Monday, April 12, 2010

Anyone remember Abousfian Abdelrazik?

Exiled for six years, Abousfian Abdelrazik returned to Canada last June after his case became a cause célèbre and a federal court ruled that the Harper government, and in particular Foreign Affairs minister Lawrence Cannon, were in clear violation of Abdelrazik's Charter rights.

All OK? Everything fixed? Not by a long shot.

Abdelrazik was in federal court today to watch the first of what may be many federal government motions intended to hack away at his pending lawsuit against his disgraceful treatment at the hands of the government and Cannon. So egregious was the latter's conduct that Mr. Justice Russel Zinn, who forced Abdelrazik's return, observed:

I find that the applicant’s Charter right as a citizen of Canada to enter Canada has been breached by the respondents in failing to issue him an emergency passport. In my view, it is not necessary to decide whether that breach was done in bad faith; a breach, whether made in bad faith or good faith remains a breach and absent justification under section 1 of the Charter, the aggrieved party is entitled to a remedy. Had it been necessary to determine whether the breach was done in bad faith, I would have had no hesitation making that finding on the basis of the record before me. [emphasis added]

Federal government lawyers were arguing this morning that the part of his lawsuit directed against Cannon himself for malfeasance in office should be struck because the court lacked jurisdiction. They will be spending the next day or so attempting to cut the rest of his suit down to size, but, contrary to earlier newspaper reports, they claim that it is not their intention to quash the action--at least, not entirely.

Meanwhile, as Gerald Caplan noted on Friday, Citizen Abdelrazik lives in a prison without walls. Because he remains on the UN "no-fly" list, under Canadian law (specifically the United Nations Act) Abdelrazik is barred from employment or material support of any kind.
In fact it is illegal to do so much as buy the man a cup of coffee.

The very fact that he walked into the courtroom today rather than arriving in a coffin
indicates that the law is being broken. And it's time for more people to do so.

The continued victimization of Abdelrazik is indefensible in a free and democratic society. On April 28, there is to be a "sanctions-busting telethon" to challenge this odious law by soliciting pledges of support. Later on, I am informed, Abdelrazik may be offered short-term employment by various organizations, again in defiance of the law. This is righteous, old-fashioned civil disobedience at its finest, and here's hoping for wide and determined participation on behalf of our fellow-citizen.

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