Reuters reports that Canada's top court strikes down anti-terror law. It's all over the radio stations and in all the newspapers (Toronto Star, Globe and Mail).
The decision was unanimous. As Thomas Walkom puts in it the Toronto Star,
Canada is on its way to becoming a civilized country again. The Supreme Court has ruled that if the government wants to lock up people indefinitely without charge, it has to at least let them muster a defence.The reason this decision is important is because the Americans are holding Canadian citizens without charging them. Canada has been in a weak position to criticize this practice since we have also been violating the rights of foreigners.
In the post-9/11 world, this counts as progress.
Yesterday's court ruling deals with what are known as security certificates. These are ministerial orders that allow the government to jail non-citizens without charge and then deport them.
But it's worth noting that the court did not invalidate the entire security certificate regime. It just told the government it has to be more respectful of the Constitution. More important, the top court has yet to address the most controversial element of Canada's immigration laws – the question of what to do to those that the government wants to deport as security risks even though it knows they will almost certainly face torture in their homelands.
That question is due to be addressed by a lower court, probably later this year.
Still, yesterday's decision does go some way to clearing up a law that has become a searing embarrassment for Canada.
Since 2001, it has allowed the government to jail any foreigner, whether legally or illegally in the country, that it deems a security risk.
The Supreme Court declared that the six terrorist suspects who are now in detention must be allowed their day in court. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote the unanimous decision, which said that the present law violates the fundamental right to a fair trial that's part of Canada's constitution.