Category Archives: Canada

Canadian Muslims harassed and intimidated by security forces

CAIR-CAN (Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations)

Presumption of Guilt: A National Survey on Security Visitations of Canadian Muslims

Executive Summary

Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Canadian Muslim community has been placed under a national security spotlight. Many Canadian Muslims have been visited by security officials – the RCMP, CSIS and police – and some reports indicate troubling tactics being used. To document those tactics, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) has conducted a national survey on the issue.


Troubling Tactics

Many of the narratives of those who were contacted indicate a trend of troubling tactics on the part of security officials.

Such tactics include discouraging legal representation, aggressive and threatening behaviour, threats of arrest pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act, visits at work, intrusive and irrelevant questioning, improper identification, informant solicitation and the interrogation of a minor.

The whole report is posted on:

Police State Canada 2010 and the G20 Summit

Police State Canada 2010 and the G20 Summit

Dana Gabriel
April 27, 2010

The G20 summit will be held on June 26-27 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre preceded by the G8 summit which will take place in Huntsville, Ontario. The secretive meetings will be attended by world leaders, finance ministers, central bank governors, along with thousands of other delegates. It will be the largest security event in Canadian history exceeding the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Downtown Toronto will be turned into a security fortress with fences, barricades, checkpoints and street closures thus greatly affecting local residents. While the G8/G20 summits will attract their share of peaceful protesters, other more radical and fringe elements may try to capitalize on the event. Agent provocateurs might also be used whose actions could then justify a police crackdown and as a means to demonize all demonstrators. The G20 summit will deepen police state measures, as well as further integrate local, provincial, federal law enforcement agencies and the military.


Security for the upcoming G20 summit will be the responsibility of theIntegrated Security Unit, “comprised of the RCMP, the OPP (in the G8 context), the Canadian Forces, Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police and other law enforcement and security experts who will work collaboratively.” Ed Boltuc, a member of the G20 planning team for the Toronto Police Service stated, “The Olympics that you saw recently in Vancouver was actually the largest security event ever to take place here in Canada. The G20/G8 surpasses that completely.” He went on to say, “There’s going to be a massive — absolutely massive — presence of police and security on the ground like you’ve never seen before.” The Globe and Mail reported that as many as 10,000 uniformed officers, along with a 1,000 private security guards will be deployed together with an unspecified number of Canadian soldiers. Foreign dignitaries attending the meetings will also have their own security detail. The federal government security costs are expected to top $179 million.

As part of the operation, a two fenced security perimeter will encircle the Metro Convention Centre and nearby hotels where delegates will be staying. The RCMP are entrusted with protecting the inner security zone which will be controlled by a 3-metre-high unscalable fence, as well as five levels of security screening. Toronto police will be in charge of the outer zone and will deal with any protests beyond the perimeter. Canadian Forces responsibilities involve, “large-scale operational planning, land and air surveillance, underwater safety and security for the venues and some logistic and ceremonial functions. Support also includes drawing on the CF’s ongoing partnership in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD).” Heightened security will begin two weeks before the summit. In order to gain access to the outer security zone, residents and workers will need to be registered or accredited. Designated free speech zones will also be put in place for demonstrators. Toronto Police have announced that they will be using an old movie studio as a temporary jail to house unruly protesters during the event.

The G8/G20 summits have become a platform for protests on issues such as social justice, anti-globalization and the environment. A government website section entitled Information for Demonstrators points out that freedoms of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are not limitless. The Criminal Code of Canada contains provisions that limit certain activities including blocking or obstructing a highway, causing a disturbance, mischief, riots, unlawful assembly, breach of the peace and others. Some of these laws could be subjectively enforced and just as government grants you rights, they can just as easily take them away. Most protesters will probably remain peaceful, but some groups and individuals might have different ideas. In the past, police have been caught using provocateurs at rallies and activists need to be mindful of those who may attempt to infiltrate their ranks and engage in unlawful behaviour. Council of Canadians spokesman Dylan Penner wants the government to promise it will not use agents provocateurs like it did at North American Leaders Summit in Montebello, Quebec, back in 2007. In advance of G20 summit, some Toronto activists have been subjected to harassment and intimidation by police. Similar tactics were also employed in Vancouver before the Olympics.

People in Toronto are already getting a taste of what to expect during the G20 summit. A recent training exercise simulated a hostage taking in the concourse level of Commerce Court, in the downtown core of the city. The operation was comprised of Toronto Police Emergency Task Force, along with private security personnel. The joint exercise was designed to train police and security guards on how to communicate through a shared radio system. During the G20 summit, private security will play an important role in crowd control and emergency response. This is part of the continued merging of the public and private security sectors. Another training exercise involved two military helicopters flying around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and then landing in front of the CN Tower. This was to test the capability of the landing area and practice transporting delegates to the venues site. These various security drills are intended to check coordinated responses and ultimately to confirm readiness for the summit. They are also used to further acclimate increased police and military presence.

More than anything, it is protests and the threat of terrorism which are used to justify these huge security operations. The deployment of the military alongside police is increasing with their roles seemingly interchangeable. Police tactics and training have become more militarized. New weapons and technology first developed for the military are often being incorporated into police departments. At last year’s G20 summit in Pittsburgh, the LRAD which is capable of emitting painfully loud blasts of sound was turned against protesters. This illustrates a more aggressive approach in trying to control public dissent. Events such as the G20 have become a testing ground for new police state measures and a trial run for a military style occupation. In June, downtown Toronto will essentially be on lockdown with rights and liberties severely restricted.



North American Police State Integration

North American Police State Integration

Although the writing style of the report of this border incident
would be great material for a very funny movie, the substance is
chilling. Gone are our lands of the free. The writer reporting this
incident is absolutely correct as he describes the new "police state
Canada" in sync with "police state USA". In effect, we are becoming
prisoners in our own countries. Here is how it is happening.

Under the SPP, the Security and Prosperity Agreement , it is Canada's
role to lead in the partnership to develop the "Smart Secure
Borders" .

The SPP was entered by Liberal party Prime Minister Paul Martin, US
President Bush and Mexican President Fox in March of 2005.
Conservative party Prime Minister Harper in March of 2006
recommitted to the partnership. It was Liberal party Deputy Prime
Minister John Manley who signed the Smart Border Declaration with US
Homeland Security head Tom Ridge in December 2001. (Liberal party
John Manley remains a leading player in the Canadian Council of Chief
Executives which is Canada's powerful corporate force now directing
our government as agreed by the SPP. See number 1 below)

On March 31 of 2006 the leaders of the three nations reported on the
next steps in their agenda of their intention to focus on five high
priority initiatives:

1. The North American Competitiveness Council- this is the "addition
of high level business input to assist government". ( Pursuant to
this term,16 corporate leaders are now installed in each country
beside the Leader to tell government what to do.)

2. Advance Cooperation on Avian and Pandemic Influenza-
"collaboration on all stages of avian or pandemic influenza

3.North America Energy Security Initiative– "a secure and
sustainable energy supply"

4. North American Emergency Management- "common approach to critical

5. Smart, Secure Borders- "to complete the following activities over
the next 24 months" (by March 2008- Connie's note- this is the date
of the stated biometric identifier and tracking device driver's
licenses in USA. Canada will follow suit but surreptitiously). Here
are the specifics agreed for completion.

* collaborate to establish risk- based screening standards for
goods and people that rely on technology, information sharing and

* Develop and implement compatible electronic processes for
supply chain security that use advanced electronic cargo information
to analyze risk and ensure quick and efficient processing at the

*Develop standards and options for secure documents to
facilitate cross border travel

* Exchange additional law enforcement liaison officers to
assist in criminal and security investigations

* Develop coordinated business resumption plans at border
crossings to ensure legitimate trade continues

(The above information on the progress report by the three leaders
was found on the Canadian government site of the SPP. The article is
titled "The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America:
Next Steps". It is dated 31 March 2006, Cancun, Mexico

Canada rules indefinite detention wrong

Canada rules indefinite detention wrong

By BETH DUFF-BROWN, The Associated Press 23 February 2007

OTTAWA – One of Canada's most contentious anti-terrorism provisions was struck down Friday by the Supreme Court, which declared it unconstitutional to detain foreign terror suspects indefinitely while the courts review their deportation orders.

The 9-0 ruling was a blow to the government's anti-terrorism regulations. Five Arab Muslim men have been held for years under the "security certificate" program, which the Justice Department had insisted is a key tool in the fight against global terrorism and essential to Canada's security.

The court found that the system violates the Charter of Rights and Freedom, Canada's bill of rights. It suspended the judgment from taking effect for a year, to give Parliament time to rewrite the part of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that covers the certificates.

The security certificates were challenged on constitutional grounds by three men from Morocco, Syria and Algeria ? all alleged by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to have ties to al-Qaida and other terrorist networks.

The law now allows sensitive intelligence to be heard behind closed doors by a federal judge, with only sketchy summaries given to defense attorneys.

The men have spent years in jail while fighting deportation orders. They risk being labeled terrorists and sent back to their native countries, where they face possible torture.

The court called this a fundamental violation of their human rights.

"The overarching principle of fundamental justice that applies here is this: Before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process," Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in a ruling for all nine justices.

"The secrecy required by the scheme denies the person named in a certificate the opportunity to know the case put against him or her, and hence to challenge the governments case," she said.

The court said the men and their lawyers should have a right to respond to the evidence used against them by intelligence agents and noted that a law in Britain allows special advocates to review sensitive intelligence material.

The Justice Department said it would have no immediate comment.

Two of the men are out on bail and remain under house arrest. Three others are being held in a federal facility in Ontario that has been dubbed the "Guantanamo Bay of the North," a reference to the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Human rights activists and lawyers for the men hailed the ruling as a victory for those who believe fundamental rights and freedoms have been overshadowed by the demands of national security since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

"This is a judgment that, quite frankly, I think we should all be very proud of, because our court has not bought into the rhetoric of national security," said John Norris, who represents one of the five. "They have recognized the fundamental importance of preserving the security of all of us, but at the same time has stated, in the clearest possible terms, that that must never be done at the expense of human rights."

Barbara Jackman, who represents another detainee, said the Supreme Court decision in no way compromises national security.

"It only strengthens our democracy," she said. "It's an indication to other countries that to detain people and mistreat them, it's not satisfactory. There are ways to provide fair hearings in the face of national security concerns."

Although the security certificates have been around for decades, their use became more contentious after 9/11, and more suspect since Ottawa used faulty intelligence in a case that led to a $9 million apology to another former terror suspect, Maher Arar.

In that case, the Syrian-born Canadian was seized by U.S. authorities in New York and sent to Syria for questioning about suspected ties to terrorists. He was held in a cell for a year and tortured before being sent back to Canada, where he was cleared by a federal inquiry of any links to Islamic extremists.

Five Arab Muslim men now stand accused of terrorist links under the certificates, and all deny any ties to terrorism. It was not immediately clear if the three men still in detention would be released, or remain jailed until the law is rewritten.

The most notable is Adil Charkaoui, 33, a native of Morocco. The former University of Montreal student and pizzeria operator was arrested in Montreal in 2003 and freed on bail under strict conditions in 2005. He is accused by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service of belonging to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, which has ties to al-Qaida and a history of terrorist attacks in Spain.

CSIS also claims Ahmed Ressam, convicted in 2001 of plotting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport, identified Charkaoui as someone he met at an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan ? a contention denied by Charkaoui.

The others are Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian native arrested in 2002 and freed on bail last year; Mahmoud Jaballah, an Egyptian who remains in detention; Mohammad Mahjoub, also from Egypt and recently granted bail, although he has yet to be released; and Hassan Almrei, a native of Syria who was arrested in 2001 and is still in custody.

On the Net:

Supreme Court ruling:

Adil Charkoui, detained 2 years w/out trial in Canada

February 7, 2005 – Montreal terrorist suspect Adil Charkaoui, who has been detained in Canada for nearly two years, testifies in court for the first time and suggests that ultra-conservative Americans were behind 9/11 for economic gain and calls the attacks the "world’s biggest conspiracy".

"A Moroccan-born Montrealer detained for nearly two years on suspicion of being a terrorist testified for the first time yesterday, suggesting ultra-conservative Americans may have been responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

"I’m not an expert but from what I read, some guy living in a cave doesn’t have the means to plan an attack against the most powerful nation in the world," Adil Charkaoui said when Federal Court Justice Simon No

Granting Diplomatic Immunity to State Terrorists in Canada

Bill C-35: Granting Diplomatic Immunity to State Terrorists
By Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade.

The Liberal government is quietly trying to pass a law that will extend diplomatic immunity to include foreign officials in Canada, even if they are known criminals or terrorists. This is being done under the cover of an innocuous-looking, so-called “housekeeping” measure called Bill C-35. This bill, to amend the “Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act,” (1) was first debated in the House of Commons on October 5, 2001. (2) By protecting foreign government representatives from prosecution under Canadian laws, Bill C-35 directly contradicts the so-called anti-terrorist Bill C-36.

Bill C-35 will also serve to consolidate and extend the power of the RCMP to thwart protests against foreign government officials who will soon be given special immunity from Canadian laws.

During the House of Commons debate, Svend Robinson, the NDP Foreign Affairs critic, speaking for his party, offered unequivocal opposition to Bill C-35. He pointed that: “the bill raises grave questions about the extent to which we are prepared to not only codify existing police powers in law but significantly enhance them. Many Canadians, including myself and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party caucus, are concerned about the growing criminalization of dissent in Canada. We have seen an alarming trend toward giving more powers to the police. Bill C-35 is part of that trend.” (ibid.)

He also criticized the bill because it is “unacceptable to suggest that an individual who is a government representative, part of a delegation to an international conference, or for that matter a world leader, should not be required to obey the law and submit to the same requirements with respect to ministers’ permits as anyone else.” (ibid.)

During the same Commons debate, Canadian Alliance MP Gurmant Grewal, critiqued the bill but indicated that his party would support the Bill if amended. He said that in the case of “a leader known to have committed human rights abuses or supported terrorism, the government would have the authority to admit him or her on political grounds, if they thought it furthered Canadian interests…. This is giving the red carpet treatment for potential terrorists, spies from other countries, criminals or even brutal dictators.” (ibid.)

Francine Lalonde, the Bloc Quebecois spokesperson, and Progressive Conservative MPs, Peter MacKay and Gary Lunn, offered their parties’ strong support for the passing of Bill C-35.

The Canadian government is creating laws to apprehend terrorists, even suspected ones, unless they happen to be known terrorists working for foreign governments, in which case the RCMP will protect them by persecuting peaceful protesters.

One will recall that before the APEC conference in Vancouver, Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy “apologised” to Indonesian Prime Minister Ali Alatas for a campaign in Canada portraying Indonesia’s brutal dictator Suharto as a criminal on a Wanted Poster. Axworthy said “It was outrageous and excessive and not the way Canadians behaved.” (3) Axworthy later assured Alatas that General Suharto that he would not suffer the indignity of being in close proximity to any protests. (4)

The RCMP’s subsequent crack down on peaceful dissent at APEC led to the Hughes report. The excessive use of pepper spray and rubber bullets against protesters at the FTAA meetings in Quebec further demonstrated that the RCMP can treat Canadian protesters as criminals in order to protect foreign officials, even those officials who preside over security forces that systematically arrest, torture and even kill their own protesters back home.

Bill-35 will help to entrench such unjust contradictions into Canadian law. The Pinochet’s of the world will soon be more confident than ever when deciding whether to attend international events in Canada. Bill C-35 will allow them to feel secure during their visit here because they’ll know that Canadian law:

  1. exempts them from prosecution for their crimes and
  2. mandates the RCMP to protect them from protesters.

Because they generally control their domestic security and legal systems back home, the world’s state terrorists have impunity from their own countries’ laws. Bill C-35 will extend that immunity from prosecution during visits to Canada.

Ironically, Bill C-35 is coming at a time when our government is very publicly pushing Bill C-36, with all of its sweeping new powers that may threaten the civil liberties of innocent Canadians. While giving much attention to this upcoming anti-terrorism law, the media has completely ignored the other new law that may be used to offer protection to foreign state terrorists during official visits.

Our government knows very well that violent and undemocratic rulers, like Pinochet and Suharto, are often Canada’s best business partners. Such rulers create the social, economic, political and legal conditions in which Canadian other foreign profiteers can thrive. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for these despots to be treated with great dignity during their visits to our country. Canadian business opportunities abroad rely heavily on unrestricted access to cheap labour and natural resources. Unfortunately, for Canadian companies, foreign workers do not always bow gracefully while working as virtual slaves in factories, mines and other Canadian-owned enterprises.

Activists in those repressive regimes, who struggle to improve labour rights, promote other human rights or protect their environment from unscrupulous polluters, are often targets of persecution. Many such activists have been arrested, tortured and killed for the crime of peacefully trying to improve their working and living conditions. That’s fairly routine in many of the violent and repressive regimes that are armed courtesy of Canadian military exporters and their friends in our Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Such countries include: Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Morocco, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela. (5)

It is no coincidence that Canada’s anti-terrorist and pro-terrorist bills are arriving at the same time. With all of the hype about new security powers designed to crack down on terrorism, there is a special need to reassure the world’s state terrorists that our government can be relied upon to protect them during their visits to Canada. The Canadian government, like the governments of its allies, relies heavily on repressive regimes to make the world safe and profitable for big business. Canadian corporations have always reaped huge rewards by exploiting human and natural resources in countries where violent military regimes rule. Violent, undemocratic foreign leaders are often seen as our country’s best friends because they ensure “stability.” They do this by tightly controlling unruly activist movements that are seeking more equitable and just socio-economic conditions. The tried and true method of making extreme profits from foreign business operations is to ensure that the governments in those countries keep close control over their dissidents.

Bill C-35 is what Canadian Alliance MP Gurmant Grewal, calls a “power grap” by Canada Minister of Foreign Affairs because it gives him the power to supercede the Minister of Immigration in order to allow foreign government officials with criminal backgrounds, to enter Canada. Once here, these foreign representatives will be protected from embarrassing protests and from prosecution.

Through Bill C-36, the Liberal government wants sweeping new powers to undermine the civil liberties of Canadians, such as allowing security forces greater ease in authorizing surveillance and the ability to carry out preventative arrests against suspects. Meanwhile, Bill C-35 means that foreign government representatives will be granted immunity from Canadian laws, including the anti-terrorist legislation.

The Liberals say that this new law will not supercede laws concerning crimes against humanity and war crimes. However, Bill C-35 would allow the government to grant special protection to foreign government officials who have committed any or all other crimes. So, as long as their crimes fall short of the most heinous international crimes against humanity and war crimes, they’ll be granted immunity in Canada. Even this is not reassuring considering Canada’s long history of harbouring Nazi war criminals.

The government’s concern that Bill C-15 may be unpopular is demonstrated by the very sneaky way in which they presented it to Parliament:

  1. the government is pretending that the bill deals with innocuous, mundane “housekeeping” matters,
  2. opposition MPs had only two and a half days to examine the bill before the first debate in the House of Commons (Oct. 5),
  3. that first debate in the House was conveniently timed to occur on a Friday when many MPs are not in attendance,
  4. no legislative summary or explanation was provided with the bill, and
  5. the government’s briefing on the bill was unsubstantial.

The Liberals know that Bill C-35 would be very controversial law, if the media were to expose it. They know that it contradicts their foreign and domestic policies, especially their anti-terrorism law, Bill-35. They know that the Canadian public has very little tolerance for the whole concept of diplomatic immunity, which allows foreign representatives to drink, drive and thereby cause the accidental deaths of Canadian citizens.

The only known media references to Bill C-35, have focused on this angle, i.e., the possibility that officials exempted under the new law may be responsible for deaths or injuries as a result of drinking and driving. (6)

One would hope that Canadians would be even less tolerant of our government’s efforts to offer legal protection to foreign dignitaries who have supported the torture, kidnapping and murder of innocent people. However, because the mainstream media may never expose the broader dangers and contradictions associated with Bill C-35, we may never know what the Canadian public’s attitude is towards granting diplomatic immunity to state terrorists.


(1) BILL C-35, An Act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act _1/C-35TOCE.html

(2) House of Commons Debate (October 5, 2001),

Text version: rlbus/chambus/house/debates/han093-E.pdf+canada+%22bill+c-35%22+diplomatic+i mmunity&hl=en

PDF version: 1.pdf

(3) Memo Re: meeting between Minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy and Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas (July 30th, 1997)

(4) Lloyd Axworthy’s letter to Minister Alatas (September 3rd, 1997)

(5) Press for Conversion!, issue #44, April 2001 Published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade


(a) Manley Moves to Boost Number Eligible for Diplomatic Immunity FindLaw, Legal News and Commentary (Associated Press article, Nov. 1, 2001)

(b) CBC Radio News, Nov. 6, 2001.

Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) (A network of individuals and NGOs across Canada and around the world)

Tel.: 613-231-3076
Fax: 613-231-2614
Web site:

Arar-related search a violation, says reporter

Arar-related search a violation, says reporter

var byString = “”; var sourceString = “ News Staff”; if ((sourceString != “”) && (byString != “”)) { document.write(byString + “, “); } else { document.write(byString); } News Staff
Fri. Jan. 23, 2004

Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O’Neill says the raid on her home and office this week has shaken her and left her worried about the state of the freedom of the press in Canada.

A team of RCMP officers descended on O’Neill’s home and her office Wednesday and searched her house for five hours. They were there to look for documents the reporter may have used in a story on the Maher Arar case, they said.

O’Neill told Canada AM Friday the police took away all the tools of her trade –her Filofax, computer, disks, and microcassette tapes. She says the early morning raid left her uneasy.

"It was quite a violation of my personal and professional space. I felt like I was watching a slow-motion robbery. I have a very tiny house and there were 10 RCMP officers in here, all crowded in," she said.

She added she found out on Thursday that she has been under RCMP surveillance for several weeks — news that has left her feeling further violated.

The RCMP said they conducted the search to look for any documents O’Neill may have used in a Nov. 8 story on the Arar case. The article cited "a security source" and a leaked secret document that suggested Arar was a trained terrorist member of an al Qaeda cell.

Arar, who was deported to Syria by the United States in the fall of 2002 and held for 10 months, has said he made a bogus confession to the Syrians while being tortured. The document offered minute details of what Arar allegedly told Syrian military intelligence officials.

Arar himself has expressed anger with the article which suggests his confession was genuine. Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan has also complained that the leak has "affected the reputation of a man, his wife and his children."

O’Neill says her article wasn’t meant in indict Arar but to shed light on the RCMP’s role in the case.

"In the story that I wrote on Nov. 8 that was cited in the warrant, I wasn’t intending to persecute anyone, or make any allegations about anyone. I was reporting about how the RCMP was conducting itself in the Arar case," she said.

O’Neill says the raid has infuriated her and her fellow journalists because it appears to be an attack on the freedom of the press.

"The Charter of Rights in our country guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of the press. These are the pillars of democracy and it’s up to everybody to make sure those are upheld," she says.

"I wouldn’t say that we are in a police state. I would say that this case underlines the need to be very vigilant in the post-911 era."

The RCMP obtained the O’Neill search warrant under the anti-leak provisions of the new Security of Information Act, passed in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001. Under the Act, it is illegal to communicate leaked secret documents.

No charges against O’Neill have been laid.

Journalists in Canada have reacted with outrage to the raid.

"The (Security of Information Act) seems to have sweeping reach. If today’s police actions are any example, the consequences for freedom of the press are ominous," Paul Schneidereit, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists, said in a news release Wednesday.

McLellan said fundamental rights such as freedom of the press and national security had to be balanced. "Search warrants are not issued arbitrarily in this country," she said.

Prime Minister Paul Martin said Thursday he believes the press should be able to report without government or police interference. He added that he thought the focus of the RCMP investigation shouldn’t be on O’Neill, but instead on finding out who leaked the information and documents to her.

"That just simply wasn’t fair that that information be leaked. And obviously, given that it was security information, made it all the more serious," he said.

Canadian home raided by police

For background information, see Canadian Report’s Home Raided 

An Interview with Juliet O’Neill

Evan Solomon: Juliet, just take me through the sequence. Eight o?clock, just tell me what happened from your point of view. You?re in bed – just quickly walk me through it. So what happens?

Juliet O’Neill: I’m lying in bed listening to the radio, the doorbell rings, I’m not expecting anyone, so I peek out my blinds, and see cars-full of people, shadowy people, figures. And immediately I knew they were police cars, no one was blocking the driveway as well. Went to the side window and looked out and saw men in black standing on the doorstep. And the bell was ringing, I guess, because I peeked out the window, they knew I was home. So I thought I’m not answering my door without taking a shower and getting dressed. And I actually had a wild hope by the time I was out of the shower, they?d be gone.

I had a shower and got dressed and by then the phone was ringing and the doorbell was “Ding, ding, ding, ding,” so I thought I better not take the time to dry my hair. Came downstairs, opened the front blind so that they would know I was coming to the door, and I went to the door and asked them "Who are you? Who am I looking at?" And they showed me the RCMP ID. So I opened the door. Three of them came in, filling out my little entryway, and I felt kind of intimidated.."stifled" would be a better word. The last one went to close the door tightly and I pulled it open, I didn’t want to be inside with the door closed with them.

They pulled out the search warrant, pulled out a tape recorder, and I said I didn’t want to go any further without calling a lawyer. I called the Citizen lawyer, I was read the warrant, they taped it as well, he pulled out a card, read my rights, and I?d already called the lawyer, so it was redundant, but they have to do that. They explained that this was a high-level investigation into a secret document pertaining to Maher Arar.
and that I was subject to the warrant because I had written a story for the Ottawa Citizen on Nov 8. and that was all specified in the warrant as well. They explained what was going to happen, that a group of investigators would come into the house and search.

I phoned my editor, let him know what was happening, my editor phoned back pretty quickly and told me what my rights were, and the most important part was to make sure they put anything they were taking away in a sealed container, sealed plastic envelopes. He then told me that the lawyer was on the way.

They began assembling. They didn’t actually start the search until I indicated the lawyer was on the way and so on, they explained that they would conduct the search throughout the house at the same time in each room. There were 10 of them, I have six rooms here, so there was more than one per each room.

First thing they did was asked me to take them to my lap-top computer, so I went upstairs to my office and asked them what was the rush, and they said “We have to take you off-line.” And I said I have the dial-up connection, and I’m not on line. And they said “We have to verify that,” and unplug everything. And the officer, one of the two women, actually told me that she also has the dial-up connection at home, and she said “I sit in front of the computer all day so I really don’t need anything more than a dial-up at home."

The three of them came into the office upstairs, and one of them started raffling through my books and files immediately. One of them attacked my computer, and it was so crowded up there that they ended up taking my laptop downstairs–two of them worked on the computer, to my dining room table. I remember seeing this cute little box of miniature tools and -the strange things that go through your head-I remember thinking “Oh, that’s so cute.” And then realizing what they were doing with it, they were taking the back off my computer and peering at it very closely.

Evan Solomon: They were copying your hard drive.

Juliet O’Neill: They were copying my hard drive. The first thing I had said to them when they did take me upstairs was “Please don’t take my laptop, it’s my life, it’s my work, I can’t live without it.” And they said “We won’t take it if we can copy the hard drive.” And of course, they took away two copies of my hard drive, as a matter of fact

Evan Solomon: Then they went through all your stuff, personal letters?

Juliet O’Neill: They went through all my stuff, including a little box of treasured mementos, birthday cards, anniversary, receipts from plays and love letters from James, my partner, who writes beautiful love letters, I?ve kept all of them. They went through all my old postcards and personal letters from a few years ago. Most of my friends, we now communicate through email, so I actually don’t have much current snail mail around.

They went through my clothes, and when I was upstairs, I moved around the house as much as I could to see exactly what they were doing. When I went past the dressing room, I saw a woman rifling through my underwear drawer, I was quite” and my heart (thumps her chest), it was shocking. And later I saw her lifting my bed clothes. I just had to hold my emotions in check, it was SO invasive.

Evan Solomon: Every place?

Juliet O’Neill: Every place, every drawer. My little drawers of candles and, my drawers with unopened junk mail. A note from my mother “Julie, I?ve left soup in the fridge. I’m off to Norm (her best friend)."

Evan Solomon: How long did it take?

Juliet O’Neill: It took five hours and one of the men in charge, a man from Truth Verification Section of the RCMP remarked a few times during this that he thought it was going well, it was going quickly and he was pleased with the pace.. And I remarked “Well, it’s fast because there’s so many of them in here and it’s such a small house.”

Evan Solomon: Were you scared?

Juliet O’Neill: I wasn’t scared, scared isn’t the right word. What kicked in was the feeling of “Control your emotions.” I felt defiant but I didn’t express defiance. I guess I expressed defiance by being calm, by asking questions and a lot of my journalistic buttons went on automatically. And I even used the term “This is a journalistic opportunity.”

We all heard of people who got an early morning knock on the door from the RCMP, especially since 9/11, people from the Middle East and people of the Muslim faith, you know, who were saying “Gee, there seems to be one law for us and one law for the rest of you.” And harassment and intimidation are words that we heard many times since 9/11? And I thought, here I am, in the middle of what’s happened to other people, and it’s happening in my home and I’m going to be alert and remember as many details as I can. And I also thought, I wonder if I take pictures if they?ll object. So I went to where I thought my digital camera was, and it wasn’t there. And I started looking for my digital camera and I was thinking, “Oh, the last time I could remember where it was, it was in the right-hand drawer in my office.”

So I phoned my buddy at the office, three of us worked there, and I said “Can you check my right-hand drawer, I need my digital camera. If it’s not there, that means I?ll keep looking around the house.” And he said, “What are you talking about, I’m locked out of the office. It’s been taped off as a crime scene. Your office is being searched as well.” And I said?”My office is being searched”? And of course, the guys here knew that, it was a simultaneous search, they didn’t tell me.. And my colleague told me not only are we locked out of the office today, but the Sun, our rival newspaper which has an office across the hall. And I asked "How can they keep the Sun from working? It’s bad enough that Citizen reporters are not allowed to work because of this?" But, you know?

Evan Solomon: Is it harder to deal with it now than it was then?

Juliet O’Neill: You know, yes, because I was. There is a certain amount of adrenaline, there’s a certain amount of detachment that comes with the observation. You are just keenly aware and want to remember everything and I took notes. The phone was ringing off the hook, there was a certain amount of chaos, because it was so crowded and things were being knocked over. And yet, there was order, in that, people had a silence, people were wearing gloves, they were very methodical, I called it “Slow Motion Robbery? because of the method. But at the same time, there was the chaos of people phoning and saying “I?m at this address” and that was an address I had three years ago, and we’re outside and the press was gathering outside and the RCMP, one of them said “We can move people away from the house if you?d like.” And I said, “No way, those are my buddies out there.”

Evan Solomon: Do you ever think that you?ve been set up, that the leak you got about what happened to Maher Arar was a set-up in some way, and you published all this stuff and that maybe the RCMP or CSIS was using it to flesh out their own link?

Juliet O’Neill: Because of the potential charges, it’s not right for me to discuss my analysis of what’s taken place, but I will say that my story was an attempt to put the Maher Arar case in the context, in a broader context than what we were getting. And I will also say that many reporters received leaks about Maher Arar and I was putting together all the elements, some known, some new, in the context of this story.

Evan Solomon: I have to ask you these questions: did they find your source?

Juliet O’Neill: You?ll have to ask them that.

Evan Solomon: And can you comment on whether you?ll continue to pursue this story?

Juliet O’Neill: I?d like to retain the right to pursue this story. I’m a feature writer, so it wasn’t a daily journalism job, it was a feature. I, at this moment, am a part of the story so the best I can do and I certainly welcome the ability to do that, was write a first person account. I don’t really like first-person stories, but I did. So I’m only able to write about my role in it at the moment.

Evan Solomon: Just tell me, has this? have you contacted your source at all or has your source contacted you since the raid by the RCMP?

Juliet O’Neill: That’s another question I can’t answer.

Evan Solomon: Do you think this will have a chill on the kind of sources that journalists use?

Juliet O’Neill: I would think that especially at this moment, that not only would it have a chill on many journalists? I’m a journalist who has a huge corporation behind me, so, maybe I have more courage then some. I?ve had calls from freelance reporters who maybe can’t afford a lawyer. And it would also, I would think, have a chill on leakers, and I think it’s pretty obvious that was what was intended.

Evan Solomon: You think this was intended to chill leakers so that the public doesn’t get more information?

Juliet O’Neill: It’s intended to catch a leaker and under that law, to catch the recipient of the leak.

Evan Solomon: You think you?ll get charged?

Juliet O’Neill: I’m told that the Crown had said “Imminent charges are unlikely.”

Evan Solomon: When you heard the Prime Minister Paul Martin comment from Switzerland, what was your reaction?

Juliet O’Neill: I wasn’t watching television, I was working. And a colleague phoned me and said he’d just said it. I shook hands with James, we did our own version of the hi-five. I was very heartened by that, it was a big turning point that day.

Evan Solomon: The Prime Minister’s comments were a turning point?

Juliet O’Neill: (nods)

Evan Solomon: Well, thanks for letting us in here, it was a pleasure for me, a real pleasure