#CyberFLASH: Bill C-51 could have been used to prevent Arar from coming back from Syria to Canada, says lawyer

hackerThe federal government’s proposed Anti-Terrorism Act, Bill C-51, would lead to “unbridled” information sharing, says immigration and refugee lawyer Lorne Waldman, a former co-counsel for Maher Arar, and had it been in place at the time, it could have been used to keep Mr. Arar from returning to Canada.

“The fact that we’re going to expand the information sharing with less and less controls over how information is shared is a huge problem, especially when we consider the lessons that we thought had been learned through the experiences of Maher Arar. People do not appreciate the dangers that lurk in this sort of unbridled sharing of information,” said Mr. Waldman, a Toronto-based lawyer.

Mr. Arar is a Canadian citizen with dual Syrian citizenship who in 2002 faced extraordinary rendition to Syria where he was detained for a year and tortured. Mr. Arar was released a year later without charge. The Canadian O’Connor Commission of Inquiry in 2006 cleared Mr. Arar of any links to terrorism. Mr. Arar received $10.5-million from the federal government and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) officially apologized to Mr. Arar for Canada’s role in his detainment. Mr. Arar, who did not respond to an interview request last week and who has been following Bill C-51 closely, recently shared some of his thoughts on the Anti-Terrorism Act on Twitter, including on Feb. 26 when he wrote: “If #C51 were in place when I was in Syria it could’ve been used 2prevent me from coming back, LEGALLY (i.e. ‘disruption’ has a broad meaning).”

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