The Blog

Recent Entries


Archive of June, 2013

Amar Wala

Put up or shut up

Posted by Amar Wala on Tuesday, June 18, 2013.

I still get asked if I think The Secret Trial 5 "did anything". It's been 4 years and it's still one of the more common questions people have. My answer often surprises people. "It doesn't matter" is my usual response. This is usually met with a blank stare.

I planned this blog post to be an update on our project. After all it’s a very exciting time for ST5, as we’ve entered our home stretch. No more applications, no more pitching. After nearly 4 years, it’s time to finish this film. We have a long way to go, as this will be a complex and lengthy edit, but it’s nice to feel like a filmmaker again. Rather than bore you with updates on our process however, I’ve decided to use this opportunity to spark a conversation about the issues we hope to raise in the film, based on recent revelations.

As I write this post, Mohamed and Sophie Harkat are at The Supreme Court of Canada for their first bail review in 4 years. Mr. Harkat is entitled to one every 6 months. Later this year, the Harkats will return to that same court, to argue the constitutionality (or lack thereof) of the security certificate process, which has held Mr. Harkat in prison or under house arrest for over a decade. In all that time, he has never been charged with a crime, and has never come face to face with the information used to hold him captive. Letting him see that “evidence” we’re told, would endanger our national security. The question I’ve always had, one that after about 7 years making films about this issue I still cannot answer, is: why not charge Mr. Harkat with a crime? If he poses such a great threat, if he has indeed “engaged in terrorism” as our government says, let’s convict him in a court of law, where he has a chance to defend himself. Opponents argue that it’s not that simple. I beg to differ.

Last month two Muslim men from Toronto and Montreal were arrested for allegedly plotting to attack a Via Rail Train in Toronto. Like Mr. Harkat, they are not Canadian citizens, yet they were arrested by the RCMP, and charged with “conspiring to carry out an attack and commit murder at the direction of or in association with a terrorist group”. It would be highly irresponsible for anyone to assume either the innocence or guilt of these men, but it appears that they will be afforded due process and given a chance to defend themselves. This is a good thing. Why then, are Mr. Harkat and the other security certificate detainees not granted the same right? Why is this basic tenet of justice denied in these cases?

Perhaps Canada’s top ranking police officer can shed some light on that. In newly released documents, Bob Paulson, now Commissioner of the RCMP, referred to security certificates as “completely off the rails” in October 2009, which coincidentally, is when we started shooting ST5. Paulson also stated that, “If we had the threshold belief that we could take criminal action, we would do so.”

I’ll leave it to you to interpret that last quote. The Harkat’s Supreme Court challenge begins this fall; let’s see if we are ready to do the right thing, which is often the hard thing.

If you support Mr. Harkat’s right to a fair trial, you'll understand why I answer the above question the way I do.

We look forward to sharing our film and having this discussion with you all, and thank you for your continued support.