Currently, there are five Muslim men in Canada subject to strict controls under anti-terrorism legislation which the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional. One, Hassan Almrei, is still held in prison. All are resisting deportation, claiming serious mistreatment if returned to their countries.
The court gave the government till February, 2008, to replace the law, and on October 22 the minority Conservative government introduced new legislation to deal with the matter. This legislation will pass because the official opposition Liberals have agreed to support it.
The jduges held that the secrecy involved in allegations against the men violated their rights to a fair hearing, and the government has accepted the court’s suggestion that it provide for special advocates to be appointed to review all secret evidence and cross-examine witnesses in private. This process is currently in place in Britain, where it has been roundly condemned. The key concerns are the extent to which the special advocates can communicate with the accused persons about the information in their file and question them about the allegations contained in the secret evidence.
Once the new law is passed, it will likely be headed back to the Supreme Court to be tested. At a press conference on October 24, Mohamed Harkat, one of the five men subjected to a security certificate, told the media in Ottawa that “the new legislation will continue to violate my rights as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” Bill Siksay, New Democratic (socialist) MP, charged that the law will only provide “a veneer of respectability” for a “flawed process.”