Good morning. I will be speaking French.
I would like to begin by thanking you for giving me this opportunity to address honourable members of the Committee. Before I actually discuss Bill C-3, I would like to introduce myself. If you read the CSIS report, you will see that I am depicted as a monster, a dangerous terrorist, a member of al-Qaeda, someone that needs to be controlled, handcuffed, and placed in a cell, a cage. Those comments are ones you may have heard over past months and years.
I am truly delighted to have this opportunity to give you the other side of the story. Indeed, if you only believe what CSIS is saying, with all the propaganda that is out there against the Muslim community, and particularly immigrants who do not benefit from the full protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there is the possibility that abuse can occur, as the Supreme Court stated, in its ruling on the Charkaoui, Harkat and Almrei case.
I was born in Morocco in 1973 into a family with two children; I have a sister. In 1995, we decided to immigrate to Canada—my father, my mother, who live here, and my sister. For me, Canada has always been a dream: the dream of living my life in French, because I am Francophone, and living in a multicultural country that respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Morocco, I studied French literature. So, I am a supporter of the values embodied in the French Revolution.
When I came to this country, I did not expect to be treated this way. I was treated like an animal, a savage, which I am not. We arrived here in 1995 and I began studying French literature at the University of Montreal. I was here, not as a Canadian citizen, because I did not yet have that status, but as a permanent resident.
When Mr. Stockwell Day stands up and asserts, at every possible opportunity, that we are foreigners, terrorists and dangerous people, that is absolutely false. It's propaganda. I am not a terrorist. I have never been charged with anything under the Criminal Code. I have never committed a crime. Mr. Stockwell Day's allegations are therefore false. I am an honest citizen and I have nothing to reproach myself with. If the government claims—and I'm talking about CSIS—that I am a terrorist, well, they have the courts. They can charge me and introduce their evidence.
In 1995, I arrived here with my parents dreaming of a better world, of a country where I could live and build my future. Today I am married, with three children—two girls and a boy—who are all Canadian. My parents are Canadian. I am a permanent resident. I am not a foreigner; I did not land in Canada by parachute; I was selected. I demonstrated that I had no criminal record: Interpol did an investigation. So, when I came to Canada, I did not come as a dangerous enemy, but rather, as a permanent resident.
I completed my university studies and began to work as a teacher. I applied for Canadian citizenship in 1999 and attended a security interview in the offices of Immigration Canada.
What is striking is that I am here today speaking to you as members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and not the Committee on Immigration. What the security certificate tells us is that there have to be two systems: one for immigrants and the other for citizens.
This legislation, Bill C-3, really changes nothing, other than making a few cosmetic changes, such as adding the special advocate, who will not have solicitor-client privilege and will not be able to defend me—really just a clown. As far as I'm concerned, the special advocate is a clown. As I see it, there is no circus and no clown. I don't want a circus; I simply want a fair trial.
When I got to the offices of Immigration Canada, I was asked to go up. I met with CSIS. I was asked questions about my religion, my prayers and the mosque. I am not a fundamentalist, I am not an extremist, but I was asked questions about my values, what I thought of the Palestinian conflict, and what I thought of Saddam Hussein. Those questions have nothing to do with Canadian citizenship.
I told them that I was not a terrorist and that I thought Palestine was occupied. Indeed, that land is actually referred to as the “occupied territories”. I told them that I was against terrorism and violence.
In 1999, I was asked to become a CSIS informant and rat on my own community. I refused. CSIS hasn't left me alone since. That was in 1999. It is now 2007, and I am still subject to retaliation from CSIS.
Unfortunately, Bill C-3 cannot protect me against CSIS's abuse, for several reasons.
I'm going to stop talking about myself now. I only have 10 minutes, so I didn't really introduce the Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui, which does excellent work.
I will move on now to Bill C-3.
When I was arrested, I was handcuffed and put in a six by ten foot cell. Fortunately, I was in Quebec—I have said this before and I'll say it again—because the other detainees were treated like animals in Ontario. They told me: “Mr. Charkaoui, we have evidence that you fit the profile of an al-Qaeda sleeper agent”. Those were the first allegations.
I was given a 400-page document. I went through it with a fine-toothed comb in prison; I read it and re-read it. My file contained ten or more biographies of Osama bin Laden, a document on how to build bombs, documents on speeches made by Saddam Hussein and a report on weapons of mass destruction in Irak. There were 14 pages about me. In those 14 pages, it stated that Mr. Charkaoui speaks several languages: English, French and Arabic; he is a university student, is studying for a Master's degree and would like to do a Ph.D.; that he is married—marriage is just a cover, as far as they're concerned; that he has a restaurant with his family to finance terrorist activities. But there is no evidence; just vague allegations. It also said that he had travelled to Pakistan. I didn't travel to Pakistan. I have travelled all over the world, but they talked about only one trip and ignored all the trips made to the United States, Germany, Spain and Egypt. They only talked about one trip. They also talked about people I don't know, with whom I have no contact whatsoever; their names were written. They started to talk about the Khadr family, people I don't know but whose names were inserted in my file for propaganda purposes—just to scare the judge.
Judge Simon Noël detained me for 21 months because I refused to testify. As far as I'm concerned, it's a travesty of justice. There is no justice when evidence is secret, when you're dealing with a certain amount of evidence and reasonable grounds to believe, and when torture is authorized. One of the so-called informants is Abu Zubaydah. Mr. Bush recently admitted publicly that he was detained at a black site—a secret CIA prison. How can his word be accepted? Up until now, the Canadian government has used it against me, even though the court temporarily rejected it. That was the first depiction of me. I had the profile of a sleeper agent.
When I was preparing to leave prison, they changed the allegations. They said that I no longer had the profile of a sleeper agent. Indeed, the Director of Sunni-Islamic Counterterrorism—I don't know his name because it's a secret, since he is a CSIS agent—testified before the court and stated that he had no evidence that Mr. Charkaoui was a member of al-Qaeda. After my release, I took a polygraph test four times to show them that I wasn't a terrorist. They changed the allegations and said I was a member of al-Qaeda. After my release, there was another change in the allegations against me. They said I was no longer a member of al-Qaeda, but that I had become a member of GICM, a Moroccan group.
So, every time I and my lawyers came forward with evidence, to show that the allegations were ridiculous, the government—and I'm still talking about CSIS, because we're not dealing here with the government or the RCMP, but rather, CSIS—simply turned around and changed the allegations.
In terms of the evidence I was given and that was made public subsequently…