Canada: compensation and apology for “rendition” victim

Canada caves in—the US remains intransigent. From This Week of Kamloops, BC, Jan. 28:

Maher Arar is Kamloops’ newest millionaire, but in an impassioned speech Friday, his lawyer reminded potential detractors that no amount of money will help Arar and his family to ever lead a normal life again.

“To those who may regard the compensation directed to Mr. Arar and his family as some kind of windfall, I ask you to consider this: no amount of money would cause a rational person to chose what Maher Arar and his family have been through,” Julian Falconer said on the day Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially apologized to Arar and his family before announcing a $10.5-million compensation package.

“At the end of the day, not one of us would trade our good names and our ability to live a normal life for that amount of money.”

The $10.5 million, Falconer continued, will give Arar, his wife and two children a chance to try to rebuild their lives.

Falconer called Friday’s announcement “an historic settlement for an exceptional case.”

Arar spent much of his speech to the Ottawa press gallery, to which KTW was linked by telephone, talking about his family.

“I feel now that I can devote more time to being a good father and to being a good husband and to rebuilding my life,” he said. “The struggle to clear my name has been long and hard.”

Harper’s apology, delivered in writing, “means the world to me” and his family, Arar said.

Arar’s member of Parliament, Conservative Betty Hinton, said, “I am certain that Mr. Arar and his family must feel much better today after having finally gotten a settlement and an apology, and I wish them nothing but the very best”

Friday’s announcement marks the end of a legal struggle Arar and his wife, Monia Mazigh, have led since 2003, the year Arar returned to Canada after being imprisoned for one year in his native Syria, where he was tortured.

He later demanded an official apology from the Canadian government for the role of the RCMP in his deportation to Syria, and had wanted to sue Ottawa for $400 million.

He later pared down the amount to $37 million.

Arar remains on U.S. watch lists for terrorism suspects, despite efforts from the Canadian government to have him removed.

The Ottawa Citizen notes Jan. 29: “Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to press ‘all levels’ of the U.S. government to remove Maher Arar from a security watchlist. But that does not include siding with the Democratic political foes of a Republican president with whom Mr. Harper has tried to build closer ties.”

See our last posts on the Arar case and the torture and detainment scandal. See also our last post on Canada.