New Brunswick

Potato farmer's case against federal government to go to trial in late 2020

A New Brunswick potato farmer who claims the federal government didn't do enough to secure his freedom during more than a year in a Lebanese jail will have to wait until the end of next year for his lawsuit to go to trial.

Henk Tepper was released from a Lebanese jail in March 2012

Henk Tepper was arrested in 2011 on allegations he tried to export diseased potatoes to Algeria.

A New Brunswick potato farmer who claims the federal government didn't do enough to secure his freedom during more than a year in a Lebanese jail will have to wait until the end of next year for his lawsuit to go to trial.

Federal Court this week directed that the case filed by Henk Tepper in 2013 be scheduled for trial beginning in mid-December 2020 for about 10 weeks.

Tepper's lawsuit alleges the Canadian government violated his right to life, liberty and security of person by failing to secure his release.

The lawsuit, which seeks $16.5 million in damages, also says the RCMP provided Algerian authorities with private information, including the annual sales from Tepper's farm and the value of his home, in contravention of the Privacy Act.

He was arrested in Lebanon in 2011 on an Interpol Red Notice on allegations he tried to export diseased potatoes to Algeria. In a statement of defence, the government said it provided Tepper

with diplomatic help and made "numerous and frequent diplomatic interventions" on his behalf.

It states there were about 10 meetings between Tepper and representatives of the Canadian government to monitor his well-being, 40 phone conversations with Tepper's family members and 50 interactions with his lawyers.

Henk Tepper is suing the Canadian government for $16.5 million, alleging Ottawa did not do enough to secure his release from a Lebanese jail. (Facebook )

Tepper eventually returned to Canada on March 31, 2012, after his lawyers obtained a Lebanese presidential decree, but he said he felt let down by his own government.

That Interpol Red Notice remains in place, keeping him from travelling outside of the country.

In a direction issued by the Federal Court this week, Judge James W. O'Reilly, said the trial is expected to take 10 weeks, but with breaks it could stretch over 13 weeks.

He said the trial judge should be identified as soon as possible so he or she can deal with any outstanding matters.