Victims of terror will be able to sue

Victims of terrorism will be able to sue perpetrators in Canadian courts under new federal legislation to be introduced in Parliament this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Sunday.

TORONTO — Victims of terrorism will be able to sue perpetrators in Canadian courts under new federal legislation to be introduced in Parliament this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Sunday.

“We will introduce legislation that will give victims of terrorism the power to obtain just compensation from those responsible for their suffering,” Harper told a cheering crowd at a Canadian Jewish Congress event in Toronto, where he received the Saul Hayes Human Rights Award.

Harper said the proposed new law, which will amend the State Immunity Act, would provide victims the opportunity for justice by holding responsible the individuals, organizations and foreign states that commit and support acts of terrorism.

It would also send the message that Canada will hold those accountable for their crimes.

Harper provided no details, preferring to wait until Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan introduces the legislation this week.

Families of the Canadian victims of terrorist attacks have long been campaigning for just such a law, said Aaron Blumenfeld, a Toronto lawyer with the advocacy group Canadian Coalition Against Terror.

“The intention is not just to try to get compensation out of those people who sponsored these attacks, but also to expose them for what they’ve done,” Blumenfeld said in an interview.

The coalition represents families who lost their loved ones in terror attacks, including the 9-11 attacks in the U.S. and the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182.

Co-founder Maureen Basnicki, whose husband Ken was killed in the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center, called the announcement “significant” because it sends would-be-terrorists the message that they won’t win.

“We all must know that money is the lifeblood of terrorism and to be able to go to the transparency of the courts and follow the money trail would give me a great satisfaction and help create that proper legacy for Ken,” she said.

“Many of our Canadian victims of terrorism remain invisible — but this will give us all some sense of justice and doing everything possible to protect our fellow Canadians.”

The coalition had supported a private member’s bill presented to the House of Commons in 2005 asking the Parliament to amend the State Immunity Act, which protects foreign states from lawsuits, Blumenfeld said.

That effort was not successful at the time, but similar petitions have been working their way through the government for the last few years.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who spoke after Harper at the CJC event but was not present for his address, expressed support for the bill, saying Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, a former justice minister, has been working for the past two years on civil remedies for terror victims.

“I noticed this morning that the Prime Minister has taken action, which, if you’ll allow me to say, would not have been possible with the preparatory work of Irwin Cotler,” Ignatieff said during an impassioned speech about the rights of Israel.

“My party will never claim to be the only genuine defenders of Israel in Canadian politics, because I don’t want my party to be alone in the defence of Israel, I want all parties to defend Israel.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Attendees of the Downtown Red Deer Market, which runs every Wednesday during the summer on Little Gaetz Avenue, have complained about the lack of public washrooms. (Photo contributed by Red Deer Downtown Business Association)
Portable washrooms to be set up in downtown Red Deer this summer

More data is needed before the city invests in a permanent structure

A survey of 3,083 Red Deer residents was done by an online platform on behalf of the City of Red Deer, generating about 11,607 comments.. (File photo)
Red Deerians speak out about COVID-19 concerns in survey

More than 3,000 city residents were surveyed

A Calgary energy company's request for a tax break was turned down by Lacombe County. About $31,000 was owed by a company that went bankrupt and Silverleaf Resources Inc. bought some of their assets.
(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe County turns down oil company’s tax break request

Silverleaf Resources Inc. hoped for break on $31,000 in back taxes

RCMP recovered hundreds of stolen items, including Bibles and historical items stolen from the Bowden Pioneer Museum.
(Photo from RCMP)
Museum artifacts among hundreds of stolen items recovered by RCMP in central Alberta

Second World War and other historical and religious items recovered

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) reach for the rebound from Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) during second-period NHL action in Edmonton on Monday, March 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman watches his solo home run during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros Monday, March 1, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) clears the puck in front of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson (40) looks for the rebound during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Rugby training gear is shown during a Torotno Wolfpack during a practice at Lamport Stadium in Toronto. Bradford, Featherstone, Leigh, London,  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) and centre Chris Tierney (71) get sandwiched between Flames defencemen Rasmus Andersson (4) and Juuso Valimaki (6) during second-period NHL action in Ottawa on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Team Canada's Jocelyne Larocque celebrates her goal past the U.S.A. with goaltender Embrace Maschmeyer during first period of Women's Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver on February 5, 2020. The Canadian women's hockey team opened a camp Monday in Halifax, which is co-hosting the upcoming world championship. Hockey Canada invited 35 players to participate in the seven-day camp closed to the public and media at Scotiabank Centre. The women are training under restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a limit of 25 players on the ice at one time. "They will continue to follow strict COVID-19 testing as per team health and safety protocols that have been detailed and approved by Nova Scotia Public Health," Hockey Canada said Monday in a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Most Read