Terror victims to be able to sue in Canadian courts
Published Sunday, May 31, 2009 9:16PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 11:01PM EDT
Victims of terrorism will be able to sue perpetrators in Canadian courts under new federal legislation to be introduced by the Harper government this week.
The legislation will allow "victims of terrorism to seek justice against individuals, organizations and foreign states that support terrorism," Prime Minister Harper said Sunday in a speech to the Canadian Jewish Congress in Toronto.
He said it sends a clear message that Canada will hold terrorists "accountable" for their crimes.
Further details will be available when the government introduces the legislation later this week, Harper said.
Families of the Canadian victims of terrorist attacks are applauding the move, after long advocating for terror victims to be able to sue terrorists.
Maureen Basnicki of the Canadian Coalition against Terror knows full well the pain of losing a loved one to terror. Her husband Ken Basnicki was one of the Canadians who died in the 9/11 attacks. He was on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center.
Basnicki told CTV News Channel that the bill will "help to create a proper legacy for my late husband. For all victims of terrorism it gives them a sense of justice," she said, adding "justice is very elusive for us."
Basnicki also said she believed this legislation is going to be an "effective made-in-Canada deterrent for future acts of terrorism."
CTV Legal Analyst Steven Skurka called the proposed legislation a bold new step by the government.
"It sends a loud message internationally about Canada's posture against terrorist acts," Skurka told CTV News Channel.
He likened it to "victim's bill of rights."
Critics, however, say the bill may open up all kinds of legal issues.
Law professor James Morton, who was at the CJC event, wonders how lawsuits involving more than one country would play out.
"If we, for example, allow someone from Israel to sue Syria for some kind of alleged terrorist action," he said, "similarly that means that they're going to have people from Jordan allowed to sue Israel, and people from Iraq allowed to sue the United States."
"Presumably it would be restricted to persons residing in Canada, which is fine" Morton added, "but it opens up lawsuits against nations across the world through the Canadian courts."
With files from The Canadian Press