Before his arrest, he’d spent a decade travelling the world to build up markets for Maritime and Quebec potatoes, Dionne said. The farm run by he and his father, Tobique Farms, is in Drummond, N.B.
“It would be nice to have him home by Saturday” when his eldest daughter, Stephanie, 18, graduates from high school, said Dionne. But other than regular consular checks by the Canadian Embassy in Beirut, she’s seen little to give her hope.
The ring rot allegedly in the potatoes shipped to Algeria “is not poisonous to people,” which any agronomist would know, said Joe Brennan, chair of Potatoes New Brunswick
. To jail someone for three months over “a commercial dispute” is “totally out of reason,” he said.
Behind the legal issues, said Brennan, he finds it “extremely frustrating” that not even Tepper’s family can find out what, if anything, is going on behind the scenes for the farmer.
Gillis has appealed to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson
New Brunswick Liberal Senator Pierrette Ringuette
released a stack of documents Tuesday night to support Tepper’s appeal.
A Justice Department letter to Tepper’s lawyers on May 12 said, “Canada will not interfere in the judicial processes of a foreign sovereign state. Canada will continue to provide Mr. Tepper with consular assistance.”
Justice officials pointed out that Algeria had asked the RCMP for help as early as September 2008, and Tepper had spoken to Mounties in Grand Falls, N.B., two years ago.
At issue are Canadian Food Inspection Agency
certificates accompanying two shipments of 2,200 tonnes and 1,330 tonnes of PEI potatoes to Algeria. Tepper is accused of forging the certificates to mask safety problems; his lawyers deny that.
When he arrived in Beirut in March, his passport triggered an Interpol “red alert” for his arrest.
Tepper “was travelling as part of a fully funded Canadian envoy to Lebanon tasked with opening up that market to Canadian potato farmers,” lawyer Gillis said in Ottawa Tuesday. “The RCMP knew of the risk to Mr. Tepper and allowed Canadian tax dollars to transport Mr. Tepper toward an almost certain prison term.”