'Come clean' on Arar, Harper asks U.S.
Canada wants assurances that U.S. officialswill deal honestly with their Canadian counterparts and incidents like the deportation of Canadian Maher Arar to Syria will not happen again, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.
He made the comment while talking to reporters after the government announced Canada will officially protest the U.S. treatment of Arar andCanadian officials. Arar was deported to Syria from the United States, and then U.S. officials were not candid about their actions.
"What I would like to see is obviously the United States government come clean with its version of events, to acknowledgeâ¦the deficiencies and inappropriate conduct that occurred in this case, particularly vis-a-vis its relationship with the Canadian government,"Harper said.
Canada wants to hear that "these kinds of incidents will not be repeated in the future."
Harper talked to U.S. President George W. Bush on the phone Friday, and expressed Canadian concerns about Arar and the behaviour of U.S. officials.
Justice Dennis O'Connor's recent report on Arar's case concluded that the American authoritiestreated him badly. They sent Arar to Syria, where he was tortured,after he stopped off in the U.S. on his way back to Canada in 2002.
Moreover, O'Connor said that the U.S. officials were candid neither with the RCMP officers involved in the joint investigation of Arar, nor with Canadian consular officials who were seeking to help him.
Harper said the U.S. actions "violated what we understood to be the protocols for such communications between our two governments."
Bush "had some awareness of the issue," seemed to be sympathetic and said the U.S. government would respond, Harper said.
O'Connor recommended the government formally complain about how the U.S. dealt with Arar, and how U.S. officials dealt with their Canadian counterparts. But heconceded that the objection would be more symbolic than anything else.
U.S. officials acted on incorrect information provided by the RCMP.
Foreign Minister Peter MacKay sent the protest letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday.
Canada also sent the U.S. a copy of O'Connor's report.