Prime Minister releases letter of apology to Maher Arar and his family and announces completion of mediation process

Ottawa, Ontario
26 January 2007

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today released the letter of apology he has sent to Maher Arar and his family for any role Canadian officials may have played in what happened to Mr. Arar, Monia Mazigh and their family in 2002 and 2003.

“Although the events leading up to this terrible ordeal happened under the previous government, our Government will do everything in its power to ensure that the issues raised by Commissioner O’Connor are addressed,” said the Prime Minister.  “I sincerely hope that these actions will help Mr. Arar and his family begin a new and hopeful chapter in their lives.”

Canada’s New Government has accepted all 23 recommendations made in Commissioner O’Connor’s first report, and has already begun acting upon them.  The Government has sent letters to both the Syrian and the U.S. governments formally objecting to the treatment of Mr. Arar.  Ministers Day and MacKay have also expressed Canada’s concerns on this important issue to their American counterparts.  Finally, Canada has removed Mr. Arar from Canadian lookout lists, and requested that the United States amend its own records accordingly.

The Prime Minister also announced that Canada’s New Government has successfully completed the mediation process with Mr. Arar, fulfilling another one of Commissioner O’Connor’s recommendations.  This settlement, mutually agreed upon by all parties, ensures that Mr. Arar and his family will obtain fair compensation, in the amount of $10.5 million, plus legal costs, for the ordeal they have suffered. 

The text of the Prime Minister’s letter to Maher Arar is attached.

* * * *

Dear Mr. Arar:

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I wish to apologize to you, Monia Mazigh and your family for any role Canadian officials may have played in the terrible ordeal that all of you experienced in 2002 and 2003. 

Although these events occurred under the last government, please rest assured that this government will do everything in its power to ensure that the issues raised by Commissioner O’Connor are addressed. 

I trust that, having arrived at a negotiated settlement, we have ensured that fair compensation will be paid to you and your family. I sincerely hope that these words and actions will assist you and your family in your efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in your lives.

Yours sincerely,