Cost's of O'Connor report etc.

This is an old story but of interest because it lists the costs of the O'Connor report and also other compensation packages paid by the Canadian government so that one can compare them with the Arar settlement. The cost of the O'Connor report might seem high but it lasted 30 months I believe. In fact it is still not finished. O'Connor is trying to get some portions released to the public that have been held back for security reasons. Anyway O'Connor certainly did a thorough job although his mandate was narrow and he was unable to punish anyone or even suggest as much. There has been zero accountability for some of the supposed mistakes. Zaccardelli did not resign as a result of the mistakes of the RCMP but because he in effect perjured himself in testimony before committees. He gave contradictory testimony.

Ottawa settles with Arar
Harper to unveil compensation of at least $10-million for Canadian tortured in Syria

OTTAWA -- Maher Arar, the Canadian engineer who was illegally sent to Syria to be tortured after the RCMP wrongly labelled him an Islamic extremist, will be given a compensation package today amounting to more than $10-million, government sources told The Globe and Mail.

The package, the highest in Canadian history and the first relating to the torture of a citizen overseas, will be announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in recognition of the role the government and the security services played in his deportation to Syria in 2002. Mr. Arar had been seeking an apology and $37-million, down from his initial demand for $400-million.

Mr. Arar, who is studying for his PhD in a computer-related field, has been otherwise unable to work in his discipline since his ordeal. It was unclear last night whether an apology would be forthcoming for the suffering endured by the 36-year-old software engineer and his family during his imprisonment, which took place when the Liberals were in office.

Mr. Arar was left shattered by his experience. He struggles with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder while making a new life for himself and his family in British Columbia.

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Although he was unavailable for comment yesterday, he told The Globe last month: "To be a public figure, a public personality, is something I never wanted. I have to live a stressful life every single minute. I'm tired. Every day, the cloud is still over me. I'm not like a normal family father any more. It's very hard for people to understand what I've been going through, unless they come and live with me, and see it all."

While the specific amount of the compensation deal remained secret last night, the consequences of Canada's culpability loom large.

For example, a deep diplomatic rift remains with the United States, which refuses to accept Mr. Arar's innocence. U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins took Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to task this week for insisting that Mr. Arar's name did not belong on Washington's security watch list.

In addition, Giuliano Zaccardelli became the first RCMP commissioner to resign over scandal in the history of the federal police force after inadequacies were highlighted in the way the case was handled. His force spent $863,000 investigating Mr. Arar before wrongly concluding he was an extremist.

Mr. Justice Dennis O'Connor's inquiry that examined the Arar rendition cost $16-million, and a separate inquiry has been called into the case of three others, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muyyed Nurredin. Former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci is looking into their cases.

It was Judge O'Connor who raised the cases of these Canadian Arabs who were also targets of an RCMP investigation before ending up in Syrian jails.

"I did not conduct anything approaching a full review," Judge O'Connor wrote in his Arar findings, adding that this would be "an enormously time-consuming task" outside his mandate.

But he did say there was a "pattern of investigative practices" that included officials "accepting and relying upon information that might be the product of torture." And such practices, Judge O'Connor said, "show that Canadian officials' treatment of Mr. Arar was not unique. They are indicative of systemic problems that should be addressed by the relevant agencies."

Yesterday, Mr. Arar's lawyer, Julian Falconer, refused to discuss the settlement, saying only that Mr. Arar would be available for comment at 2 this afternoon. CTV reported yesterday the package includes personal compensation of more than $10-million, a $2-million payment for Mr. Arar's legal fees, and an official apology.

Members of Parliament unanimously supported a Bloc Québécois motion in September that said apologies should be offered to Mr. Arar for how he was treated. But that vote was not legally binding.

In his recommendations, Judge O'Connor said the government should avoid applying a strictly legal assessment to its potential liability when assessing how much compensation is owed to Mr. Arar.

"It should recognize the suffering that Mr. Arar has experienced, even since his return to Canada," Judge O'Connor wrote. Judge O'Connor said a deal with Mr. Arar could be more meaningful than an award for damages. It "could involve anything from an apology to an offer of employment or assistance in obtaining employment."

What they got

The Canadian government is expected to announce a financial settlement today with Maher Arar for the pain and suffering the naturalized citizen endured while imprisoned and tortured in Syria. The following are some well-known cases of government compensation awarded:

Head-tax payers

In 1885, a $50 head tax was imposed on Chinese-Canadian immigrants to deter them from coming to Canada, a tax that eventually rose to the then-enormous sum of $500. In 1923, the Chinese Immigration Act effectively barred immigrants from China from coming to Canada, until it was repealed in 1947. Last October, the Canadian government officially apologized and gave $20,000 each to 20 surviving head-tax payers and nearly 200 living spouses of head-tax payers now deceased.

Simon Marshall:

After serving six years in prison for crimes he didn't commit, Mr. Marshall of Sainte-Foy, Que., received $2.3-million last December, the highest compensation in Quebec's history. The 24-year-old man was cleared of the 15 counts of sexual assault he was charged with in 1997, after DNA tests revealed he was not guilty.

David Milgaard:

The $10-million compensation package in 1999, for Mr. Milgaard's wrongful conviction in the 1969 sex slaying of a Saskatoon nurse's aid, is the biggest compensation award in Canadian history. Mr. Milgaard was 17 when he was imprisoned in 1970 and spent nearly 23 years in prison. He was freed in 1992 and exonerated in 1997 when DNA tests proved that the semen found at the crime scene was not his.

Duplessis orphans:

Between 1,000 and 1,500 adult Quebeckers gained recognition that the province grossly mistreated them as children. The so-called Duplessis orphans, who were interned in church-run psychiatric hospitals because they were "illegitimate" during socially repressive times under premier Maurice Duplessis, were compensated roughly $25,000 each in 2001.

Residential school students:

An estimated 80,000 former students in Canada's controversial aboriginal residential school system became eligible last month for a payment of, on average, $24,000. The estimated 12,000 to 20,000 people who suffered physical and sexual abuse will be eligible for an additional $5,000 to $275,000 each and could get more if they can show a loss of income.

Guy Paul Morin: Mr. Morin, who was wrongly convicted of killing a nine-year-old girl, was awarded a $1.2-million settlement on behalf of the Ontario government after being exonerated in 1995.


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