by Andrew Duffy
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
Date: March 1, 2016
[PHOTO: Justin and Alexandre Trudeau in 2010. Ottawa Citizen files]
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s brother has written to a federal cabinet minister on behalf of Ottawa’s Mohamed Harkat, asking the Liberal government to continue its “sunny ways” by allowing the Algerian-born terror suspect to stay in Canada.
Alexandre Trudeau, a Montreal-based filmmaker, said he has a policy of not lobbying the Liberal government in any way, but decided to make an exception in the Harkat case because his involvement in the cause predated his older brother’s entry into politics.
In his letter, dated Feb. 27, Trudeau appealed to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to halt the unfair security certificate process and end the government’s attempt to deport Harkat.
“I urge you to use your unique position as minister, and the discretion afforded to you under the law, to exempt Mohamed Harkat from deportation and let him stay and live a productive life in Canada,” Alexandre Trudeau wrote, adding: “Make this decision of yours another shining example of your government’s commitment to sunny ways.”
The letter marks the first time that Trudeau, 42, has entered the political arena since his brother became prime minister in October.
Harkat, 47, is now fighting deportation, and has enlisted the support of dozens of high-profile Canadians in that effort.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May, former UN ambassador Stephen Lewis, torture victim Maher Arar, and Omar Khadr lawyer Dennis Edney are among those who have petitioned the government to end its ongoing attempt to deport Harkat.
Alexandre Trudeau has been involved in the Harkat case for more than a decade. In 2005, he offered to act as a surety for Harkat during a bail application. Trudeau also wrote and directed a 2006 documentary, Secure Freedom, that examined the human rights abuses that took place in the name of Canadian national security after 9/11.
The second son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau has kept a low profile since his brother took office, but he has never been afraid to take unpopular stands. A globetrotting journalist and documentary filmmaker, Alexandre Trudeau has criticized Canada’s intervention in Afghanistan and Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza; he also heaped praise on Cuba’s Fidel Castro as “something of a superman” in a 2006 essay.
Trudeau shares a birthday (Dec. 25) with his brother, Justin, and served as a senior adviser on his 2012-13 campaign for the Liberal Party leadership.
In his letter to Goodale, Trudeau said security certificates remain a “fundamentally unfair measure” since they preclude the ability of suspects like Harkat to challenge the evidence against them.
“I am absolutely convinced that at this moment, he (Harkat) poses no danger whatsoever to the public or to public safety in Canada,” Alexandre Trudeau wrote, “but rather offers a positive commitment to the life he has created here.
“Just as importantly, Canadian and international law prohibit complicity in torture, and there is good reason to believe that Mohamed’s deportation to Algeria could lead to his torture.”
The law that governs security certificates, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, gives the minister the power to stop a deportation as long as it’s “not contrary to the national interest.”
In May 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the government’s revised security certificate regime and affirmed a decision that found Harkat to be an active member of the al-Qaida terrorist network. The case against Harkat was built on 13 wiretapped phone conversations and at least two unnamed informants, one of whom failed a lie-detector test.
The case remained dormant for 15 months until, halfway through last year’s federal election campaign, the government launched deportation proceedings.
Harkat insists he will be tortured or killed if returned as a terror suspect to Algeria, the country from which he fled in March 1990 during a military crackdown on government opponents.
Amnesty International Canada has warned that returning Harkat to Algeria would put him at risk of torture since many terror suspects are held in “incommunicado detention” where they’re routinely denied access to family, lawyers and doctors.
In its annual report on conditions in Algeria, Amnesty International condemned the North African country for refusing visits by UN human rights officials investigating torture, enforced disappearances and counter-terrorism measures.
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