November 12, 2003
Dear Mr. Easter:
The 10,000 members of the North Okanagan Labour Council join the growing chorus of Canadians insisting that the federal government conduct a full inquiry into the Maher Arar affair.
It seems beyond belief that a citizen of our country would be held without cause by the country that is supposed to be our closest ally, be denied any legal rights and then be sent to a foreign country known for its abusive human rights practices.
And while the United States showed complete neglect for the rights of one of our citizens, our own government, at worst, was either an accomplice or did nothing to protect its citizen, or at best, was ineffective in its efforts. That is certainly the appearance anyway. Only a proper inquiry could confirm or deny this.
How a Canadian citizen could be so wrongly treated by three governments is a question that must be addressed Ñ and a half-measure inquiry, as has been proposed so far, just won't do the job.
Questions in this case must be answered, especially with similar cases also coming to light: How did the Americans get personal information on Arar that could only come from Canadian sources? Why was he not returned to his home country, which is Canada, not Syria? What, if anything, did our government do in this case? Why was our government so ineffective?
People like Arar have moved to Canada because we value and protect human rights. This and other recent cases threaten to give Canada a new reputation as a country that is not willing to stop foreign governments from kidnapping and torturing our citizens.
Mr. Easter, please don't accept halfway measures in this case. Get to the bottom of it. Mr. Arar deserves full answers and a chance to clear his name and reputation, and Canadians need to have faith that their government and its allies are not indifferent to the torture of our own citizens.