Mr. Speaker, one issue not mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, in an area where serious recalibration is necessary, is with regard to the use of security certificates in Canada. We are seeing security certificates overturned and quashed by the courts.
The latest was on December 14 when Justice Richard Mosley of the Federal Court of Canada quashed the security certificate against Hassan Almrei. Mr. Almrei had been detained on an Immigration and Refugee Protection Act security certificate since 2001 as an alleged terrorism suspect.
The most recent certificate was issued in February 2008 signed by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and the then Minister of Public Safety, who is now the Minister of International Trade. That is eight years in jail, never having been charged, tried or convicted of a crime. It is still hard to believe that is possible in Canada.
Justice Mosley, in quashing the certificate against Mr. Almrei, noted that he “was not a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe has engaged in terrorism”. That is a very serious conclusion.
However, there is another aspect of Justice Mosley's decision that is also very serious. As part of the judgment, he also ruled that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and the former Minister of Public Safety were in violation of their duty of candour to the court, noting that they had failed to provide full information on the case to the court and that they did not fully review all the information available about the case when they signed the security certificate against Mr. Almrei in 2008.
This is extremely troubling given the extraordinary circumstances of security certificates which suspend the usual process of justice in Canada. The security certificate allows for the indefinite detention without charge, trial or conviction; it withholds evidence from the accused and his or her lawyer; and it prevents even the special advocates who do get to review all the evidence from communicating with the accused about specific details or allegations. It works in camera, in secret.
Given the extraordinary circumstances under which a security certificate is used, Judge Mosley points out that the government, CSIS and the ministers signing the security certificate must present all the evidence at their disposal, even that which is unfavourable to their case. He notes that in this case the certificate was:
--assembled with information that could only be construed as unfavourable to Almrei without any serious attempt to include information to the contrary, or to update their assessment.
The judge found the ministers in breach of their duty of candour to the court. It should be pointed out that he also, similarly, found CSIS to have breached its duties.
New Democrats have long held that the security certificate process should be repealed. We feared exactly what has taken place, that the process would not be used appropriately and that due diligence would not be done, that there would be an abuse of these extraordinary powers. The government must respond to this judgment and this situation. I happen to believe personally that this matter is so serious that both ministers should be removed from cabinet and the use of security certificates should be suspended given the failures of these ministers.
Recalibration was the word used by the government to describe the need for prorogation. Serious recalibration and serious accountability measures are needed especially in light of this abuse of the security certificate process.
The Speech from the Throne provided no recalibration. It was just more of the same. There is no coherent vision of how to protect or create jobs for Canadians. The government could have made choices to ensure all Canadians benefit in an economic recovery, but it chose not to.
There is no movement to stop the corporate tax giveaway that diverts billions from lifting seniors out of poverty or helping women and children. There will be $6 billion more given to profitable corporations, big banks and big oil companies, which is especially ironic when the banks are announcing record profits.
There is no tangible commitment on climate change. The government called climate change one of the most important challenges but offered no plan to address it, other than deregulating and speeding up tar sands development and ending the role of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
There is no new commitment to public transit. The government could have chosen to dedicate 1¢ per litre of the gas tax to public transit. There is no national housing program and no new affordable housing or homelessness commitment. There was silence on health care. There was nothing significant on child care. There was nothing on pay equity and there was no commitment to fair trade. Instead, the outrageous free trade deal with Colombia is the first thing that is back on the agenda.
Sadly, this is yet another disappointing agenda from the government.