Reasons To Be Proud
"That will not happen. He is a Canadian citizen." These are the reassuring words repeatly spoken to Monia Mazigh when she told the Canadian officials that her husband Mahar Arar was afraid he would be sent to Syria by the United States. In he end, he was the victim of an American rendition to Syria where he was imprisoned under inhuman conditions and repeatedly tortured for a year. During his imprisonment his wife tirelessly lobbied the Canadian government to have him released. When he was finally released Mahar Arar has very publically worked to clear his name.
It has finally happened. After the public inquiry into the circumstances of his ordeal, Justice Denis O'Conner's report completely cleared him. He was the victim of wrong doings by the RCMP, who wrongly identified him as a threat to Canadian security and knowingly shared this false information with the United States. Upon his return to Canada the RCMP conducted an attack on his character to cover up their wrong doings. Justice O'Conner recommended a financial settlement and an apology from the government.
It has now happened. Prime Minister Harper officially apologized, on behalf of all Canadians, to the Arar family and agreed to a financial settlement of $10.5 million, plus his legal expenses.
Harper's Apology 'Means the World': Arar
Previously, the Commissioner of the RCMP, Giuliano Zaccardelli, apologized, before he was fired for being less than truthful with a government committee. Parliament has also previously apologized.
Sadly, there are still three other cases of rendition by the United State of Canadians to countries that use torture, that parallel Mr. Arar's experience. These need to be cleared up promptly.
If there is to be any good come out of all this, it is that there are two reasons to be proud of this out come. The first is that Mahar Arar and his wife fought and won to clear his name and defend his civil liberties. His defense of civil liberties is a defense of civil liberties for all of us. Perhaps, the next time government employees think of violating a citizens rights they will think twice. It is too bad more of those involved this time did not lose their jobs. They are unworthy of the responsibility of upholding the law.
The second is that the Canadian government has publically apologized and come to an out of court settlement, and thereby telling all of us that Mahar Arar is completely cleared and once again should be recognized as a loyal and trustworthy Canadian, beyond suspicion.
The Arar's make me proud that he is a Canadian and that he defended his good name so relentlessly. We are all better for his efforts. Hopefully, as the years pass he will recover emotionally from his ordeal and that he will once again find employment in his IT engineering field.
Shame on the Americans for continuing to keep Mr. Arar on their watch list. They apparently think just as little of our legal and political system, which cleared Mr Arar, as Canadian citizenship that they would not deport Mr. Arar to Canada. Canadians have a right to be better treated my our southern neighbour. We certainly don't need the American Ambassator David Wilkins telling the Canadian government to mind their own business when they try to right the wrong by having Arar removed from the American watch list.
Perhaps, Senator Leahy, from Vermont will get a satisfactory explanation this week from the Bush administration for their treatment of Mr Arar.