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House of Commons Hansard #147 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, I have the pleasure to stand in the House and raise the Maher Arar file. If this file is not cleaned up, it will certainly be a bleak mark on Canadian civil rights.

Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen who was born in Syria in 1970. He came to Canada in 1987. After earning bachelor's and master's degrees in computer engineering, Arar worked in Ottawa as a telecommunications engineer. His wife, Monia Mazigh, has a Ph.D. in mathematics and they have two young children.

I wish to praise at this time the Minister of Foreign Affairs for his personal interest and involvement with the Arar family.

As Canadians, we know that civil rights are the pillar of this democracy that we live in and believe in. We all know there are many bleak moments in Canadian history.

Let me review a few of them: the internment of Japanese Canadians during the second world war and the internment of Ukrainian Canadians during the first world war. Between 1914 and 1920 over 5,000 Ukrainians were interned in 24 work camps across the country. There was also the Chinese Exclusion Act from 1923 to 1947. Hopefully, we can learn from history.

This week, I had the pleasure of meeting Jean-Louis Roy, the president of Rights and Democracy which is an arm's length organization created by Parliament in 1988. Rights and Democracy is an independent non-partisan organization that works with civil society organizations and governments in Canada and abroad for the benefit of developing nations. Its main focus is civil rights.

Here we are going around the world doing a great job, I must say, promoting civil rights and democracy, and at the same time we probably do not do all that we should do in this country.

That is why I believe this file is very important in the history of this country. There is no doubt that Mr. Arar was apprehended, not because he was a Canadian but because he was a Canadian of Arab descent. There is no doubt that racial profiling took place. The man was detained by U.S. immigration and naturalization officers at New York's Kennedy airport while returning alone to Montreal from a family vacation in Tunisia. He is a citizen of this country. If this can happen to Maher Arar, it can certainly happen to many other Canadians, whether they are Arab or of other ethnic descent.

I hope the government will pay attention and ensure that there is a transparent process to get to the bottom of this.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I rise today in response to the question and comments that have been put to the House by my hon. colleague, the member for Dauphin--Swan River.

I am pleased to see that the government's efforts and the efforts of Mr. Arar's wife have led to his safe return to Canada. I also want to inform the member for Dauphin--Swan River, the other members in the House and all Canadians who may be listening right now, that the government has in place a strong review mechanism for the RCMP.

Review of the conduct of the RCMP members is provided by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.

On October 23, just seven days ago, Miss Shirley Heafey, the chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, announced that she had initiated a complaint regarding the RCMP's conduct in the deportation of Mr. Arar to Syria.

Ms. Heafey has publicly indicated that the complaint requires the RCMP to report on the following matters: whether RCMP members improperly encouraged U.S. authorities to deport Mr. Arar from U.S. territory to Syria; whether the RCMP failed to discourage U.S. authorities from deporting Mr. Arar; whether they improperly divulged information or conveyed inaccurate or incomplete information about Mr. Arar to the United States and/or Syrian authorities; and finally, whether the RCMP improperly impeded the efforts of the Canadian government and others to seek the release of Mr. Arar.

For those who do not know, the commission was established by this Parliament in 1988. Its primary role is to receive and review public complaints about the conduct of RCMP members. I would like to emphasize that the commission is an independent body. It is not part of the RCMP. Ms. Heafey herself has noted that this independence is essential to ensure that the public complaint process is conducted with impartiality and fairness.

As required by the RCMP Act, the chair has referred her complaint to the RCMP for investigation. Now let us allow this process to unfold in the appropriate manner.

Once the RCMP investigation is complete, the RCMP commissioner has to report the results to the commission, including a summary of any action that will be taken by the force.

The chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP may then take further action deemed appropriate by her. There are several options available to her, including a review of the complaint based upon relevant materials provided by the RCMP, a request that the RCMP investigate further and/or provide additional information, and the chair also has the authority to further investigate or to conduct the holding of a public hearing.

The commission has indicated its commitment to make its conclusions publicly available once the process is completed.

Given the sensitive nature of police work, information provided by the RCMP to the commission for the purpose of this process must be properly held. I will conclude by saying that prior to--

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The hon. member for Dauphin--Swan River.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, I too want to congratulate the commission chair, Shirley Heafey, for starting the application of complaint.

The Arar family and friends have been demanding a full public inquiry into this case. The RCMP complaints commission has no power to impose discipline or to order compensation payment to the victims.

I read from the same page that the parliamentary secretary received from the Internet. It states that the commission chair can initiate a complaint, and the complaint has been referred to the RCMP for investigation. In other words, members of the RCMP are investigating themselves. That is kind of ludicrous.

How do we get transparency out of this process? That is why there needs to be a full public inquiry into this matter.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Madam Speaker, the answer is simple. The answer is to let the commission, an independent body, do its job. The commission has the authority to review the investigation of the RCMP of this complaint and then the commission has the authority to conduct its own public inquiry into the complaint if it is not satisfied with the investigation conducted by the RCMP. That is the first thing.

Second, one only has to look at what happened after the APEC summit where there were allegations that pepper spray was used by members of the RCMP and that there was an abuse of authority enforced by members of the RCMP. It was that very commission that conducted a public inquiry. When its report came out there was no one, not the media nor opposition members, who did not applaud the report of the commission and say that it was a fair, transparent and credible report--

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:39 p.m.)