Stop New Secret Trials Legislation in Canada!
Urgent Action Alert from the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada
!!!! See below for THREE ACTIONS to take: sign petition; join 7 December day of action; call-in week to MPs !!!!
Demand that Liberals, Bloc, and Conservatives NOT bring in new law to allow for indefinite detention without charge, secret hearings without the detainee or their lawyer present, draconian house arrest, and deportation to torture.
In February of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that secret trial security certificates were unconstitutional, but suspended the effect of its decision until February 23, 2008, at which time those subject to certificates can apply to have them quashed. Rather than scrap these medieval processes (which have resulted in untold suffering by those detained, their families, and the targetted community members who live in fear of being next), the Harper government waited until late October to introduce new legislation (Bill C-3) that, with one or two exceptions, is almost identical to the legislation found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The Conservatives have waited until this late date so they can create a false sense of impending crisis and speed the bill through without any substantial debate. They claim all heck will break loose unless a new law is in place. As with security certificates, such outrageous claims are based on fear and racism, and not on substantial evidence that can be cross-examined in a public forum.
No one directly affected by the process — those detained behind bars or under house arrest, their family members, their community advocates, nor their lawyers — has been allowed to speak before the Public Safety Committee, which will end an embarrassingly short period of “discussion” next week and move to finalize the bill on December 6.
The government’s proposed bill leaves in place a two-tiered system of justice in which some people in Canada are denied the right to a fair trial, even though their liberty and very lives may be at stake.
It does not meet a single one of the demands of our lengthy public campaign: like the old security certificate, the proposed draft maintains a secret trial process, denying the detainee access to the information used against them. It uses vague and undefined allegations rather than precise charges, and relies on a low standard of proof (possibility instead of fact). It permits the use of hearsay (gossip and rumour). It fails to reject the use of information produced under torture. It will continue the practice of indefinite detention without charge under threat of deportation to torture.
Legal experts who have analysed the bill have already said that it will not even pass a constitutional test, raising the possibility of further legal battles and constitutional challenges.
If it succeeds, this move on the part of the government will further entrench the use of secrecy in the Canadian legal system by institutionalizing a model (the “special advocate”) which legitimizes secret information. It will help to normalize racial profiling and indefinite detention or house arrest for people who are deemed “suspect” by the scandal-plagued spy agency CSIS.
It will help normalize increased government control and surveillance. It also leaves the door open to deportation to torture.
Rather than try and “fix” or make “less severe” a fundamentally flawed and unfair process, those working on this issue for years have been very clear: the whole system should be scrapped and, if the government has anything against those held on certificates, the individuals should be charged, allowed access to the case against them, and given a fair and open trial in court. As human beings, justice and even international and Canadian law require that their fundamental rights to life, liberty and security be treated with every bit as much respect as the rights of those who happen to have Canadian citizenship.
In Parliament, only the NDP has shown opposition to the new legislation. Only two Liberals, Andrew Telegdi and Colleen Beaumier, stood up to oppose the bill at second reading, while other Liberals (even those who have previously expressed rejection of secret trials) were missing in action.
TAKING ACTION-THREE STEPS FOR FOLKS IN CANADA, ONE STEP (SEE BOTTOM) FOR FOLKS OUTSIDE OF CANADA
We are collecting signatures on petitions and hope to have tens of thousands of names on them by February 15, 2008. Please download those petitions from www.jerome.koumbit.org/adil/en/petition, take them with you everywhere, and send them in to us once filled out.
2. DAY OF ACTION
Join the day of action on 7 December: day of community delegations to Members of Parliament in their home ridings. Members of Parliament must be held accountable! For more information or to join in, email
3. CONTACT MPs from today through to 7 December.
In the next week, we ask that you:
a. Call-in/email to demand that “Public Safety” committee members (listed below) reject the new bill and stop behaving in a manner that reflects that anti-democratic nature of security certificates by shutting down opposition;
b. Call your own MP and demand that they take a stand and vote against C-3.
A list of MPs and how they voted (or whether they were even in the House) is available at www.jerome.koumbit.org/adil/en/node/219. If your MP is an NDP-er or one of the two Liberals who have shown some backbone, please consider calling someone else on the lengthy list of shame.
Members of the Standing Committee:
Conservative: Yorkton-Melville, SK
Tel: (613) 992-4394
Fax: (613) 992-8676
Hon. Roy Cullen
Liberal: Etobicoke North, ON
Tel: (613) 995-4702
Fax: (613) 995-8359
NDP: Surrey North, BC
Tel: (613) 992-2922
Fax: (613) 992-0252
Hon. Sue Barnes
Liberal: London West, ON
Tel: (613) 996-6674
Fax: (613) 996-6772
Liberal: Oakville, ON
Tel: (613) 995-4014
Fax: (613) 992-0520
Conservative: Leeds-Grenville, ON
Tel: (613) 992-8756
Fax: (613) 996-9171
Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh
Liberal: Vancouver South, BC
Tel: (613) 995-7052
Fax: (613) 995-2962
Conservative: Oxford, ON
Tel: (613) 995-4432
Fax: (613) 995-4433
Conservative: Okanagan-Shuswap, BC
Tel: (613) 995-9095
Fax: (613) 992-3195
Bloc Québécois: Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC
Tel: (613) 992-2617
Fax: (613) 992-6069
Conservative: Northumberland-Quinte West, ON
Tel: (613) 992-8585
Fax: (613) 995-7536
Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac
Bloc Québécois: Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, QC
Tel: (613) 996-4585
Fax: (613) 992-1815
4. OUTSIDE CANADA
Please contact your nearest Canadian consulate or embassy and express your outrage that the government is re-introducing the same secret trials legislation already deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada. If you are told this is not within their portfolio, ask that the message be passed on to Ottawa.
Thanks for your support, which was responsible for forcing this issue at this country’s highest court in June, 2006. Public pressure can turn the tide again and prevent more needless years of suffering by those unjustly targetted by CSIS in this country.
Campaign to Stop Secret trials in Canada, PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0, email@example.com, (416) 651-5800,
www.homesnotbombs.ca (new website on the way)!