Groups ask for a "full and thorough" review of existing security legislation.

(Ottawa, Canada - 21/4/2004) - In a meeting yesterday night with Anne McLellan, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, a number of prominent national organizations asked for a “full and thorough” review of existing security legislation to ensure that the legislation conforms to  anada's democratic values and the rule of law.

The meeting, a roundtable discussion attended by representatives from faith, ethnic and community groups, was attended by Riad Saloojee, Executive Director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), Audrey Jamal, Executive Director of the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), Janet Dench, Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) and Adam Esse, President of the Coalition of Muslim Organizations (COMO).

The groups asked for the following

* That the three-year review of Canada's anti-terrorism legislation required by the law be full and thorough, with an emphasis on the “soft use” of the legislation by the security establishment.  “Soft use” includes the tactics and techniques used in visitations in the Canadian Muslim and Arab communities.  The groups indicated that the government’s last report was an inadequate statistical analysis of only two provisions.

* A full and thorough review of the process of issuing security certificates, which the groups argued violates fair trial standards in addition to Canada’s international human rights obligations.  Under the process, individuals are held for extended periods of time without charge, are denied a fair opportunity to see the evidence against them, face deportation from Canada to possible risk of persecution, and are unable to mount a meaningful challenge to the lawfulness of their detention.

* That the Minister wait for the recommendations of the Maher Arar public inquiry before passing C-7, the Public Safety Act.  The groups expressed concern regarding the unprecedented executive power contemplated by the Act in collecting and sharing information on Canadian citizens and others in Canada without accountability and oversight.  Concerns included the fear that the legislation would become a formal process to expedite more cases like Arar.

* That the government create an independent and accountable complaints mechanism to oversee the Canada Border Services Agency, and particularly its activities of immigration enforcement.

In a joint statement issued today, CAIR-CAN, CAF, COMO and CCR stated

“Our organizations welcome the opportunity to be part of a consultative process that aims to ensure the safety and security of Canada.  Canada is our home and we all have a moral duty to ensure that it is safe from all forms of hate, violence and extremism.

“We believe that there should be no contradiction between security and the fundamental values that we share as Canadians.  To make us truly safer and more secure, security initiatives must respect the values of humanity, transparency, accountability, natural justice and the rule of law.  

“When our security law violates these principles, is seen to be arbitrary, or catches innocent people in its net, it loses the confidence of Canadians.  It is with this concern that we ask the Minister for a full and thorough review of the anti-terrorism legislation and the security certificate process, to halt passing Bill C-7 until the recommendations of the Maher Arar inquiry and to create a complaints mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency.”


CAIR-CAN Naeem Saloojee at 613-254-9704
CAF Rula Sharkawi at 416-493-8635 Ext 22
CCR Janet Dench at 514-277-7223