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

Ottawa, Ontario
26 January 2007

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Good afternoon.

I wish to announce that the government of Canada has concluded a settlement with Mr. Maher Arar regarding his legal actions.

As a consequence I have written to Mr. Arar as follows 

“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, 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.”

As I have said before, we cannot go back and fix the injustice that occurred to Mr. Arar.  However, we can make some changes to lessen the likelihood that something like this will ever happen again.

  • To this end, Canada’s new government has accepted all 23 recommendations made in commissioner O’Connor’s first report;

  • The government has sent letters to both the Syrian and U.S. governments formally objecting to the treatment of Mr. Arar;

  • Canada has removed Mr. Arar from Canadian lookout lists; and

  • We have specifically requested that the United States amend its own records accordingly.

    Now I understand that the United States has requested that Canada not push the United States to amend its records for Mr. Arar.

    Canada fully understands, appreciates and shares the United States’ concerns about security. 

    However, this government – the government of Canada – has every right to go to bat for one of its citizens when the government believes a Canadian is being unfairly treated by another country.

    That’s why Minister Day has pushed to have Mr. Arar removed from the U.S. watch list.

    And to be clear, as Prime Minister, Minister Day has done so with my full support.

    Moving forward, the government looks forward to implementing Commissioner O’Connor’s recommendations while ensuring the safety and security of all Canadians.

    Thank you.
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