Security questions (Ottawa Citizen editorial)

posted on September 30, 2009 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Unsigned editorial
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
URL: [link]
Date: September 30, 2009

By the time a Montreal judge gave Adil Charkaoui permission last week to cut off the tracking device that has encircled his ankle for more than four years, one of the federal government's main tools to protect Canadians from terrorism was already shredded.

Charkaoui is one of five non-Canadians accused of terrorism links who have been tracked and detained under Canada's security certificate program, and whose cases are now stalled. The program has become so unworkable that it now appears headed for extinction.

No one disputes that governments must have tools to reduce the threat of terrorism. Sometimes this means that governments must be allowed to keep information secret, to protect sources and ensure the integrity of the intelligence-gathering system. But the clumsy application of security certificates is becoming an example of how not to fight terrorism. The federal government should heed the advice of numerous jurists, most recently Beverley McLachlin, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who warned about the dangers of sacrificing human rights and charter protections in the name of counterterrorism. She alluded to tactics "... that may not, in the clearer light of retrospect, be necessary or defensible." The cases of Charkaoui and others suggest that the main effect of these tactics is to erode public trust in the government's security apparatus, which itself represents a threat to security.

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