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Raitt-gate misses the point Add to ...

In a way that's what one of the things the courts are there for with respect to a judicial review is to protect us against when government does fail us as individual citizens or as individuals for whom the government is responsible.

Obviously the government must have something in terms of some serious concern about him given the way they're continuing to drag their feet. So I guess what the government's responsibility here to do would be to take this to the next level of court if they really feel they have this kind of problem.

But I think another problem and this is fairly serious, it really does undermine people's sense of confidence and security in the protections the government offers its citizens. I think the government, while national security issues are difficult, the government has to come out with some way of explaining to the public and be accountable to the public about why they continue not to bring him home. And why they're failing to act and to say anything on this case. They've got to say something.

JOHN GEIGER

Well John, you've been involved in public security, you obviously would have some insight into this case. Can you help us to understand the government's motives here?

JOHN MANLEY

Well of course I have no direct knowledge of what they know or believe they know about Mr. Abdelrazik himself. As Doug has said, I can only assume that they believe he's a pretty bad dude and he's got some stuff that makes them take this rather harsh view.

However, my belief is that while we need occasionally to exercise some special powers in order to deal with the threat of terrorism, we worry about terrorism because not only the physical and financial damage that it can cause but also because it undermines our institutions.

And fundamentally our institutions depend upon an approach to the rule of law that is well rooted in hundreds of years of our history which is that a person who is accused has the right to know the nature of the allegations against them and to offer an answer to those allegations before an impartial arbiter.

And as far as I can see in this case, this individual is not being given that fundamental right. Furthermore, if there is evidence against him and if some of this evidence ought to have been disclosed by him upon his initial entry to Canada or his application for Canadian citizenship, there are procedures whereby that citizenship could be revoked.

But there are procedures and he would have the right to answer those allegations. So I think this sort of case undermines public support for some of the very measures that I believe are necessary to deal with some of the current threats because they undermine public confidence that anyone and everyone will be treated fairly.

JOHN GEIGER

Jodi, there's more than a hint I think of an inevitability around the eventual return of Abdelrazik to Canada. What is to be gained by further foot dragging in this case? Is this an effort by the Conservative Government to play to its base by appearing to be hard line on matters of national security? That obviously goes against John's point. But do you think that that may be underlying this as well as their handling of the Omar Khadr situation? Is this really a political agenda more than a national security agenda?

JODI WHITE

It may be their instincts. I'm not sure frankly and if it is their instincts I mean they're going to lose on the basis of the court cases, probably in both cases. So I mean it's unfortunate in that way and I don't think a government needs to put itself in the position of being forced into doing these things, which ultimately I think we talked about this a couple of months ago where we all felt they were going to be pushed into bringing him back.

I mean for him to have the right to defend himself as John talked about, you've got to do that in Canada. You can't move on any of this unless you've got him back in Canada where these things can take place.

In terms of the government's political agenda, as I say, I'm not sure. It may be some basic instincts in terms of the climate that we've been living through on terrorism. And in terms of some things they may be hearing from CSIS about this case. But, again, that's all got to come out into the open and he has to be given the chance to defend himself. And so I think if those were the instincts they had, I don't know why they put themselves in this position of being forced into it because it was inevitable that it was going to happen.

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