Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CSIS follies and Cannon law

Withholding information? Lying to the court? Say it isn't so.

Federal court judge Simon Noël, presiding over the Mohamed Harkat case, has just excoriated
our secret police for what appears to him to be a troubling pattern of malfeasance. It seems that CSIS witnesses may have engaged in "prevarication," and that material germane to Harkat's legal defence has been withheld by CSIS for no good reason.

In a letter to the Court, prepared by lawyers for Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, it was acknowledged that the material should have been provided to Harkat's lawyers earlier, and that CSIS' "failure to do so is a serious matter."
Noel ordered that the file be turned over to Harkat's lawyers forthwith, even though a CSIS informant is named in it.

This comes in the wake of an earlier ruling by Justice Noël ameliorating Harkat's bail conditions after a nuisance raid on his home by Border Security agents, who turned over the premises for six hours, and then seized family photographs and confidential legal documents.

In other news, Abousfian Abdelrazik has a new airplane ticket. On June 12, he is scheduled to fly home to appear before the House of Commons standing committee on foreign affairs. A civil society delegation is planning to fly to Sudan to accompany our fellow citizen home. Yet, says MP Paul Dewar, whose motion to call Abdelrazik before the committee was adopted, "Minister [Lawrence] Cannon told the committee on Monday that he is not going to issue the necessary travel documents for Mr. Abdelrazik’s return. Why is the Minister putting himself in contempt of the committee?"

I think we know the answer to that. Cannon and his Justice Department mouthpieces have already said in Federal Court that the Minister can effectively do anything he wants, and that no court has the right to challenge him. The next two or three weeks should be interesting.

You can see here how excruciatingly embarrassing this all is for the diehard conservative loyalists expected to swallow the government's story whole. I'm trying not to enjoy it, but the National Post's discomfiture is something to behold. Kudos, in the meantime, to Abdelrazik's supporters on the ground and to Dewar for keeping this issue alive.


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