Mohamed Harkat, one of the five Muslim men subjected to security certificates in Canada because of suspected links to terrorism, was arrested on January 29 and thrown into jail. The five are resisting deportation to countries where they risk mistreatment and death. Police and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) agents took him into custody while he was taking a shower, claiming that he had violated bail conditions.
Harkat must wear a tracking device at all times and is under house arrest except for limited times out of the house to visit pre-authorized places while accompanied by his wife or mother-in-law and tailed by CBSA agents. Cameras monitor the grounds of his home. His wife or mother-in-law must be with him at all times.
The apparent grounds for the claim of breach of conditions are that his mother-in-law, who has broken up with her partner, now spends much of the time out of the home. Thus, there is nothing he has done to breach the rules.
Why, then, this action on the part of the government? Its emotional impact on him and his wife Sophie, a Canadian-born Catholic, is quite predictable and not very nice. It appears that the arrest has a couple possible explanations.
On February 4, he is scheduled to be in court to request a loosening of bail conditions. The arrest may be a pre-emptive strike, to put a negative spin on the request. As well, February 23 is a critical date. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the security certificate legislation violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It gave the government till February 23 to come up with new legislation that meets the test of the Charter. Otherwise, security certificates are out the window. It may be that the government wants to do things to stir up anxiety to enable it to get new legislation through Parliament with a minimum of controversy.
In any case, this ham-fisted action on the flimsiest of pretenses appears once more to demonstrate this government’s lack of regard for human decency. Remember, Harkat is charged with no offense. And Sophie is being punished for falling in love with him.