Halifax West MP Geoff Regan chastised the federal government Thursday for its failure to protect the rights of Digby resident Philip Halliday.
Philip Halliday in Antigua in the fall of 2009. Photo courtesy Sheree Halliday
Regan, a Liberal MP, tabled a petition in the House of Commons signed by more than 1,000 of Halliday’s supporters, who maintain the Digby resident is innocent of all charges and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Halliday has been held in a Spanish prison for almost two years with no trial date set.
He was one of seven crewmen aboard the ship ‘Destiny Empress’ when it was stopped by police off Spain in December, 2009, and 1.5 tonnes of cocaine was discovered. Halliday, who had signed on as delivery crew, has been under arrest since then.
The petition presented in the House calls on the federal government to ensure Halliday receives a fair and speedy trial or an immediate release based on the length of his detention with no trial date and his continued deteriorating health.
Regan said Halliday’s family and friends are worried about his health and his ability to have his rights upheld.
“They wonder why the government isn’t doing anything to ensure Mr. Halliday receives a fair and speedy trial or proper health care,” said Regan. “He has been abandoned by his own government.
“It’s time the Conservative government stood up for the rights of Canadian citizens abroad, starting with Philip Halliday.”
While Halliday finally received some treatment last year, he is still awaiting further medical attention for liver disease and cysts on his kidneys.
Sheree Halliday, his wife, remains hopeful that Halliday will be released in time for Christmas.
In a news release from Regan’s office, Sheree Halliday said she trusts that the Spanish justice system will end this ordeal and she thanked supporters and those MPs working for her husband’s release.
“Our greatest hope is that Philip will be back home on Nova Scotian soil very soon,” she said.
Canada’s foreign affairs department has said it is concerned and is maintaining contact with Halliday.
Earlier this year, Michael McDermott, the captain of the ‘Destiny Empress’ was acquitted in an English court on all charges.
It was McDermott who first hired Halliday aboard in 2009 in Shelburne, said Sheree Halliday.
However, McDermott wasn’t aboard the vessel when Halliday was arrested, having missed the delivery trip from Trinidad due to broken ribs.
McDermott was arrested in the UK in February, 2010, along with an another dozen suspects, in connection with the same trafficking case.
Sheree Halliday said McDermott had some information that would prove her husband’s innocence.