CANADA – Champion of human rights?

REALLY?  Canada talks the talk, and claims to be a human rights’ world leader.  Friendly countries agree.  Yes, Canada advocates for people under repressive regimes, and for refugees who depend on the largesse of less than welcoming neighbours, and supports calls for democratic principles where there are few, if any.

But how well does Canada score in protecting the rights of its own citizens?  And no, this is not another prison posting.  That will resume next time, featuring the prisoner rating system’s discrimination against minorities, a human rights issue to be sure.

With this today, the focus is on Canada’s treatment of Abousfian Abdelrazik, previously referenced in “What does it take…..” from May 20, 2018, and “What’s a screwdriver?” posted October 7 in 2018.

Simply put, Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Sudanese-born Montreal resident and Canadian citizen went back to visit family in Sudan in 2003 and was imprisoned there at the request of the Canadian government who knew he would be tortured in custody.  CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) agents interviewed him there about possible terrorist links.  There weren’t any and Sudan had no interest in detaining him, claiming Canada could have requested his releasee at any time.

Sudan released Mr. Abdelrazik after a year, and he then spent six years more trying to come home, most often camping out in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum.  Canada barred him even though the RCMP and CSIS confirmed formally and in writing they had no reason to suspect he was a terrorist or a threat to national security.  Canada would not admit him until a Federal Court here ordered his repatriation.  Abousfian Abdelrazik filed a $27 million lawsuit against Canada and has been waiting over 11 years for compensation.

According to the Globe and Mail on Monday, February 15 of this year, Canada…Canadian taxpayers….have spent $9.3 million so far to fight this legal action:-

February 16, 2021

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Community Safety,
House of Commons,

Re:      Abousfian  Abdelrazik

Minister Blair:

So, here we have yet another example of CSIS behaving badly, bringing Canada’s human rights record into disrepute, disrupting the lives of the people to whom it is accountable, and costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars along its destructive warpath.

I’ve been following Mr. Abdelrazik’s journey to justice since it began.  How much more beyond the $9.3-million spent to date is the government allocating to contest its responsibility for what it did to this man? 

There will be a settlement, just as there was with Maher Arar ($11.5-million), Omar Khadr ($10.5-million), Mssrs. Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, Muayyed Nureddin ($31.5-million), Benamar Benatta ($1.7-million).  And, we have little information on the status of the claims of Djamel Ameziane ($50-million), Hassan Almrei ($16-million) and Adil Charkaoui ($24.5-million).  Why wait?  Why make us look worse than we do?  Why pay attention to Islamophobes, as Paul Champ claims?

And, why too are we not censuring the public servants who are responsible?  Why are we not holding them accountable?

Copies of this letter were sent to David Lametti, Minister of Justice and NDP justice critic MP Jack Harris.

Paul Champ is one of Mr. Abdelrazik’s lawyers.  And yes, as the letter concluded, there are Canadian public servants who are responsible for this injustice to a Canadian citizen.  Are they not accountable for violating this man’s human rights?

This is only one very public instance of Canada’s careless treatment of one of its own.  What else might there be swept under a carpet in some bureaucrat’s office, or hidden behind closed doors or high walls?

Okay, now to get back to the matter of prisons.


What’s a screwdriver?

Vodka and orange juice is one……
…..the Government of Canada is too.

….another pause in prison postings…..

“What does it take…..” from May 20 earlier this year focused on the federal government’s attempts to bedevil Abousfian Abdelrazik’s lawsuit against Canada and CSIS for its neglect back in 2003 and the years following. In it, we published a letter to Ralph Goodale.

The Justice Department walked away from a mediation session at the 11th hour and referred media to Public Safety Minister Goodale for comment. The government opted to let Mr. Abdelrazik’s action go to court, a move that “will cost us all more in the end, and looks to be a safe political option to deflect criticism of a pre-emptive settlement,” we wrote. There was no response from Mr. Goodale.

A trial date for this $27 million claim was set for September 14, later rescheduled to the 17th.

Then came a Toronto Star story late in August suggesting that “as many as 35 witnesses could appear during the eight-week proceedings in Ottawa,” including Liberal and Conservative MPs and senators. One notable exception who was refusing to testify was Peter Harder, the Liberal government’s representative in the Senate, a former deputy minister of foreign affairs. He was invoking his legal privilege as a senator to avoid appearing in court.

The article went on to underscore that while the federal government settled lawsuits against Canada for its role in the imprisonment abroad of Maher Arar, Omar Khadr, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmed Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin as examples, it had abruptly cancelled mediation talks with Abousfian Abdelrazik and his lawyers.

We sent Senator Harder a brief letter criticizing his decision to excuse himself from “the right thing to do.”

But, this Canada, our country, had a surprise for Mr. Abelrazik.

The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail published similar columns from their respective Ottawa bureaus on September 19. “Judge halts man’s case against CSIS, feds,” said the Star, complimenting the Globe’s “Judge agrees to delay torture lawsuit.”

Justice Martine St-Louis “reluctantly” decided on the previous day to indefinitely delay the trial, granting the Crown’s request for a “long-term adjournment.” The Crown argued the trial should be put off while another court undertook a “national security” review of the 5,500 redacted documents that had already been released to Abdelrazik. The judge did order federal lawyers to provide monthly reports on how the review was progressing and granted Mr. Abdelrazik’s legal team “all costs in preparation of the trial that have been thrown away” because of the adjournment.

This stall tactic is fueled by the politics of fear, and is most certainly not “the right thing to do.”

What’s a screwdriver? Look to Ottawa.

FORD & buck a beer

…….the second of two brief interruptions to the “Political malpractice” series.

If there’s anything positive to be said about Ontario’s new provincial government, it’s how easily its policies can be targeted by the majority of voters who don’t support a regressive agenda.

Mr. Ford’s “buck a beer” campaign promise is a frivolous and silly sideshow to more serious issues, but it offers an opportunity for a little fun.

We dropped him a note:-

August 7, 2018

Doug Ford,
Queen’s Park,

Re: Buck a beer!

Mr. Ford:

This is a good idea! Adding incentives to bring more breweries on board and offering the consumer a greater range of choice may increase alcohol consumption.

That’s good for you and the rest of the conservative infestation at Queen’s Park.

People won’t feel the pain when your “efficiencies” screw them.

Keep it up. It’s good for the opposition.

How could we resist?

TRUDEAU & human rights

…….the first of two brief interjections between entries of the “Political malpractice” series.

So, the Saudi crown prince doesn’t like being told his country is afraid of its citizens, treats them shamefully, and expects the rest of the world to be passively pliant. Saudi Arabia’s response to Canada’s criticism of its human rights record is simply a shot across our bow. Canada is an easy target with little to risk on either side. Our government made the right move, and we said so in a letter to Justin Trudeau, but we needed to remind him too that we live in a glass house.

August 10, 2018

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
Prime Minister of Canada,

Re: Saudi Arabia

Dear Prime Minister:

Thanks to you and Chrystia Freeland and the government of Canada for its criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. Thanks too for standing your ground.

Unfortunately, this country is not the human rights paragon in practice that it champions in principle. True, abuses in Canada are not the extremes common elsewhere, but none the less there are violations in every part of this land.

You and your ministers should stand up for the rights of all people, and that includes Canadians. Don’t hide your head in the sand and pretend we’re virtuous and angelic simply because the mandarins around you insist all’s well.

Stand anywhere in this country, move one of your feet and kick over the rock that’s under it. Take a close look.

What does it take……

………to persuade people to think?

CBC News’ Murray Brewster posted “Ottawa ditches mediation talks in $27 million Abdelrazik lawsuit” on April 17 on the network’s site.

Check out our “Omar Khadr….one last time?” from January 28. Abousfian Abdelrazik is one of the last remaining terror suspects suing Canada for wrongful detention.

As a quick review, Abdelrazik, a Sudanese-born Canadian citizen, went home for a family visit in 2003, was imprisoned there for a year, and then spent six more years waiting for Canada to allow him to return to Montreal.

He returned to Canada in 2009 only after our Federal Court ordered the government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to bring him home. Abdelrazik’s action against Canada personally names former Conservative foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon because he had refused to issue an emergency passport.

Federal lawyers approached Abdelrazik last September, asking if there was an interest in resolving the case, and the two sides met throughout the fall to set out the terms. Discussions progressed towards a mediation conference, scheduled to take place between February 28 and March 2.

But, government lawyers abruptly pulled out of the meeting, and a September 14 trial date is now set in Federal Court for the $27 million lawsuit.

“They said they could not provide us with any reasons,” said Paul Champ, Abdelrazik’s lawyer. “They were looking more at the polls than at their principles and, unfortunately, I think that’s probably why they withdrew.”

CBC was unable to get a response from CSIS, Justice or Public Safety. However, it appears the decision to withdraw one day before mediation was set to begin is a calculated political move, based on negative public blowback to other settlements, particularly the payment to Omar Khadr.

“It’s unfortunate this case wasn’t settled because – for the taxpayer – I think this is going to cost a lot more,” Paul Champ concluded.

May 4, 2018

The Honourable Ralph Goodale,
Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Re: Abousfian Abdelrazik

Dear Minister Goodale:

Justice Department lawyers recently walked away from a scheduled mediation session to settle Mr. Abdelrazik’s action against Canada and former foreign minister Lawrence Cannon. CBC News was referred by Justice to Public Safety for comment, but your spokesperson declined as the question is ongoing.

I’m a Liberal Party supporter disappointed by a number of positions the government has taken that I see as contradicting the progressive policies that put it into office. This decision around Mr. Abdelrazik is but one example. The move to let this play out in court will cost us all more in the end, and looks to be a safe political option to deflect possible/probable public criticism of a pre-emptive settlement.

That public is ill-informed, and one might hope a government with the courage of its own convictions would put some effort into educating the naysayers. It’s a missed opportunity to build support for the difficult work you have chosen.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

Why don’t people get that we were in the wrong? Why don’t people get that we can settle now, or go to court, lose, and pay out “a lot more.”

Omar Khadr….one last time?

Dear Canadians: Don’t sit on your brains; it’s not becoming.

Here we go again. It seems a lot of Canadians don’t like the settlement Omar Khadr received.

Let’s keep this simple.

First, this can’t be dumped on Justin Trudeau, or the government he leads, or Stephen Harper and his team. Okay, Trudeau’s taking some heat ‘cause he’s the point person now, but the responsibility lies with government bureaucrats and agencies like our CSIS.

The bottom line is that the government could settle with Khadr for the 10.5 million it did hand over, or it could have stalled like the Harper people tried to do. It could have let the process play out, and then cough up 20, 30, or even 40 million, once costs came into play.

Why? There isn’t a court in Canada that would not have sided with Omar Khadr.

Why? We did him wrong! And, we did him wrong in a big way! Period!

We should be thanking the prime minister for saving taxpayer dollars.

Second, Guantanamo exists solely to allow the United States not to follow any of the principles defined in its Constitution or Bill of Rights.

All men held in the facility are abused and tortured by American military personnel.

Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to a crime for which there is no conclusive proof of guilt in exchange for an opportunity to leave Guantanamo behind. No American or Canadian court would have convicted him of killing an American medic in Afghanistan.

His appeal of that conviction in the United States could drag on for years, and might easily fail. The United States can’t allow one of its courts to find the country culpable for the heinous acts it permitted and still condones, and the kangaroo courts it supported. “Coming clean” would open a pathway for Khadr and dozens of other men to severely tax the U.S. Treasury.

Lastly, let’s briefly review a few of the other settlements Canada has reached with victims of the questionable behaviour in which some of our public servants engaged:-

Stephen Harper apologized to Maher Arar on January 26 in 2007 and awarded him 10.5 million for his 2002 detention in Syria.

Ahmad El Maati, Muayyed Nureddin, and Abdullah Amalki were held in Syria….and Egypt as well in the case of El Maati….for periods during 2001/2002/2003. They sued Canada for 100 million. In March of 2017, public safety and correctional services minister Ralph Goodale apologized, and gave them a total of 31.25 million.

Benamar Benatta crossed the border into the States in September of 2001, and then spent 5 years in a federal prison in Brooklyn. On December 7 in 2015, it was quietly disclosed in the annual Public Accounts that Canada has paid him 1.7 million.

Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Sudanese-born Canadian, went home for a family visit in 2003, was imprisoned there for a year, and then spent six more years waiting for Canada to allow him to return home to Montreal. As of 2015, he was suing the government but we have no information of a resolution.

Djamel Ameziane left Canada 15 years ago to visit family in Algeria, was detained by American security forces, and spent 11 years in Guantanamo until his release in December of 2013 when he was returned to Algeria. He was never charged or prosecuted, and is suing Canada for 50 million.

There may be others.

In all cases, these men were abused and tortured by their keepers. Where money has been awarded, courts and investigations in this country have found Canada complicit in their mistreatment, and deserving of compensation.

Now, can we move on?

A Hitler-esque rising?

“With this, we hope not to feel the need to bring up the topic again. There is a plenitude who recognize the danger and can rally for right.”

That’s how last year’s January 29th posting “On Trump……a word……or two” ended. Apparently, and unfortunately, Americans seem to be deer frozen in the glare of the oncoming headlights of a ‘trumptruck’ barreling toward them.

What was one of the questions asked in “Where have all the flowers gone?”
”When will they ever learn?”

Barack Obama’s warning to Americans to “pay attention” when he spoke to an audience of 2,800 on Tuesday, December 6th at the Economic Club of Chicago is a welcome relief. “The danger is [to] grow complacent. We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly. That’s what happened in Germany in the 1930s.” he said in part.

‘Complacency’ is an American watchword. When all the hoopla over the 2016 U.S. presidential election last November was over, only about 55.5% of the voting age population bothered to cast a ballot. Why didn’t we hear more about that? Well, the last time voter turnout hit 60% in the States was in 1968 when Richard Nixon was first elected. This has been the country’s pro forma for the last century, and makes the United States vulnerable to the fringe crazies.

In the meantime, Canadian media recently noted that Donald Trump hasn’t visited Canada, unusual for an American leader over the last many decades. When asked, the federal government simply referred to an outstanding invitation. Is that what we want?

Let’s not be silent…….

January 2, 2018

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
Prime Minister of Canada,
Office of the Prime Minister,
80 Wellington Street,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Re: Donald Trump

Dear Prime Minister:

So, while Mr. Trump has not visited Canada…..yet, your government tells us there is an outstanding invitation.

I can grudgingly accept the politically expedient relationship you have with this man. I can join the chorus of admiration for your skill in coping with the difficulties this must present. I can even condone with reservations the manner in which you approach Mr. Trump, as you would any other world leader. I can hope too that circumstances will not one day call for a comparison between you and Neville Chamberlain.

But please sir, do not expect all Canadians to be as forbearing. A Trump visit to Canada would provoke a considerable and negative reaction to Mr. Trump, and the sycophants, idiots and opportunists who surround him. I for one would welcome an opportunity to participate in such a demonstration of outrage.

Better Mr. Trump stays in Washington.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

Now, will someone please give those deer good swift kicks in the rump, shake them out of their apathetic and indifferent stupor, and let us get back to pursuits worth our while!

Stop already!

American Kelly Craft is a Republican Party donor, and a contributor to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. She’s the new U.S. Ambassador to Canada, and in a true contemporary White House smear, suggested that Canadians need to improve and be more like Americans. Her suggestion wasn’t well-received.
We don’t usually reprint newspaper items verbatim, but Robert Macdonald’s Ottawa Citizen counterpoint has appeared widely. We’ll copy it too:-

“Canada’s doing just fine, thanks.

U. S. Ambassador Kelly Craft, in her first Canadian print interview, stated, “The golden rule is we want Canadians to be as successful as Americans.”

I doubt Canadians want to be ‘as successful as Americans.’ In February, Scott Gilmore, writing in MacLean’s magazine, provided some statistics that show Canadians are already more successful than Americans. We live 2.5 years longer than Americans. Americans are six times more likely to be incarcerated. The World Economic Forum ranks Canadians as the sixth happiest people in the world. Americans are 13th.

Fifty-nine per cent of Canadians have college degrees versus 46 per cent in the U.S. Home ownership rates are five per cent higher in Canada than in the U.S. Canadians are twice as likely as Americans to move from the poorest quintile of the population to the wealthiest. And perhaps most telling for the citizens of the “Land of the Free,” the Cato Institute’s Human Freedom Index considers Canadians to be the sixth freest people in the world. Americans are way behind, in the 23rd place.

So Ambassador Craft, I suggest to you revisit your Golden Rule. Instead, during your appointment as Ambassador to Canada, you should try to help your citizens be as successful as Canadians. As helpful Canadians, we would be happy to show you how.”

We added a comment of our own:-

January 2, 2018

The Honourable Kelly Craft, Ambassador,
U.S. Embassy, Ottawa,
490 Sussex Drive,
Ottawa, ON K1N 1G8

Re: “Canada’s doing just fine, thanks”


A Canadian expat living in Los Angeles for the last 35 years sent me Robert Macdonald’s Ottawa Citizen piece responding to your comment about wanting Canadians to be as successful as Americans. I’m sure your staff has put this in front of you.

Mr. Macdonald is succinct. I would only add that at this particular point in your country’s history, the very best thing about being a Canadian is that I’m not an American.

I wish you and your fellow U.S. citizens the best of good fortune. You’ll need it.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

What in hell is going into the drinking water in the United States?

U.S. Sovereignty……..

……in Canada

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association has sounded the alarm over the provisions in Bill C-23, which is now in the Senate. The BCCLA has a point.

The 1974 Preclearance Act makes travel easier when U.S. Customs is cleared at Canadian airports before departure. There’s no question that passengers going through the process are still on Canadian soil, in Canadian territory, and retain all the associated rights and benefits.

Bill 23 will expand preclearance areas and broaden the powers of U.S. border agents within those areas.

Right now, a person can exit a preclearance area at any time, but Bill 23 would authorize U.S. border guards to detain and question people who make that choice. Further, U.S. agents would be able to strip search a traveler if Canadian guards are not available, or if Canadian guards refuse to conduct a strip search.

What’s more, there appears to be no measure in the new legislation to hold U.S. guards accountable for their decisions.

The BCCLA made a submission to Parliament on this bill back in June and some changes were made, but the three concerns around detention, strip searches, and a lack of accountability are still in place. The association wants Canadians to contact Ottawa to express displeasure. But, most Canadians have no idea these changes are in the works, and there’s not likely to be any outpouring of outrage.

The federal government may have acquiesced to American demands for greater border security, and it isn’t hiding the thrust of this bill. It’s just not running it up the flagpole for a broad scrutiny.

Too bad for us.

Gotta minute? (21)

The path to justice is strewn with the wreckage of abandoned lawsuits.

…… from observing the experiences of complainants who are so beaten down by the aggression of a tax-dollar funded opposing bureaucracy that walking away from a just cause becomes a painful option, reluctantly taken.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the confederation of the Canadian colonies, how about our governments own up and do what is right, without prodding?