CUPE 4600 supports Mohamed Harkat’s right to stay in Canada
April 20, 2016
The Honorable Minister Ralph Goodale House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6
March 18th, 2016
Dear Minister Goodale,
I write concerning UN Convention refugee Mohamed Harkat, who faces deportation from Canada to Algeria under a controversial Security Certificate.
I ask you to allow Mohamed Harkat to stay in Canada. He has spent most of his adult life in Canada, and has built a strong and supportive network of family and friends who value his contribution to this country, to the community, and to their lives.
I write as a representative of a union local that fights for the rights of its members who come from many different countries to contribute to the Canadian post-secondary sector specifically and the Canadian social fabric as a whole. One of the attractions of Canada is that it has many open and robust social structures that allow for different people to meet, talk, and live together.
Under a Security Certificate, Mohamed has been detained without charge and without evidence for thirteen years. Secret evidence and trials, and the threat of torture and deportation are not commensurate with the values that contribute to the better aspects of our society.
Under the law governing Security Certificates (section 42.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act) you as Minister have the power to decide that allowing Mohamed to stay in Canada is not contrary to the national interest.
I know that Canadian and international law prohibit complicity in torture, and it is possible or even likely that Mohamed’s deportation to Algeria would be a deportation to torture, or worse. Amnesty International has exposed Algeria’s poor human rights record, and I fear for Mohamed’s fate.
Since 2009 all of the assessments done by CBSA, CSIS and Federal Court Justice Noel state very clearly that Mohamed is at the very low end of risk. In September 2009, the court significantly rolled back restrictions on his freedom after CSIS said that he was not the threat they initially thought. I believe Mohamed poses no danger whatsoever to the public or to public safety in Canada, but rather offers a positive commitment to the life he has created here.
Mohamed has publicly stated that he would never do anything to let down the large circle of family, friends and supporters he has built here over the years. He has become a recognized figure across the country, and he understands how important that is to us all.
It is hard to imagine how difficult life has been for Mohamed and his wife Sophie, who have had to deal with secret allegations, separation and long-term solitary confinement, very invasive house arrest conditions that completely robbed them of privacy, and the kinds of accusations that can ruin one’s reputation and life. And yet from what I can see, they maintain a hopeful, positive attitude, believing in a sense of justice prevailing.
I urge you to use your unique position as Minister, and the discretion afforded to you under the law, to exempt Mohamed Harkat from deportation and let him stay and live a productive life in Canada.
President, CUPE 4600
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!