IN OTHER WORDS: Justice denied

Canada set an important example of decency when it offered a formal apology and compensation worth millions of dollars to a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who was a victim of President Bush’s use of open-ended detention, summary deportation and even torture in the name of fighting terrorism.

Last week’s announcement by PM Stephen Harper came more than four years after the nightmare began for the Canadian, Maher Arar, a 36-year-old software engineer. On his way back from a family vacation, he was detained by US officials at Kennedy Airport on the basis of unsubstantiated information from the Canadian police. After being held in solitary confinement in the US, he was sent to Syria, where he was imprisoned for nearly a year and tortured.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has provided no specifics that would explain Arar’s continued presence on the watch list, or why he was deported to Syria in the first place. Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, is right to demand that the administration face up to its bad behaviour in this case and renounce its renditions policy. This is not just about making amends with Canada, or doing the right thing by what appears to be an innocent man. It is a matter of trying to restore this country’s reputation as a defender and protector of human rights.