Ottawa won't rewrite terror laws

posted on October 29, 2009 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Janice Tinnetts, Canwest News
Source: The montreal Gazette
URL: [link]
Date: October 17, 2009

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says he has no immediate plans to rewrite Canada's laws for deporting foreign terrorism suspects, despite a string of cases in the nation's courts that have left the government's "war on terror" in tatters.

Despite mounting evidence that a key government tool intended to fight terrorism is losing traction, Nicholson said the government has secured some legal victories and will work within the framework of existing laws to evict non-Canadian suspects.

"We have won some, we've lost some when it comes to the whole question of security," Nicholson said in an interview yesterday with Canwest News Service.

"This is a priority with the government, and we will continue to move against people who are threatening security."Nicholson did not voice the same concerns as his cabinet colleague, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, who recently said he fears for the government's ability to fight terrorism in light of "an increasingly complex legal environment,'' in which judges are no longer deferring to the government in its efforts to deport foreign suspects.

"It raises questions about whether we can protect national security and I can tell you I am concerned," Van Loan told Canwest News Service. "I spend a fair bit of time thinking about it."

The embattled federal "security certificate" program took another blow this week when a judge quashed the certificate against Adil Charkaoui, a Montreal schoolteacher whom the government has accused of having links to the al-Qa'ida terrorist network.

Security certificates - which have been issued against five Muslim men in the past eight years - empower the government to detain non-Canadian suspects without charge and without knowing the case against them.

Charkaoui, a Moroccan-born father of three, won his liberty after federal lawyers withdrew much of the evidence against him in court - collected largely through wiretaps and foreign intelligence sources - saying it must be kept secret to protect national security.

On the approval of two cabinet ministers, the government can issue the certificates, permitting the incarceration of a suspect in "administrative detention" until a Federal Court judge determines whether he or she should be returned to his or her home country.

© 2008 - 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.