Join ML King Day Freedom Caravan to Stop Secret Trials, January 15-16, Toronto area

Martin Luther King Day Freedom Caravan to Stop Secret Trials in Canada

Tuesday, January 15 and Wednesday, January 16
Etobicoke, Mississauga, Brampton, Toronto, Scarborough

To join all or part of the caravan, contact tasc@web.ca or (416) 651-5800

If you have a vehicle and can help get people around during these two days, please let us know!

HOW IT WORKS
Groups of individuals will gather on January 15 and focus on west-end MPs between 9 am and 4 pm.

We will do the same for central and east end MPs on the 16th.

Each hour we will focus on a new location for a peaceful vigil,
presentation of information on C-3 (the new secret trials legislation that will be voted on at the end of January), and symbols of what MPs can use to help stop C-3. For example, former goalie and current MP Ken Dryden will be handed a “Block C-3” hockey stick to help him save the Charter, etc. Others may receive a backbone, a copy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or similar symbols.)

To join the caravan, you need to register with us by calling (416) 651-5800.

If you can only do half a day we will ensure we get you to a transit hub to get to where you need to go.

Join us for a journey that will take us to the offices of Liberal MPs throughout the GTA who have yet to show the courage of stating they will vote against Bill C-3, the new bill that will extend two-tier justice, secret hearings, indefinite detention without charge, and deportation to torture.

WHY NOW?

At second reading of the new secret trials bill, only two Liberals, Colleen Beaumier of Brampton, and Andrew Telegdi of Kitchener, voted against the bill. The rest of the Liberal caucus was either in favour of it or shamefully silent. Despite the addition of a few token amendments that in no way alter the fundamentally unjust nature of the proposed law, the Liberal Party has stated this is enough to approve the bill when it comes up for final reading during the last week of January.We beg to differ. No matter how the Liberals spin it, a vote for C-3 is a vote for two-tier justice, secret hearings, indefinite detention without charge, and deportation to torture. It is largely a copy of the same law already declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Martin Luther King Day is an excellent time to remind the Liberals (many of whom will no doubt be mouthing platitudes about the assassinated U.S. civil rights leader) of a challenge King himself posed, a challenge that goes like this:
Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?”
Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?”
And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?”
But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but you must do it because Conscience tells you it is right.”

BACKGROUND
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 Tories waited until this late date so they could create a false sense of impending crisis and speed the bill through without any substantial debate. They claimed 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. Despite hearing a few very good witnesses, the committee did not really listen to and understand what they were saying, and rushed through its approval with no substantial debate.

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 analyzed 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.

IF YOU ARE NOT IN THE GTA OR CANNOT MAKE THE CARAVAN, THERE ARE OTHER THINGS YOU CAN CONTINUE TOO BE DOING

1. We are collecting signatures on petitions (In English and French) and hope to have TENS OF THOUSANDS of names on them by February 15, 2008. Please download those petitions from
http://www.jerome.koumbit.org/adil/en/petition, take them with you everywhere (schools, mosques, churches, union halls, community groups), and send them in to us once filled out (They can be mailed to Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada, PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0)

2. Call your MP and remind them that a vote for C-3 is a vote for injustice. The NDP are solidly opposed, so please focus on Liberals, Bloc, and Conservatives.

3. Organize an action or visit to an MP’s office January 25-26 as part of our coast-to-coast days of action.

Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada

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