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Why is Iacobucci playing along?

Iacobucci was hired to ‘review’ the detainee documents


 
Why is Iacobucci playing along?

Photograph by Adrian Wyld/ CP

As the Watergate scandal deepened, the U.S. Senate struck a committee to investigate. Headed by Sen. Sam Ervin, it had broad powers to subpoena documents and compel evidence, together with a staff of investigators and legal counsel.

On July 13, 1973, Alexander Butterfield, Richard Nixon’s deputy assistant, told committee staff that discussions in the Oval Office were routinely tape-recorded. Before long, judge John J. Sirica had launched proceedings to force the president to hand over the tapes. Nixon refused, citing executive privilege, but in the end complied with a Supreme Court ruling ordering their release, with consequences that are well known.

But suppose the U.S. Congress functioned like Canada’s Parliament, and Nixon had the powers, not of a president, but of a prime minister of Canada. The committee, uncertain of its jurisdiction and with little in the way of staff or resources, would very likely never have learned of the tapes’ existence. Had it persisted with its inquiries, Nixon could have shut down the committee, and the Congress with it. And, rather than defend his case in court, Nixon could have hired a former Supreme Court judge to “advise” him on whether to release the tapes. And that would more or less be that.

I don’t mean to imply the situations are directly comparable. But you will agree that the issues involved in the Afghan detainee affair—whether Canadian forces were directed to transfer prisoners to Afghan jails, either with reckless disregard for the likelihood they would be tortured, or in the certain knowledge that they would—are of the most serious kind. Perhaps you will also agree, therefore, that the handling of the case to date shows, yet again, how weak is our capacity to hold governments to account in this country. No, this isn’t Watergate. But if it were, how would we know?

It is now four months since Richard Colvin’s explosive testimony before the Commons special committee on Afghanistan. It is three months since Parliament demanded, by formal vote, that the government hand over all documents related to his testimony, in full, without redactions. It is more than two months since the government prorogued Parliament rather than comply, and two weeks since Parliament returned. And we are no closer to seeing the documents than we were before. Frankly, that is now the more pressing issue: whether the government is answerable to Parliament, or not.

The latest instalment in this saga, the hiring of retired Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci as an “independent adviser” to the government, is in some ways the most troubling. It is as if, rather than openly defy the norms and institutions of democratic accountability, the government has now chosen to parody them. Though he is, according to his terms of reference, to “review” those parts of the documents that are “proposed to be withheld from release,” and to “make recommendations” as to which of these might be “disclosed,” Iacobucci may see only those documents the government chooses to provide him. He has no powers to subpoena any others, nor is the government under any compulsion to follow his recommendations.

So nothing has really changed. The government is still reserving to itself the right to decide whether and on what terms it will be accountable to Parliament. Only now it has hired some high-priced legal talent to advise it. To make this credible, it is relying on public confusion on a couple of key points.

The first involves just who the information is to be “disclosed” to. The terms of reference suggest the issue is whether it should be released to the general public and the wider world, with whatever implications this might have for national security or international relations. But no one is proposing it should be released to the public: only to Parliament. And everyone agrees that sensitive information would be reviewed only in camera, by MPs sworn to secrecy.

Second, it hopes to obscure the difference between advice and adjudication. Iacobucci is not conducting a judicial inquiry, and has none of its powers. Yet he may give the appearance of doing so, and for one reason: because he once sat on the Supreme Court. He wasn’t just hired for his legal expertise. The government hopes to acquire the legitimacy of a Supreme Court ruling in support of its defiance of Parliament, without actually having to go to court to get one.

And they’re getting away with it! Rather than enforce its own resolution, the opposition has been busying itself with a new demand, that Iacobucci be asked to conduct a full-blown public inquiry into the Afghan detainees affair. But that is a diversion from the broader issue of responsibility to Parliament. More than that, it’s a confession of impotence: in any self-respecting Westminster democracy, Parliament has all the powers it needs to investigate such matters itself.

Well, perhaps that’s to be expected; it at least has the virtue of honesty. What I cannot understand is why Iacobucci would allow himself to be used in this way. He has placed himself in the middle of a nasty power struggle between the legislative and the executive branches, only not in the position of independent arbitrator, as on the court of which he was once a member, but as a paid adviser to one side. And he has potentially placed the existing members of the court, should it come to that, in the position of having to rule against one of their own. It is a surprising error of judgment.


 

Why is Iacobucci playing along?

  1. You might need an update to this post, Andrew, in light of the 3 opposition parties point of privilege demanding unredacted docs be turned over.

    • Andrew's been scooped. But it is a good question, one i've been wondering about – just what is ex Supreme Court Justice Iacobucci thinking?

      • Be fair: This was likely "put to bed" a while ago for publication. Andrew hasn't been scooped. His points about the opposition were fair game when submitted for publication.

        • $600/hour is lower than the going rate. This is not an issue.

          • I don't think anyone would fault him for charging that.

            I think the problem is Harper choosing to pay that instead of comply with Parliament.

          • You have to know they're hiding something bad, then. Harper doesn't trust Canadians, so why should we trust him?

          • Agree.
            The world is watching Harper is bumbling. I wonder if this is what brings him down.

        • Who? Andrew or Iacibucci?

    • I think this was precisely the right line to take for the print edition, as no matter what happens these next seven days, Iaco will undoubtedly be used as Govt shield, and that must be exposed as the dangerous farce it is. These parodies of democratic institutions and workings have a nasty history.

  2. But no one is proposing it should be released to the public: only to Parliament. And everyone agrees that sensitive information would be reviewed only in camera, by MPs sworn to secrecy.

    You call "public confusion" the very real concern that this will somehow protect sensitive information from becoming public knowledge. MPs sworn to secrecy, eh? So let me guess. Your media entity will immediately report to the RCMP whatever "wishes-to-remain-anonymous" source sends you copies in a brown envelope? And all other law-abiding entities will behave similarly? Riiiiight.

    • Your argument is that because they *may* not obey the law and promises they're bound to, we should treat the situation as if they won't.

      I'm sure you'd raise one hell of a hue and cry were we to treat the average citizenry in the same way. Because they *may* not obey the laws about planning treasonous activities, we should bug everybody's phones to find out.

      • Well, yeah, I am presuming the info in a bunch of partisan MPs' hands will be in the public domain pretty quickly. It's a position I have held and argued for quite a while. Ane even if the pages DON'T end up in a brown envelope on a reporter's desk, I can easily inagine the privileged MP's off-the-record commentary: "Well, as you know, I have been sworn to secrecy, so I can not give you any specifics, but, hoo boy, it's even worse than we could imagine and I see why these non-transparent Tories would do everything possible to keep this embarrassing information away from the voters." Etc. Etc.

        And as to your point (unrelated to the protection of sensitive information): you bet I would raise a hue and cry about bugging everybody's phones.

        • Except, as I've pointed out elsewhere, the only MPs who have a track record of being lax with documents and information pertaining to national security are Harper Cabinet members.. specifically Bernier and Guergis.

          • being lax with documents

            Oh, please. This isn't a question of sloppy document handling; they'd be intentionally leaked by opposition MPs to friendly, Harper-hating reporters within hours.

          • Can you point to any documents pertaining to national security being released by the opposition?

            After all, I can point to the government releasing documents to the BCCLU with less redaction than those forwarded to the MPCC committee. I can point to government appointed board members releasing confidential documents to Ezra and nowhere else.

            Really, it seems the only ones with the tendancy of releasing sensitive documents to outside agencies is Harper's folks.

          • "Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh (Vancouver South, Lib.):
            Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wish to inform you and the House that I inadvertently tweeted about matters that I ought not to have tweeted about; that is, the in camera proceedings of the defence committee. That was an error on my part and that entry will be deleted at the earliest possible opportunity, which is right after I get out of here.

            The Speaker:
            I thank the hon. member. I assume that tweeting means it went on Twitter."

            http://www2.parl.gc.ca/housechamberbusiness/Chamb

          • Perhaps you have difficulty reading. I specifically said, "pertaining to national security".

          • "in camera proceedings of the defence committee" may pertain to national security but maybe you had difficulty reading that part.

          • Perhaps you should go read what he actually twitted. Here, because I obviously can't expect you to do your own research:

            ""The Bloq thwarted the Liberal motion at the Defence Committee re investigating the Detainees issue. New Coalition partner w/Cons. #cdnpoli"

            Wow.. just think.. 30 seconds with Google could have saved you that burning sensation as you realize you look like an idiot.

    • You may traffic cocaine.

      Therefore, we are going to lock you up just to be safe.

      Someone has to protect the children from you.

      • Nope.

        You run a very real risk of suffering a smash-and-grab if you leave valuables locked up in your car, especially if you leave them visible on the dashboard. So you either remove them from view when you leave them in your locked car, or you take them with you.

        Spot the difference?

        • Your argument is based on the assumption that Members of Parliament will commit treason given the opportunity (which I think is the charge for breaking such oaths of secrecy).

          You do see the problem with such an assumption, right?

          By such reasoning, the Government of Canada can never be held to account for anything at anytime because it may be a matter of national security.

          And having a consultant, regardless of his previous title, examine papers submitted by the government is perhaps the lamest thing a government could do, when it looks like they are trying to cover something up.

        • You may speed or drive under the influence, therefore we will suspend your driver's licence.

    • The central point of this discussion is that Parliament is the highest authority in the land, comprised of our ELECTED representatives. If Parliament is not provided with ANY information by the government, the government is not accoutable to the citizens of this country. We believe in a democracy that our governments are accountable to those who elect them. Harper has demonstrated that he does not understand or chooses to ignore the authority of Parliament through countless actions culminating in this, after four years. Watch out.

  3. And he has potentially placed the existing members of the court, should it come to that, in the position of having to rule against one of their own.

    If the SCOC is incapable of disagreeing with a private citizen who happened to sit on the SCOC, the error of judgment rests with the sitting members, not with the former member.

    • I think Coyne's point is the opposite. Surely the SCC would have no problem disagreeing with him if they thought proper, so why would he subject himself to that embarrassment?

      • Maybe as a genuine legal scholar, he wouldn't find it embarrassing, should it happen.

    • Let me quote from Norman Spector, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Mulroney:

      "If the nine Justices are forced to choose between a process that has their former colleague determining whether officials went too far in censoring the documents in the name of national security, and Derek Lee's arcane views of parliamentary privilege, the score will resemble one of those lopsided results we saw during the Olympics in women's hockey."

      If that sort of perception exists, we have a problem, regardless of whether such considerations actually influence the judges' decision or not.

      • I confess that I don't follow precisely which way Spector argues the lop would side. I am guessing which way, but I am not sure.

        If Spector believes the SCOC would defer to Iacobucci's work, trusting that he knows what he's doing, and just plain forgetting that we have a Constitution that deals with so much more than the terms of reference handed to him, then Spector's got a very dim view of the SCOC.

        If Spector believes that the SCOC would find that Parliamentary supremacy means that Iacobucci's work is irrelevant, and that all documents must be provided, but that they would refrain from saying so because they are afraid to embarrass a former colleague, then he has a very dim view of the SCOC.

        And if you or he believe that such a perception might exist, should the SCOC ever rule against a full and complete disclosure as requested by the House resolution, then you both have a very dim view of Canadians.

        If Spector believes that the lop would side with parliamentary privilege, then what's the problem? (This is why I guess Spector is arguing one of the first two of my scenarios.)

      • Seriously, who cares what Spector thinks about anything? The two or three hundred Canadians who actually know who he is?

        Andrew, you are far too isolated from actual Canadians, and you in the MSM are drinking your own koolaid. It's time all of you wake up and smell the double-double.

  4. //It is three months since Parliament demanded, by formal vote, that the government hand over all documents related to his testimony, in full, without redactions.//

    Parliament has also passed the National Security Act, which is the law of the land. Is Canada a nation of laws, or a tyranny of Parliament, where parliamentarians can override laws on a whim, instead of passing a new law.

    //He has placed himself in the middle of a nasty power struggle between the legislative and the executive branches, only not in the position of independent arbitrator, as on the court of which he was once a member, but as a paid adviser to one side. And he has potentially placed the existing members of the court, should it come to that, in the position of having to rule against one of their own. It is a surprising error of judgment.//

    I disagree. Iocobucci is ruling which documents can be release under the National Security Act. The Supreme Court will be ruling whether the rule of law, the National Security Act, or Parlimentary Privilige (whether parliament is above the law) takes precedence. Two entirely different things.

    • Mr. Iacobucci is not a judge. He is a former judge. As you said, two entirely different things.

    • You've fallen for the bafflegab. Iocobucci is not ruling a god-damned thing. He's providing advice to one side.

      Whether his advice is based on an accurate rendering of the documents to him, or taken thereafter, is entirely at the option of the government under question.

  5. Mr Coyne, are you a "world government" advocate? One fears so, given your evident support of UN auto-awarded prerogatives like determining which country is and which is not prone to torture and what is and what is not torture. As a peripheral issue, is it in order for one to suggest that your magazine do one of its trademark in-depth illuminations of the saintly Mr Colvin?

    • The personal attacks are becoming quite desperate.

      • Re-read the host article if you wish to inform yourself about personal attacks.

        • Aw, gee, one feels gutted. Should one apologize for having interrupted your cosy anti-Harper quilting bee.

          • Absolutely not. Your frothing and foaming is mildly entertaining.

    • ex canuck, you bring up a very important question, that wanting to understand the difference "world governments" and national governments. This problem of making distinctions does not merely plague Canadian writers of, for that matter Canadian political leaders, but plagues most of them operating in the western world.

      The issue of "world governance" needs to be addressed within this Afghan detainee transfer debacle. In fact, it lies at the core of it.

  6. "What I cannot understand is why Iacobucci would allow himself to be used in this way. "

    Everyone in that age/class demographic simply doesn't care about anything other than making sure the status quo they lived in is perpuated after they live. Why *that* is, I don't understand. Perhaps some people are just living too long.

    • "What I cannot understand is why Iacobucci would allow himself to be used in this way. "

      Iacobucci has allowed himself to be used in exactly this way before, during the Iacobucci Inquiry (http://www.iacobucciinquiry.ca/). The Justice Minister decided to redact information that showed CSIS submitted questions to foreign agents who were torturing a Canadian citizen.

      After two years, the info was pried out of the minister's hands by the SCOC. Only then did we find out that Iacobucci had recommended the information be released.

      I'm sure the Conservatives are counting on the same kind of deference from Iacobucci in the future. He's the perfect fig leaf.

    • And you accuse me of engaging in personal attacks!

  7. Iacobucci is not ADVISING on any of the issues that the Supreme Court will be asked to decide upon.

    Iacobucci is advising on the National Security Act. The SCOC will be deciding whether the National Security Act or Parlamentary Privilige takes precedence.

    Satisfied.

    • Um… the SCOC is not involved in this.

  8. Andrew, you've got it absolutely right! Parliament is the highest Court, bar none. Mr.'s MacKay, Nicholson and Cannon are in contempt, and ought to experience a bit of their own tough-on-crime medicine.

  9. Iacobucci must be made to recuse.

    • Why? His job MAY be rendered moot by present goings-on. But the goings-on may lead nowhere, and all that will have been achieved is the delay of his "expeditious" process.

    • Iacobucci is not a judge. Thus he cannot recuse himself.

  10. Is this really the best the Canadian citizen can expect ?:A near Dictator for a Prime Minister and a self-aggrandizing, wishy-washy waffling Opposition. Good night Canada ! Should you ever wake up, it might be too late !

  11. Still a valid question. Justice Iacobocci should take this moment to step aside as Parliament will make his work mute. That way he can save face while not appearing to take a partisan position on the point of privilege facing the House of Commons. Perhaps an MP could bring a motion arising to call for abandonment of the mandate to Iacobocci.

  12. Iacobucci not as spelled above- Apologies to the former Justice of the Supreme Court

    • Why don't you just use the edt function. That's what it is there for.

      • No registration = no editing capabilities.

  13. It probably will be before this is over.

  14. And he has potentially placed the existing members of the court, should it come to that, in the position of having to rule against one of their own. It is a surprising error of judgment.

    This is a weak argument. Anything of a legal nature that Iacubucci undertakes potentially could end up before the Supreme Court.

  15. "No, this isn't Watergate. But if it were, how would we know?"

    That's a chilling thought. But thankfully the opposition parties are now standing up for democracy and accountability and the supremacy of Parliament, all three of them tabling motions that the Harper government's continued refusal to release the documents to MPs is a breach of parliamentary privilege. This is heading towards Contempt of Parliament.

    We the people have the right to hold our government accountable through our elected representatives, and the Harper government is going to extreme lengths to deny us that right.

  16. And, why is it that there has not been one word from Iacobucci on his appointment? He doesn't need to reveal state secrets to tell Canadians why he accepted this task which, by some accounts, he will be spending at least a year to complete.

    • Not sure he needs to. Address your Q's to the people who hired him.

      • Sure, but given all the controversy, maybe he could put our minds at ease…or somethin'

  17. Reportedly, some of the same documents were redacted differently when filed in the Amnesty court case than when they were submitted to the MPCC. Obviously you can't disclose something one day and then redact the next and claim national security implications.

    If the Conservatives were actually sincere about getting advice from Iacobucci they would have asked him to recommend a better framework for determining what should and shouldn't be disclosed and who should (and shouldn't) be in on the redacting.

  18. I think that the opposition is trying to put us on a very slipp-ery slope. Suppose they win the fight and can see any document, Government or otherwise that they choose to demand. They could demand Cabinet Minutes, Military Operation Orders and more. That would be a disaster that even Mr. Coyne would wish to avoid. The Executive Branch has its' perogatives as does the Legislative. That's how it was set up in 1867. Let the former SCOC Justice do his job.

    • The opposition trying to put us on a slippery slope, you think?

      What to think of NDP motion to have PM right to ask for prorogation subjected to a seven day clause by Parliament. As if a simple vote in the house could take PM powers away that easily. But of course, if Harper (or any future PM) does not bind him or herself by the NDP motion, all hell will break loose, because you see, the PM is at it again, not listening to the voice of Parliament. Good grief, how simplistic are Canadian politics becoming?

  19. Okay, the government agrees a committee of MPs gets to see all documents, all documents are unredacted. The committee members are sworn to secrecy. They see that awful, embarrassing and illegal activities have been conducted and were known to be conducted by either or both of the Liberal and Conservative governments. Political, military, diplomatic personnel are all seen to be complicit directly or in the cover up.

    So what happens? The committee members are sworn to secrecy so they can only talk to each other? Isn't the final result simply an information session for those on the Committee? More comparable to the kerfuffle in the US about Nancy Pelosi being informed of waterboarding, but unable to speak of it because the information came during a secret national security briefing.

    Only in a minority government.

    • If they find out the redactions were motivated by political vs. national security considerations, the oath of secrecy doesn't apply.

      At that point the committee "invites" the government officials responsible to appear in front of the committee and explain who requested the documents be redacted and on what basis. They could also ask why same documents were redacted differently when supplied to the federal court vs. the MPCC vs. the committee.

      The small questions are almost more important than the big one about torture, because they are about whether the government is acccountable for its decisions.

    • What happens is the committee decides what gets revealed and what really needs to be redacted, the government files an injunction and the whole thing lands in a real court of law.

  20. You "don't mean imply that it is directly comparable", but you do compare it to one of the biggest scandals involving a democratic government in the past 50-100 years.

    What kind of journalism is this?

    • Visit here more often……………..then ask yourself that question again!

      • Care to suggest somewhere where the journalism is so much better?

        • In Canada?……………………nope! The NP is far more balanced than most, but sadly still not good.
          Canadian Journalists in general are the equivalent of Pravda, being the propaganda arm of the Liberals;)
          Disturbingly, most Canadians are shallow enough to swallow this crap!

          • Ah so think we need our own version of fox eh?

          • If that's what it takes to balance the wackjobs……………………. then YES!
            Although I would rather our media would just grab a collective brain!
            Or do you prefer censorship on any other view other than your own?

  21. Right – first start off with a hyperbole of a comparison – then say that "well that really isn't a comparison" – and conclude by questioning the man's judgement. Great piece, Andy.

    • Well see Andrew is what in the media as a commentator or editorialist (quite popular in Canadian media), meaning he has risen to position where he is no longer bothered with having to investigate his story or provide any sources – he simply says whatever he wants.

    • You beat me to it!
      Another piece of used toilet paper by Coyne!
      If you like the American system so much ( I'm sure not, but useful fodder for this trashy piece) move there!

    • Read it again. He starts off by saying the US system worked, then moved on to wondering what might have happened had Nixon had to contend with our system – that's the comparisan. Was that really so hard now!

      • But Watergate has aboslutely nothing to do with this. It's a sleazy way by Coyne to create the impression that it does, and so it will leave such impression with the reader while reading the rest of the article. It;s sneeky and unprofessional.

        Many readers do not realize when this is being done to them but it's called :"setting the tone of a piece" and any unsuspecting reader will be fooled by this tactic being used. I thihk Coyne is very aware of how this sort of tone setting works, and that is the part which disturbs me a great deal.

  22. JTeller:

    >>"What I cannot understand is why Iacobucci would allow himself to be used in this way. " <<

    $600.00 or more an hour. What part of that don't you get?

  23. Lost in all of this is the hypocrisy of Stephen Harper as Reform MP, NCC Chair and then Opposition Leader whining for years on end about the supremacy of Parliament over the courts and "judge made law" etc.

    • It's normal behaviour for Strausians like Harper (trained by the ultimate Strausian, Tom Flanagan). The philosophy can be summed up as follows: The little people are too stupid for their own good, and will hate our enlightened policy, so we will have to lie to them and trick them and pretend we're just like them (Tim Horton's anyone?) so that when we get power we can drag them kicking and screaming into our brave new world. No parliament can be allowed to get in our way once we have power.

    • Please name one instance where Stephen Harper was whining about the Supremacy of Parliament.

  24. The Opposition is asking that the documents be released to the members of the Special Committee – not to all parliamentarians.

    There is nothing new in this. I have for years watched the proceedings of the Defense committee. They go behind closed doors whenever sensitive information is discussed.

    • "Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh (Vancouver South, Lib.):
      Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I guess this is a day for apologies.

      The House may remember the matter of Twitter and the tweeting that I apologized about last Tuesday, and that was an error on my part. Subsequently that day I was approached by the media to talk about the nature of the three different motions, one having been before the defence committee in camera. The motion itself was public. The other two motions by two members before the special committee on Afghanistan were also public.

      I discussed those motions, the broadness or the narrowness of the individual motions, but there is a genuine belief on the part of some members that doing so was part of the same transaction of disclosure that occurred on Twitter.

      While I may disagree, there are certain members who hold that belief genuinely, and I respect that, and I believe an apology is due from me and one is made sincerely. If members believe that I made an error then I was in error, and I accept full responsibility. I apologize to the House and to the committee."

      • Don't suppose you have a date or link to that? It indicates at the very least, that the LPC's chief bulldog has no idea of what is, and what is not privileged information. Which bears directly on the issue, does it not?

        For the record, I want it stated very clearly the difference between whistleblowing, leaking privileged information, and outright handling of documents of national security for matters outside that limited mandate. I think that some are hoping if they shake the tree long enough, something juicy might fall out, utterly without regard to the implications for people STILL ON THE GROUND!

    • And what about the BLOC members,
      they want to destroy Canada, you want them to see secret documents?

    • But what if the Opposition members of the Special Committee determine that the Harper gov't were complicit in "war crimes" .. i.e. knowingly allowed Canadian soldiers to turn over detainees to Afghan authorities who subsequently tortured and abused them? Should those Opposition MPs stay silent and themselves become complicit in covering up "war crimes" … or should they come out in public and reveal the contents of the documents that lead them to that conclusion?

      Take it all to a logical conclusion … what happens next ..???

  25. Canada has a totally dysfunctional system to address situations of national security.

    The example provided by the republic to the south has the military and spy agencies prepare reports that are presented to selected members of both national parties represented in congress.

    What is presented is done so in secrecy and while I am not certain should any information be leaked from these briefings there likely would be charges of treason.
    Canada had an in camera meeting and the Liberal representative Dosanjh was twittering on the the private proceedings. He is still a member of parliament has, not be censured for his actions or mentioned in discussions by Mr. Coyne.

    How in the world can the opposition parties pretend that they would be able to know things that were damaging to the CPC but were really issues of national security.

    Justice Icaboucci can see the dilemma and has offered to provide his reputation and life's works in providing a solution.

    My solution would to have reporting to all party representatives of parliament with the penalty of disclosure so severe that it would force honour among our politicians.

    • Could you imagine the hue and cry if a separatist MP was identified as a security leak and his party were fined $10M and lost public funding for 5 years he be jailed for life with no chance of parole for 20 years?

      They might try that to kick start the sovereignty movement. The logic being Canada's secrets are not Quebec's secrets.

      • We already have a hue and cry. Retired generals and Christie Blatchford got a look at the documents. Julie Couillard had some of them for a few weeks. Amnesty International and the MPCC each got different versions of the same documents. Peter Mackay confirmed publicly (to Canadian Press) that one of the redactions referred to CSIS. (When is he being charged under the Official Secrets Act by the way?)

        And you're worried that elected MP's responsible for studying the issue might not be careful? Does Voice of Reason mean something different in BC?

        • Ms. Blatchford got the redacted documents…. you know the ones that were held up to the cameras to prove a point and hope that there really wasn't anything important on them.

          My guess you would be venturing into uncharted territory with anything to do with reason.

  26. I wonder how many of the tapes that had to be handed over were relevant to the Watergate probe and how many were just titillating and very useful for partisan interests? If parliament is to be supreme it must also be responsible and there is nothing in the Liberal/NDP Afghan questions that strikes me as a responsible inquiry. Does Mr. Coyne truly believe that any documents that do intrude on National security will not be leaked if there is partisan advantage to be gained? Maybe Iaccobucci is playing along because he believes that national security should be considered seriously before we give separatists, pacifist agitators, communist organizers, and assorted other nutjobs documents that could end up killing people. Maybe Iaccobucci thinks reminding MPs of their responsibilities is a good idea at a time when they seem only to care about their privileges.

    I trust Iggy, let him read them.

    • Rat, again, the opposition is asking that the documents be released to a very small group, the members of the Special Comittee – NOT TO THE PUBLIC AND NOT TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS!

      There are twelve MPs, including government-side MPs in that Committee, I believe.

    • "…communist organizers…"

      Oh god!!!

      • Yeah, sorry, but that secret tweeting ex-commie UjjieDosanjh – oh wait, isn't he one of the 12 MPs you want to release the documents to? Maybe you're not from BC but I remember a certain backstab for personal interest here. You could ask Glen Clarke what that was.

  27. Good question. Since the Judge would be the first to admit how limited and pointless are his terms of reference, I can think of no reason for him to do this other than, despite his no doubt comfy pension, that he (or his family) wants/needs the money.

  28. This entire matter – the possible torture of Afghan detainees – could lead to criminal indictments against Canada for alleged war crimes. Charges could possibly be laid against every Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Chief of Defence responsible for Canadian forces in Afghanistan since 2002 when Canada entered the conflict. Much is at stake. Unsurprisingly, the government has hired someone it believes to be a good lawyer for advice on what documents (evidence?) should be released. Parliament, meanwhile, allows the government to stonewall. Again, hardly surprising since the Liberals, which now lead the Opposition, are knee deep in the mud along with the Conservatives. The Liberals, after all, first committed the country to the Afghan conflict. Throughout the war, respective Liberal and Conservative administrations have maintained a cost-saving policy not to house captured combatants (er, detainees). This is war on the cheap, like renting air lift to get troops to the battlefield. Canada may regret such penurious policy and its manifest risks. As a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Canada could find itself compelled to give evidence to that body. Thus, the entire affair could be removed from domestic politics and placed in the hands of ICC investigators. At that point, former Justice Iacobucci may be retained for the defence, and the spat between the executive and legislative branches of government would be moot. Canadians, Andrew Coyne among them, might then be wondering why their government surrendered its sovereignty to a group of judges and prosecutors in the Hague.

    • If worse came to worse, I fear that there would be civil unrest in Canada … and those who are demanding "war criminals" be prosecuted would be in grave danger. The country would shatter.

      • You seem to think Canadians are OK with torture. That we've forgotten why our soldiers went to Germany in WWII. That all those new Canadians who've come hear to escape torture and a dictatorship are OK with torture. That Canadians will riot in the streets to save Peter Mackay from going to the docks in Geneva. I think (hope, pray) you're sadly mistaken.

  29. Okay .. so all the redacted documents are unredacted and all the MPs have access to them … what next?

    Let's assume that the gov't of the day was looking the other way over torture and abuse of Afghan detainees .. what next?

    A war crimes tribunal in Canada so that all federal politicians, civil servants and soldiers are charged accordingly?

    Should all those suspected of being complicit in "war crimes" be apprehended and placed under arrest?

    Coyne … please tell us how you think things will play out if all this comes to past.

    • Not all MPs will have access to them, just an in camera parliamentary committee under oath would review them. If there are individuals implicated in what, by international definition (and declarations we've signed) are war crimes, those individuals could find themselves under arrest. If Canada refuses to do it, we could face UN sanctions. You want THAT on this country's record? The country that founded international peacekeeping, that was a leader in banning land minds, establishing conventions and international law around child soldiers, that pushed for sanctions against apartheid south africa? See … this is how Harper is following through with his promise that if he becomes prime mininster you won't recognize the country. It's sickening.

      • oh dear, UN sanctions! the same UN that sponsors Durban? That UN? The oil for food UN?

      • riley … The Afghan mission is a UN mission, so is the UN also complicit of "war crimes" … you can't just stop at the Canadian gov't. Again, what if the Opposition members of the parliamentary committee determine that "war crimes" may have happened … what happens next? Will they be obliged to reveal the content of the documents and also endangering the national security and the safety of soldiers in Afghanistan? Do you want to see Canadian ministers and Canadian army officers being charged of perpetrating "war crimes"???

        • Most people don't think that far ahead.

          And besides, a lot of people seem to think that separated pieces of paper read by various committee members, etc, will string the issues back together. Things cannot be done in that way. I think it is important that one person, in this case a retired SCC judge, looks at the total picture. Because it must be a total picture.

    • A hero for democracy – unopposed by Liberals and NDP………..I repeated it so it might not be missed by all the-renewal-of-democracy crowd………………..

      • What's undemocratic about that? Are the Liberals and the NDP honour-bound to cut their own throats?

  30. I think the reason the Liberals handed over detainees with regret for reasons of political expediency, and probably hoped that they would not be tortured too badly. The Conservatives, on the other hand, likely handed them over happily because they are believers in coercion in general, and wanted them to be tortured.

    • You claim: "The Conservatives, on the other hand, likely handed them over happily because they are believers in coercion in general, and wanted them to be tortured."

      That means all the Canadian officers and soldiers were aware of the torture risk and followed orders from Ottawa (which incidentally is not a valid defence). Doesn't that make them complicit in "war crimes" as well … or do you hold them blameless … and only the Harper Conservative gov't is guilty of perpetrating "war crimes"..???

    • This post is really outrageously biased, perhaps bordering on slanderous. Did you think at all before you wrote?

      • @ex canuck , let me guess …. individual now living in a suburb of Houston, Texas; proud member of the Republican Party (United States) , great admirer of the even greater Sarah Palin, neo-con (French pronunciation) ….

      • Oh, come on now, ex canuck, how long you've been out of the country. Here in Canada we don't do that sort of thing anymore. Thinking? What's that????

  31. "after they live" sb "after they're gone."

  32. The other possibility is that Andrew Coyne and the Parliament will Fight! gang are wrong.

    Read SCC decision Canada (House of Commons) v Vaid (interesting tidbit- Iacobucci was a judge on the Court when Vaid was decided in 2005). The SCC said Parliament is not an enclave from the ordinary law of the law. This is the presumption. Parliamentary privilege may apply in some cases, but it is for the courts to determine the scope of the privilege being claimed, not the Speaker, nor the Law Clerk.

    In this case, it is a legal question whether Parliamentary privilege overcomes the prohibition against release of certain information by the Attorney-General to any "proceeding" (which the Special Committee apparently is because it has the power to demand documents) under sect 38 Canada Evidence Act.

    If the Speaker rules against the Government, then we have a legal matter on our hands. I reckon that the Government would in that case initiate a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada.

    • Sorry, that's "ordinary law of the land."

      • Mea Culpa. Justice Iacobucci retired from SCC on June 30, 2004. So he didn't participate in Vaid case, which is leading SCC jurisprudence on parliamentary privilege.

  33. Moot not mute but interesting mistake ;)

  34. The question has been asked before……….why does being an elected MP have anything to do with your right to see documents that may be secret?

    Do you really want someone like Libby Davies seeing secret documents about cooperation between Israel and CSIS? How long do you think it would be before libby was on the phone with her "Israeli Apartheid Week" buddies and sharing the knowledge with those involved?
    Do you want Bloc MP's seeing Canadian secrets that are meant to keep the country united?

    Really folks…..this is not about openness and transparency, this is about the Opposition parties defending the well-being of terrorists at the expense of the soldiers….and hoping some rubs off on the current Governement.

    Of course…if your a Liberal or NDP supporter….I guess none of that really crossed your mind, and if it did, I guess it didn't matter.

    Oi Vey.

    • What a crock James. The Military Complaints Commissioners had full top security clearance to view these docs and to determine what was best kept out of the public eye, and the government has been refusing to give THEM these documents. The government is also refusing to do a public inquiry, where a judge with subpoena power could demand all docs and then he/she could determine what could or couldnt be released as it pertains to national security (not the sham advisory thing they want a FORMER judge Iacobucci to do) This was what was done in the Maher Arar inquiry with no security ramifications.

      This has nothing to do with protecting terrorists.. and everything to do with protecting the COnservative government from political embarrassment/political damage, or worse, docs that prove they were in complicity with violating int'l law or committing war crimes.

    • We know Maxime Bernier had access – who knows, maybe the Hells Angels too.

    • "why does being an elected MP have anything to do with your right to see documents that may be secret?"

      Because the documents are crucial to their committee work and holding the government to account.

    • Do you want Bloc MP's seeing Canadian secrets that are meant to keep the country united?

      I have no problem at all having Bloc MPs seeing Canadian secrets.

      And, while realizing that we are talking about secrets so details might be sketchy, what types of secrets that are in play in relation to this detainee issue would also be relevant to keeping Canada united?

  35. Inch by inch it's being updated, this Afghan detainee debate.

    "I don't mean to imply the situations are directly comparable……"

    Then why use it in the first place, Mr.Coyne? You understand very well that using such examples as you just did in this write-up will direct the rest accordingly. You set a tone to the article from the get-go, and so I stopped reading it after you admit (after most of the damage has been done……) that indeed: "I don't mean to imply the situations are directly comparable………………"

    Why the need for additional tones being set? Wouldn't your argument be able to stand up without the support of wedged nuances?

    • Too bad you stopped reading. You almost got to the point…____"No, this isn't Watergate. But if it were, how would we know?"

    • '..so I stopped reading it after you admit (after most of the damage has been done……) that indeed: "I don't mean to imply the situations are directly comparable………………"

      Me too,
      but Coyne needs the hits, so it calls for tabloid journaism.
      kady took a large readership with her to CBC.

      • I don't really care who does this sort of comparisson at the beginning of a write-up; it's slanting a story to a particular side and I don't like it. I don't like to see it when Coyned uses it because I thought he would be above doing that sort of thing. I guess I was wrong in that assessment.

        Oh, and I think Kady has her good and bad moments, but one thing is for sure: she's better matched at CBC than she was at Macleans.

        • quit nitpicking and digressing for dog's sake, it's a figure of speech, it's called an analogy, and it's meant to get a point across…. quit dwelling on the form and focus on the content / message…

          • You really don't see the point I'm trying to make? Precisely because Coyne starts off with such coparisson (completely uncalled for) he has tainted the rest of the write up. And you want to talk content/message? Well, I wonder what Coyne's message is, and that would be the content of my complaint.

  36. Right – first start off with a hyperbole of a comparison – then say that "well that really isn't a comparison" – and conclude by questioning the man's judgement. Great piece, Andy.

  37. Mr. Coyne, you're pushing the over played 'right to know' for your own intellectual excercise of supposedly democracy watch..The same hyper ventilation of all media over Prorogation to create news and you justify similarities to US Watergate, which is unjustiiyable. Not one word on the biggest scam of our time? Climategate. Selective journalism is getting sickening and is the cause of turning off the voters. Stand in line behind salivating Tom Clark as he finds a new question to hoist the government on its own petard. All of you are becoming garbage….sick of it… What I wish Harper would do is outlaw the Bloc as a National Party that holds 50 seats in Parliament…Then watch the country go balistic, at least it would be news.

  38. Is the Speaker likely to rule that parliamentary privilege has been breached so as to constitute a ruling of contempt of Parliament? Unlikely.

    Justice Binne quoted (in Vaid case) the Speaker in a ruling on April 29, 1971:

    "On a number of occasions I have defined what I consider to be parliamentary privilege. Privilege is what sets hon. members apart from other citizens giving them rights which the public do not possess. I suggest we should be careful in construing any particular circumstance which might add to the privileges which have been recognized over the years and perhaps over the centuries as belonging to members of the House of Commons. In my view, parliamentary privilege does not go much beyond the right of free speech in the House of Commons and the right of a member to discharge his duties in the House as a member of the House of Commons".

    (House of Commons Debates, vol. V, 3rd Sess., 28th Parl., April 29, 1971, at p. 5338)

    I listened to Bob Rae and Jack Harris on Power Point – they are already looking for a face-saving way out on this.

    • I just saw on Kady's site the quote of Speaker Milliken's ruling of June 8, 2006:

      "In light of … precedent and the statement put forth by the hon. Government House Leader that the security of Canadian soldiers could be jeopardized, I must rule that the Prime Minister is under no obligation to table the document in question."

      It is worth reading in full. I would predict if there is any likelihood of risk to Canadian troops and operations (which is what the Department of Justice is saying), it is unlikely this Speaker will rule that Parliamentary privilege trumps section 38 Canada Evidence Act and/or the convention against disclosure in Parliament of information that would be harmful to Canada and Canada's interests.

  39. Off Topic, sorry, but I wish someone would post an answer to the following question:

    Prorogation marked the end of a session of parliament with the disbanding of committees and an end to the term of the speaker, as well as the death of a number of unpassed bills. So why is Peter Miliken still the Speaker of the House? I like the guy, but what I read about prorogation made it clear he'd be out of a job.

    • Prorogation is the ending of a session, not of a Parliament. Prorogation therefore is not "an end to the term of the speaker"

  40. This issue began with the Liberal governments when the political decision was made to hand over detainees to Afghan authorities. As McCallum likes to say, "nyah…nyah…those discussions are sealed." Why are they sealed?

  41. This story makes two bold assumptions; 1- that there is a conspiracy to hide the facts, and 2- that the judge is party to the conspiracy.

    I think that both assumptions are wrong. Iaccobucci is nobody's fools. I think that if the documents are made public, the Liberals will end up being more embarassed than the Conservatives.

    Drawing a parallel to Watergate is pretty severe and unwarranted. I for one, wish this story would just die already.

    • If you were right about the Liberals being more embarassed than the Conservatives, then the documents would have been released months (if not years) ago.

  42. Have Canadians had enough yet of this Harper government? Because if Harper does not hand over the documents then it should and probably will become a confidence issue and trigger an election.

    Canadians will be asked to go to the polls and if we do not kick these bums out then they will continue to subvert the will of parliament! I refuse to believe that Canadians would succumb to these Conservative tactics and would not vote them out of office.

    Canadians cannot leave Harper and his Conservative gestapo in place to abuse Canadian democracy and thumb their noses at the rule of Parliament, using this institution as their joy toy to play with as they like!

    I'm mad as hell at the Conservatives and I'm not going to take it anymore!

    • It's too bad you're so ill.

  43. So MPs can be trusted to see secret documents that could risk national security,
    but are not allowed to board an airplane without being treated as if they have a bomb in their underwear….strange

    NATO made the rules for handing over detainees to Afghan prison authorities,
    NATO did not call for a stop to any detainee transfers,
    so I guess the brass at NATO are also complicite in war crimes……

    • God, are you ever scrapping the bottom of the barrel.

  44. The arrogance of this government defies belief!!! Time to get rid of it.

  45. Very good article Mr Coyne. As you point out the Canadian system of government does have some flaws, but in the past these flaws have not jeopardized democracy because we had Prime Ministers we could trust to handle the levers of government with respect. The problem now is that we have a government and a Prime Minister who cannot be trusted at all. Our institutions will take a long time to recover, if ever.

    • You're lacking sunshine coaster – you seem to haven forgotten Trudeau, Creatien whom screwed up MY CANADA

  46. Coyne perhaps you would prefer to see the Supreme Court asked for a ruling on the documents. Can you imagine how long such a ruling would take? This is not simply a matter of the government refusing to release sensitive national sucurity documents. Its about protecting Canada.
    Nowhere have you said what would happen if in fact the government was complicit. This took place four years ago. This is war and things bad happen. Yes we could go to the people who are the final arbiters and Harper wins a majority. What then?

  47. This isn't flogging a dead horse. This is digging it up, flogging it, burying it, digging it up again and flogging once more.

    Yes there's a handful of desperate partisans dying to have something ANYTHING to stick to Harper (in place of actual…uhm…substantive realistic government in waiting),

    but the average Canadian looking at this media driven spectacle, are just shaking their heads in disbelief.

  48. Will the opposition be serious about asking the Speaker to get the Sergeant-at-Arms to detain those who refuse to hand over the documents?

  49. What is scary are the polls which give these hide-and-seek artists that much in popular intentions in the face of so much disdain of democracy and accompanying dismantling of its institution by a clutch of faceless and for the most part unelected people!

    As for the opposition, well, what can one say about them when this country's democratic heritage is quickly going down the drain, at the hands of right wing zealots, and the best they can do, besides sitting on their hands, is get so casually deflected by this gang of conmen/women, and wait for it… from a 'minority' regime. And, one could tear his hair out for this, the remedy right there, in the House constitution, available for the taking by the opposition if they had any guts.

    Not that long ago, this would have triggered an insurection and the certain overthrow of this outlaw regime.

    Personaly, I am ashamed to call myself a Canadian under the present circumstances…we've become the laughing stock, not just localy, but the world over. Imagine, gangsters taking over, so easily, a once democratic country on the North American continent…One wonders, if by looking southwards, then longly westwards, if we'd be gazing at 'hidden agenda' territory…

    Meanwhile, we're saddled with a gutless opposition and a gutless electorate for tolerating the proliferation of this dictatorship!

    A pox on all of our houses, we deserve what we get!

    • You need to take a pill man. Next thing we know you will be going postal. Nobody is taking away anybody's rights. Get a grip.
      There is a disagreement between the legislative and executive branches of government and it will be resolved at some point.
      The opposition can take your suggestion and force an election and Harper will be re-elected with a majority government. Then you will have some real reason to whine because those dastardly Conservatives are in charge of the whole shebang including the Senate. So be careful what you wish for.

    • Here's another question. If the opposition thinks they are intitled to see any document they want then why didn't they demand all the documents for Maher Arar as the opposition was accusing the government of a cover up on why he was sent to Syria and by whom. Why not demand all the documents on the Somalia Inquiry which the government shut down because it was getting too uncomfortable for their liking. These are only examples but suddently parliament thinks they can see anything by just demanding it. Are they just blowing smoke. Could be.
      Parliament has passed laws. The government is obligated to follow the law. The government feels national security and privacy laws would be breached if documents were released so that is a legitimate concern. Careful. The next step could be the Supreme Court and then the thing will be dead in the water because the Supremes will take forever to rule.

  50. All of the "do-gooders" and malcontents are happy to snipe at the Prome Minister, this while some of our young men are being killed in Afghanistan! Used to be called Treason, I think.

  51. The larger Canadian public DO NOT care about this issue. The media just don't seem to understand that, but yet they and the other political parties continue to rant on endlessly about it, as they are too lazy to find something else to report.

    The Canadian Army turned over Afghan terrorists who were engaged in a war trying to kill Canadian Soldiers to their own countrymen, the Afghan Army. How Afghanistan chooses to deal with it's own citizens in a time of war and civil unrest should be of little concern to Canada.

    Cont…

  52. It is time we stop being so righteous about these matters. As it stands right now, the majority of Canadian don't care what Afghanistan does to it's own citizens. Imagine for a moment if Canada was in a similar state of affairs as Afghanistan. One where innocent citizens, government officials, police, academics, et al were being attacked on a daily basis and killed in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, and all over the rest of the country. Now, with that imagine and sense of unrest in your mind. If the bleeding hearts peering down from their Ivory Towers would care to take off their rose coloured glasses for a moment, they would realize that if this was the state in our country no one would care what happened to those who were perpetrating these acts of terrorism on our citizens. As such, those fighting against our soldiers, the UN Forces, and the Afghan Army are terrorists, end of story, and should be afforded no mercy. They serve but for one purpose, to overthrow the government of Afghanistan and return it's former state of oppression, where academics and women had no rights. War is ugly people, Canada has live the good life for too long to remember this.

    • Would Coyne and the rest of elites rather that Canada be charged with war crimes? Is that the intent here or is it that there is so much hatred for the current government they will say or do anything to convince the electorate they need to be defeated. Thus far Canadians are not listening. Thank God.
      This is an issue that happened four years ago. The government reacted and negotiated a new agreement. Yet that is not good enough. So here is a hypothetical. What if the government did tell our military to continue the transfers because it was the only alternative available. The opposition could vote non confidence. An election would be held. The government would be re-elected because Canadians are interested in the economy not the Afghans torturing their own. What then? What would have been accomplished?

  53. Harper has done us one big favour. He has demonstated, countless times, that Canada's governmental system has few, if any, checks and balances on a determined autocrat.

    It is time to stop kidding ourselves that we live in a democracy and wake up to the power of large corporations (mostly American) and the religious right.

  54. MPs represent the voices of people, therefore Parliament is supreme. The Government rules at the pleasure of parliament. Since this government has a minority mandate, it can't do as it pleases. If the Government doesn't like Parliament as it is configured, it can go back to the people and ask for the configuration of Parliament that will kowtow to the Government. Canadians have voted twice against that. Harper should either obey Parliament or pleads his case to the people in an election. No more dictatorship.

    • You are being slightly overly dramatic. Dictatorship? Come on give your head a shake.
      If the opposition believes in their over the top rhetoric and their hysterics in the House then they have the power to vote non confidence and cause an election. You know that. It is within their complete control.
      However, they don't have the guts because despite all the white noise Harper's leadership numbers are twice as good as Iffy's and the government in an election mode will focus on their leadership during the recession. That's what Canadians will vote on. Not this silly gamesmanship that the opposition and the government are engaged in. The fact is most Canadians could care less about Afghans torturing Afghans and thats what drives the leftist media and the opposition parties to distraction. Have good day.

  55. The issue the Opposition is proposing is that the Conservatives are turning prisoners over to Aphgan authorities where they " MAY " be tortured Where in the world could we intervene against Terrorists where this situation would differ.Do we give up on trying to train & educate Aphgan police, soldiers, and prison authorities; and set up Canadian run prisons, or bring them to Canada where they would be be entitled to a new trial' legal Counsel, & the opportunity to Refugee status?

    • All of this escapes the rabid partisans on this board, the lefties and of course the lame street media. It is all about getting Harper. None of them cares two hoots about detainees in Afghanistan. Its all about getting Harper. If we set up a prison then it would be considered a gulag. if we turn them over to their own people then there is the possiblity of torture and if we kill them then we are not being humane. The Harper government was faced with the move from Kabul to Kandahar, the killing fields of Afghanistan, intense fighting where our people were being killed by IEDs etc and of course they had to do something with the detainees. What did they have? The Paul Martin/Rick Hillier agreement where the Canadian government thought the Americans would abuse detainees and so decided for some unexplicable reason to turn them over to a barbaric society. They recognized the shortcomings of the agreement and negotiated a new one. None of the critics have offered a solution. Its easy to be an armchair quarterback sitting in comfortable old Canada and saying tsk, tsk. Harper will win this battle and the opposition will be embarassed.

  56. This is an excellent analogy to the Nixon Watergate scandal. Except that in Canada's case, this scandalous behaviour has the tragic consequence of eroding our country's supreme democratic institution itself: Parliament. And it's therefore far more serious in its overall impact than the Nixon thuggery.

    Canadians still recoil from learning that the late Chuck Cadman's family was offered an improper "life insurance" bribe/offer from theTaliban-on-the-Hill that rules us before they became the rulers of the land! The tape was 'doctored' by the two Conservative MPs but the matter was not brought to justice. Instead Harper brought a libel lawsuit against the Liberals!

    Justice Iacobucci has a very difficult judicial balancing act which, as Andrew Cohen correctly points out, is hanging on the wire precariously. In fact, our very own Tricky Stevie (thinks he) has managed to evade justice and a public verdict, once again, and is buying Himself some time on the cheap!

    Making a mockery of Parliament and, now, the Judiciary is inexcusable. The Taliban-on-the-Hill should surrender to our elected representatives the evidence required to make a proper determination. Canada's international obligations and its reputation is in grave danger, as is our form of "democratic" government.

    Time for our Taliban Party in Ottawa to exit the Dark Ages, remove the smokescreen of autocratic slander and "stay in power at any cost" non-ideology, and submit to the will of Parliament. The Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc (and the Greens who represent 10% of Canadians) should DEMAND this.

    If Harper's not willing to submit to Parliament's will, and the opposition parties don't persist in reclaiming Canadians' democratic rights, then let's just declare Canada the "Banana Republic of the North", sit back and join the tea baggers.

    • hollinm continued….

      An election would see the opposition parties decimated because Canadians are interested in the economy and Harper has shown his leadership and Canadians in all leadership polls support him twice as much as Iffy. So be careful what you wish for. Trying to win an election based on another country torturing their own citizens is not a winning strategy.

    • You are being just a little overdramatic here. What's with the name calling. Harper had the right to prorogue whether you, the media and the lefties in the country like it or not. The procedure has been used 105 times since confederation and you don't get to choose whether you like the reason. There is a disagreement between the executive and legislative branches of government. The government must uphold the laws of the land and that means national security and privacy laws. If the opposition thinks it has the right to see any and all documents where were they on the Maher Arar file when the Liberal government allowed Arar to be transferred to Syria to be tortured. Just asking. There are many other instances where documents requested by Parliament have been redacted. This will play out over time but the opposition is playing with fire. Harper could call an election or refer the matter to the Supreme Court and then it will take months maybe even years to get to the bottom of the so called detainee issue.

  57. Prime Minister Harper is being investigated on Afghan torture.

  58. The majority of elected m.p's have demanded that all documents be handed over.Representing the majority of Canadians they have the right to to these documents ,national security be damned.Harper is basically acting like a banana republic dictator.I am sure all are M.P's are smart enough to know the difference between national security and the breaking of the law.If the Liberals are as complicit as the Conservatives we shall find out if Canadians do or do not care about our laws and international law.I am hoping that we are a bit smarter than the right wing down south.

  59. It's all about politics. People tend to do the right thing that they thought they could benefit from, but i believe, it's all still about politics.

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