Trump torture embrace increases pressure on Canada to repeal directives

Trump torture embrace increases pressure

OTTAWA — U.S. President Donald Trump’s embrace of torture is prompting renewed calls for Canada to scrap federal directives that allow the use of information obtained through brutal means.

Several human rights groups and the federal NDP are calling on Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to repeal the instructions, introduced by the former Conservative government.

Goodale has said the ministerial directives raise troubling issues.

Since becoming president, Trump has expressed openness to the return of torture during interrogations.

Groups including Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group said Monday in a letter to Goodale there’s a real risk that intelligence-sharing between Canada and the U.S. may again become tainted by concerns about torture.

In the House of Commons, NDP public safety critic Matthew Dube asked whether the Liberal government would repeal the federal instructions in light of Trump’s “frightening normalization of torture.”

Goodale said torture is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Criminal Code and international conventions to which Canada is a party.

“Most importantly, torture is found to be abhorrent by Canadians, and we reject it.”

But Goodale added that the ministerial directives are still “under review to ensure that they are consistent with the policies and practices of the government of Canada.”

A 2010 federal framework document says when there is a “substantial risk” that sending information to — or soliciting information from — a foreign agency would result in torture, the matter should be referred to the responsible deputy minister or agency head.

The directive specific to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, based on the framework, says the agency must not knowingly rely upon information derived from torture.

But it adds that in “exceptional circumstances” CSIS may need to share the most complete information in its possession, including details likely extracted through torture, to deal with a threat to life or property.

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Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press