The Law Society of Ontario will allow convicted Toronto 18 terrorist Saad Gaya to become a licensed lawyer after its tribunal found him to be “presently of good character.”
In 2006, Gaya and over a dozen other radical Islamists plotted to detonate bombs throughout Toronto. The plot was foiled following a national security operation, and Gaya was arrested while unloading what he thought was ammonium nitrate in order to make truck bombs.
Among the targets of the al-Qaeda-inspired plot were the Parliament of Canada and the Toronto Stock Exchange. Plotters also planned to take political hostages and behead the Prime Minister and other Canadian leaders.
Gaya pleaded guilty in 2009 to the commission of an offence for a terrorist group and was sentenced to serve 18 years in prison. After serving 10 years, Gaya was released on parole and finally finished his sentence in 2020.
He began his legal career soon after and recently graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. He is currently listed as an articling student with the firm St. Lawrence Barristers LLP. Gaya’s biography on the firm’s website makes no mention of his terrorist past.
The Law Society Tribunal ruled Gaya eligible to become a lawyer based on its assessment of his remorse and conduct since his offence.
“We have no doubt about Mr. Gaya’s good character today. His insight, remorse and acceptance of responsibility are clear from his testimony and from his actions, from what he has overcome and accomplished, and in the respect and support he has earned from those many people who he encountered in his lengthy and challenging path to rehabilitation,” the tribunal wrote.
It based its decision on five criteria including how long ago Gaya’s crime took place, his conduct since being convicted, rehabilitation, remorse and the nature and duration of the crime.
In response to the decision, Gaya said he hopes to well serve the justice system as a lawyer.
“It is tremendously meaningful for me to have the Law Society Tribunal review the extensive information available from the last 16 years and conclude that at the end of this lengthy journey, my ‘insight, dedication and resilience’ will well serve the administration of justice,” said Gaya.
According to the tribunal, “clients, and our society as a whole,” will benefit from Gaya’s career as a lawyer.