THE NEXT CERTIFICATE” GAME

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union
proved a scary time for agencies like CSIS, whose raison d’etre was suddenly in question. The creation of the “terror threat” allowed them to stay employed, and the use of security certificates, which kept the whole case against an individual a secret, meant that CSIS didn’t have to actually prove anything.

Given the Supreme Court’s finding that security certificates are unconstitutional, CSIS is once again in a jam. With one year until security certificates expire, CSIS will likely go on the PR offensive. It doesn’t take a genius to see that CSIS will manufacture some kind of “alleged threat” before that one year expires, in order to “prove” to Parliament that secret trials, arbitrary and indefinite detention, and deportation to torture are a necessity for the “safety of Canadians.” Further, with a $3.2 million Gitmo North facility likely to be emptied by year’s end, they need somebody to put in there.

Lest we think CSIS is not above carefully timed arrests, look at the out-of-the-blue use of a certificate last fall against a Russian “spy,” issued in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision. The guy was built up as a major threat, then allowed to go home. Some threat. But his arrest was used on numerous occasions by Stockwell Day to remind Canadians how “useful” the procedure can be.

The arrests of the so-called Toronto terror cell were suspiciously timed as well, coming only ten days before the Supreme Court hearings on security certificates. The government claimed it had an urgent need to act because its highly-paid mole had already ordered three tons of fertilizer, yet the RCMP replaced that fertilizer with a benign substance before delivery (all of which adds to the belief that much of the government’s case is bull manure). The resulting ten days of propaganda and scare headlines were most convenient as the Supreme Court readied itself to hear the secret trials challenge.

Recent headlines suggest CSIS is certainly looking hard for their next target. Will it be a Somali refugee that CSIS has reasonable grounds to believe is possibly associated in the past, present, or future with a group of people (perhaps the Islamic Courts Union) in Somalia that CSIS feels is a threat?

Will it be an Albertan of Arabic heritage who CSIS believes poses a threat to the oil sands? (After all, one of CSIS’s favourite “sources,” the much discredited SITE threat assessment website, believes this is a possibility, as reported two weeks ago. SITE is infamous for overhyping alleged threats without providing substantial evidence, and for coming up with the bizarre “connection” — long since debunked — between a group of Georgia chicken farmers and terrorism.)

Will it be some poor Middle Eastern restaurant owner who smiles when he gives you Humous, and it is perceived by CSIS as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink endorsement of Hamas?

HOW TO PLAY

Simply submit to us your one sentence idea, with perhaps a paragraph of background allegations that you think CSIS will come up with (be creative –they certainly are) and send it to tasc@web.ca

Winners will be notified by email, and publicly announced at the Toronto CSIS offices on the day following the next certificate.

Stuck on ideas? Try some real-life CSIS allegations (following examples from court documents):

One man is seen as an expert Al-Qaeda communications relay because he came to Toronto with his family and wasted no time installing a phone in his apartment. Not only that, he borrowed a cell phone during the time of his wife’s pregnancy. Not only that, he “procured” a fax machine (most of us “buy” one, he “procured” one). Finally, he had learned how to surf the internet. In CSIS’s eyes, case closed (Seriously!)

Or try the man who is seen as a threat because he got married and has kids, and was thus blending in with Canadian society.

Or perhaps the man who is shy and tends not to associate with people.

Or the guy who was suspect because he once lived in an apartment with “airline schematics” on the wall (in fact, it was a picture of a passenger airbus).

Or the guy who must be highly trained in clandestine tools of
evasion because he is cautious when he discovers he is being followed by four unmarked cars.

No allegation is too silly for consideration! Think big, think
bizarre, think wild, think racial profiling! CSIS certainly does! Having troubles? Do what CSIS does! Watch Fox News and read the National Post.

That’s where they get a lot of their ideas.

Stay in touch! Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada, tasc@web.ca,

www.homesnotbombs.ca


ACLU files lawsuits on behalf of 10 children in Hutto including Canadian boy

March 7, 2007

On Tuesday, March 6, the ACLU brought several lawsuits against DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff on behalf of 10 children detained at the T. Don Hutto facility in Taylor Texas, including the nine-year-old Canadian boy, Kevin:

On March 6, the ACLU brought several lawsuits against Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on behalf of 10 children detained at the T. Don Hutto detention facility in Taylor, Texas. The lawsuit contends that the conditions inside Hutto violate numerous provisions of Flores v. Meese, a 1997 court settlement that established minimum standards and conditions for the housing and release of all minors in federal immigration custody.

Pursuant to a contract between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, Inc. (CCA), Hutto is a converted maximum-security prison that bills itself as a “Family Residential Facility. ” While Hutto authorities maintain that “residents” are treated humanely, they are, in fact, treated like prisoners. Child detainees wear prison garb and are not allowed to wear their own clothes; they receive one hour of recreation per day and opportunities to spend this hour outdoors are very rare. Children are detained in small cells for about 11 or 12 hours each day, and are prohibited from keeping food and toys in these cells, which lack any privacy. Access to adequate medical, dental, and mental health treatment is severely limited—as a result, many children suffer from chronic ailments that worsen as they are left undiagnosed and untreated. Children are not afforded meaningful educational opportunities. Guards frequently discipline the children by threatening to separate them from their families.

The suit asks that the children are released and not separated from their families, utilizing other alternatives such as reasonable supervision that would achieve both law enforcement goals and provide humane treatment.

* Here is the CTV’s report of the ACLU’s lawsuit.

** Thanks to GDK of Hope and Onions for this CTV link and her excellent posts about Kevin and his family’s plight. She has also compiled an updated list of Canadian bloggers who have added their voices and demanded Kevin’s freedom.

My heartfelt thanks to ALL of you wonderful people!!


Canadian soldier killed in accidental shooting in Afghanistan

March 7, 2007

Another case of ‘friendly fire’?

A soldier from Nova Scotia died Tuesday after being accidentally shot while in his tent at the military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, CBC News has confirmed.

FULL STORY:

http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2007/03/06/soldier-killed.html


CBC News interview with lawyer of desparate Canadian boy in Texas detainee prison

March 7, 2007

It looks like more of the mainstream media are finally picking up the story of the ongoing ordeal of the little Canadian boy Kevin and his Iranian parents held in the T. Don Hutto prison for detainees. Kevin is getting sicker, as apparent in this interview with the family’s attorney by CBC News Tuesday morning:

‘He broke down crying’
‘Kevin has written a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper requesting help, but is “desperate and starting to lose hope,” said Brouwer.

“I talked to him last night and he broke down crying. He’s sick right now, he’s got a cold or flu. He’s got eczema and asthma, and is having more and more attacks.

“He’s stunned by what’s going on and keeps asking, ‘Why am I here, why can’t I go back home?’ — which is Canada.”

Government officials have told Brouwer the case is being considered a priority. (Emphasis mine)
….
Read full CBC News interview with Andrew Brouwer.

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2007 | 10:54 AM ET CBC News


New OCAP Calendar Available Now!

March 7, 2007

Support OCAP and Purchase Beautiful Art

Buy the OCAP Perpetual Calendar!

The OCAP Perpetual Calendar is on sale now. This beautiful compilation of art and history can be used year after year to mark important dates, birthdays, and anniversaries. It contains artwork by several celebrated political artists including Pete Collins, Shannon Muegge, Stefan Pilipa and others. All revenue from this calendar goes back into the daily work of the organization, from casework and advocacy to large-scale mobilizations for dignity, housing, and economic justice for poor and oppressed people.

They are $20 each with discounts for bulk orders.

To place orders, contact perpetual.ocap@gmail.com

or contact the OCAP Office at 416 925 6939

To see the art, visit: http://www.ocap.ca/files/perpetualbackbig.jpg

**

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

10 Britain St. Toronto, ON M5A 1R6

416-925-6939 ocap@tao.ca www.ocap.ca

**


Toronto: JOIN OCAP for International Women’s Day

March 7, 2007

Join OCAP on the International Women’s day March Saturday, March 10 12:45 pm.

Meet outside Tim Horton’s at Bedford and Bloor.

International Women’s Day(IWD)marks women’s past and present struggles for justice internationally. Any struggle for justice for women is a struggle against poverty.

OCAP’S Raise the Rates Campaign demands a 40% increase to welfare and disability rates and a significant increase to the minimum wage. The Raise The Rates Campaign was initiated in 2005, through the past two years we have begun the recovery of what we are owed from the government, by way of the special diet. The Raise the Rates Campaign is led by poor women, the real heads of poor communities and families. Join us in representing the strength and necessity of the Raise the Rates Campaign on IWD.

This year marks the 29th International Women’s day March in Toronto. The March calls for a $10 minimum wage,end violence against women,a national daycare program and end to wars.

**

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

10 Britain St. Toronto, ON M5A 1R6

416-925-6939 ocap@tao.ca www.ocap.ca