Vancouver – The comments made by United States Ambassador Paul Cellucci on the Mahar Arer case could have a profound negative effect on Canada-U.S. relations, former Foreign Minister and Liu Institute for Global Issues Executive Director Lloyd Axworthy said today.
”If there is no respect for the Canadian passport, there can be no respect for the bearer’s rights,“ said Axworthy in relation to a Celluci statement at an Ottawa conference, where the Ambassador stated that the U.S. government would reserve the right to act unilaterally in order to protect the security of its citizens.
The issue came to public light after U.S. authorities deported Mahar Arer, a Canadian citizen born in Syria, to his country of birth rather than Canada on suspicion of terrorism. Never charged with any crime, Arar spent a year in a Syrian prison, where he claims to have been tortured.
Although Prime Minister designate Paul Martin expressed a commitment to investigate the Arar case closely, Axworthy believes more action is necessary on the diplomatic front. ”Paul Martin must engage not only in a full enquiry of the Arar case, but also conduct a thorough review of current border security agreements with the United States, to ensure that the rights of Canadians are protected,“ said Axworthy.