December 12, 2006

Dec. 12, 2006: The real lesson

The real lesson to be learned from the suffering of Maher Arar
Statement by the Canadian Coalition for Democracies

Ottawa, Tuesday, December 12, 2006 – As Canadians, we are deeply distressed by the suffering of Maher Arar, whose ordeal was, in the judgement of Justice Dennis O’Connor, triggered by sub-standard police and security work on the part of the RCMP. We recognize the difficulty in compensating Maher Arar and his family for the ordeal that followed his deportation to Syria.

Certain RCMP officers made a serious mistake. The government has recognized the fallibility of its security forces by undertaking an independent investigation into how such a mistake was made. We cannot expect a democracy to be perfect, but we can expect it to recognize its mistakes, to compensate the injured parties, and to take concrete steps to prevent a recurrence.

But in dealing with the mistakes of the RCMP, we must assure that we do not press for changes that will weaken our security forces and create an advantage for our enemies. It is likely that our security forces this past June prevented thousands of Canadians from being slaughtered in a terrorist act that could easily have exceeded the bloodshed of 9/11. In preventing another injustice such as that suffered by Maher Arar, we must assure that we do not expose Canadians to damages for which there can be no compensation and no opportunity to be made whole.

The most important lesson to be learned from Mr. Arar’s case is not the shortcomings of our own security services, but the barbarism of our radical Islamist enemies who brutalized an innocent Canadian. The real lesson is the treatment of Bill Sampson, a Canadian tortured and sentenced to death by beheading in Saudi Arabia. The real lesson is the torture and murder of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi under Iran's chief prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, who was subsequently welcomed at the inaugural session of the UN Human Rights Council. The RCMP fumbled, but the real lesson is in recognizing the Islamist supremacism that threatens to do to us all what was done to Maher Arar, Bill Sampson and Zahra Kazemi.

We must not allow the tragic case of Maher Arar to be exploited by certain Canadian organizations to weaken our security forces against Islamist terror for which these organizations are often apologists. The government must assure that increased vulnerability to terror is not an unintended consequence of changes to our security procedures.

As Canadians, we believe that Maher Arar deserves justice from those who were responsible for his suffering. But Canadians likewise deserve protection from those whom we know are planning to inflict far greater suffering on all of us. Our security forces must be strengthened, not weakened, to assure that the real terrorists are defeated. [Ed's emphasis]


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