Agreement and disagreement


The opposition parties aren’t agreed as to whether Justice Frank Iacobucci, or seemingly any independent advisor or arbiter, should have a role in Parliament’s review of detainee documents. Meanwhile, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, the chief of the defence staff and a man the Defence Minister seems to trust, is asked if he’s worried about detainee documents being reviewed.

CBC News asked Natynczyk on Thursday, “Do you have any fears of people poring over those documents?”

Natynczyk responded: “Not at all, not at all.”


Agreement and disagreement

  1. I agree in so far as that non-parliamentarians shouldn't have a decision making roll, I do not see a problem with having a legal expert advising the committee or other parliamentary body.

  2. Frank Iacobucci should not play any role as document gatekeeper.

    • He isn't. He is an advisor who will be issuing a report to Parliament. Parliament may choose to abide by or amend or disregard his work entirely.

      • Currently, Justice Iacobucci has one client`: the Minister of Justice. And, unless otherwise specifically mentioned, one must assume solicitor/client privilege applies.

  3. Well obviously Natynczyk is biased… he's on CBC. ;)

  4. Most of the commentary on this issue casts it as negotiations between the government and the combined opposition parties. But is seems to me that this isn't the case.

    All the government needs is for one other party to agree to vote against a contempt motion, or two parties to abstain. They'll probably make a show of negotiating with the combined opposition, but in reality they'll be trying to publicly divide the opposition and negotiate with each of the parties separately. It's hard to imagine what he could offer any of the parties to convince them to vote with the government on a contempt motion though.

  5. This opposition? Some shiny beads would probably do the trick.

  6. OK, I'll be the first to say it.

    Why does Natynczyk hate the troops?

  7. Although Harper may try a divide and conquer strategy, I'm not entirely sure it would be a good idea for any of the opposition parties.

    I'm just speaking hypothetically, but suppose the Conservatives allow the Liberals to see the documents (with the condition that they be sworn to secrecy), and the NDP and Bloc are shut out of the entire process.

    Now that the Liberals can see the documents, they can no longer speak about their contents. The NDP and Bloc, sans gag order, are free to continue to demand publicly that the documents be released, and can now criticize both the Conservatives AND the Liberals on the issue. The Liberals would risk losing votes to the NDP/Bloc if this were to happen, and I don't see how they could pick up any support from the Conservatives in the process.

    Analogously, if the Tories allowed the NDP to see them, they risk losing votes to the Liberals/Bloc. And there's no way the Tories would allow only the Bloc to see them – the cries of an "unholy coalition" would surely be turned back on them.


  8. Just a reminder, with the exception of Iggy for Dion, this is the triumvirate of wisdom that could be ruling Canada right now, but for the PM's courage a year and a half ago. Can any of the libs or lefties here imagine the state our country would be in today had the coalition moved forward?

    Hint: You would feel morally superior to everyone as you applied for EI or welfare, your taxes would be rising like the hot air from the IPCC and our allies wouldn't come to help if we were invaded or attacked, for fear their private messages would be political fodder. I'm almost embarrassed for the utter incomprehension so many posters here have for what makes the wheels go round in Ottawa. pretty sad commentary on both the media and the education system. Incapable of rational though or independant analysis the herd is whipped to frenzies of outrage by twitter and facebook aparatchiks with either/or propositions in stark black and white…no nuance just good and evil…even a crappy printer will do 164 shades of grey.

  9. I know who should peruse the documents and decide which are released publicly: a commons committee. To allow anything else is to fail to defend the legitimacy of Parliament.

  10. There's a point here that I think some people are failing to grasp, and that I believe even the Speaker addressed during his decision. He didn't rule that MP's are the best arbiters of what documents should and shouldn't be made public. He ruled that the House gets to decide what process to put in place to ensure national security in releasing said documents. So, if the House decides that Libby Davies never gets to decide the issue, then so be it. Her rights as an MP are subject to the whims of majority House rule, too. In other words, individual MP's don't trump everything else, either, as some here seem to be suggesting. So, for example, having Iacobucci report to Parliament instead of the government (and not the "Tories", as on lazy news report indicated recently), by consent of the House, is a perfectly legit adherence to the Speaker's ruling — despite what you may think of the merits of such an accommodation.

  11. "He didn't rule that MP's are the best arbiters of what documents should and shouldn't be made public."

    You're right. He ruled that MP's (collectively) are the ONLY arbiters of what documents should and shouldn't be made public.

    "having Iacobucci report to Parliament instead of the government, by consent of the House, is a perfectly legit adherence to the Speaker's ruling."

    Again, you're right. Any process (or even lack of process) is "legit" as long as a majority of the House accepts it.

  12. He doesn't care because the documents are in a shipping container and will take years to dig up?

  13. No. He ruled that the House decides what process can take place, and that process could involve no MP's deciding what is and what isn't made public.

    Quite frankly, that's always been my preference. I don't want some of those opposition Yahoos getting their grubby fingers on some of this stuff. Seriously. And I'm sure many opposition supporters think the same about Harper and his gang. So, get someone trustworthy and independent to do it. Or a panel of them.

  14. Damn it. Beat me to it :-)

  15. Having a non-parliamentarian involved seems to defeat the argument that Parliament is supreme.

  16. The Speakers ruling would be sidestepped since a majority of the House would no longer be asking to see the documents. The NDP could declare victory by forcing an inquiry and holding the government to account, and as long as an election call came before too long they could minimize the charge that they were propping up the Harper government. The Conservatives could claim to be sticking to their promise of "accountability". It would remove the issue from the radar until the inquiry really got going, and then the Conservatives could spin the conclusions as mistakes made by both the Conservatives and the Liberals.

  17. In fact, now that I think about it, the Liberals might want to suggest that Iacobucci be a part of a three or more member panel, with the Liberals and Conservatives mutually agreeing upon the additional members. Seems fairly conciliatory, and maybe something to boast about – if you don't care what Jack and Gilles think, of course.

    • Oooh, nice try at dividing the opposition, Dennis F! Seriously, that was very good because it actually has some rationality to it. I think it's an excellent suggestion, but amended so that the NDP and Bloc also have a say. Of course, at this point my preference is still the commons committee sworn to secrecy and in camera.

  18. Interesting, but I wonder about two things:

    1) I'm not convinced Harper would be willing to allow a full inquiry to take place – the government's behaviour on the issue so far (in my opinion, granted) suggests either the gov't is acting very irrationally, or there is something truly awful in those documents that a full inquiry would bring out and tie an albatross around the Tories' neck in the same way the Gomery Inquiry is still hurting the Liberals. Otherwise I don't see why he doesn't just let the documents be viewed in camera and the opposition can discover there's nothing troubling.

    2) Even if a full inquiry were launched, given that the Liberals have called for an inquiry as much as the NDP, I don't see how this outcome could be framed in such a way that it is an NDP victory only. If it came to this, the Liberals would surely back down from the contempt motion too and claim some victory on the matter.

  19. Here's one hypothetical scenario:

    Lets say the NDP calculate that they are not likely to gain votes from former Conservatives disillusioned with their party (who may be most likely to stay home). The NDP also calculates that if the country doesn't take to Ignatieff and the Liberals are embarrassed or made to look incompetent, the NDP can peel off some of their support. There was an article on Macleans not long ago about the similarity of their positions on many issues.

    The Conservatives will be looking for a way out of this mess that minimizes their embarassment at keeping things secret, and that also has the possibility of throwing mud at the Liberals who set up the inadequate detainee transfer in the first place. The NDP works with the Conservatives to call a full inquiry (with subpeona power) on detainees going back to the beginning. Conservatives could say "we've been saying all along that a full inquiry is expensive and unnecessary, but if the Opposition feels it's necessary we'll respect that decision."

    • Well, yeah, but since the Liberals have already called for a full inquiry going back to 2001, I don't see how the Conservatives and NDP getting together to do as the Liberals suggest makes it look bad for the Liberals.

  20. Reading way too much into what I wrote, Jenn. Just basically reflecting current developments. That's all. Not quite sure why some here are so eager to have partisan MPs get their hands on this stuff.

  21. Well, according to the rules, partisan MPs can get their hands on this stuff if they vote for themselves the privilege. Canadian history has been able to trust the judgment of the House, however, that hundreds of copies of sensitive papers would NOT be circulating all over Parliament Hill. I am holding out ever fainter and fainter hope that this collection of MPs may be similarly trusted.

  22. If I'm reading your post correctly, I think we're in agreement. Maybe 20 years ago something like that could have been done. But, today, I think the atmosphere has become too partisan.

    Again, not sure why anybody would be against someone independent going over the documents, then handing them over to MPs.

    It's almost as though MPs want to go through them first to see what would be most potentially scandalous, which is itself scandalous.

  23. Sorry, Dennis, just reading the comments thread from the beginning may have given you more credit than your comment would otherwise deserve. And while the cynical side of me agrees with MYL, perhaps that cynicism is the very reason why our MPs are the sorry motley collection they appear to be. Or in other words, let us give them the chance to to rise to the behaviour we expect of them, by giving them better expected behaviour.

  24. Justice Frank Iacobucci,……again? Why does it seems to be that there is only one man in all of Canada capable of sequestering the truth and shedding light.

  25. What do you mean again? He's already on the job. Funny how some are so willing to question a former justice's reputation when their politics are threatened.

  26. That kind of privilege would only apply if he was hired as legal counsel, wouldn't it? And, as far as I know, he wasn't, was he? He was hired to determine which documents in question could be released without contravening national security. He was not hired as an advocate of the government, or to protect their interests.

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