Not that ITQ would quibble with him if he did, mind you — not after what we heard this morning, at least. Check back at 2:30 pm for full liveblogging coverage.
(In the meantime, check out Paul Koring’s latest here.)
And we’re back — and that was a royal we, not an indication that a throng of reporters is filling the room in anticipation of Paul Dewar’s reaction; ITQ is, thus far, the only non-technician in the room. That’s what happens when you don’t give us sufficient warning of a non-urgent press conference, I guess — unless it’s likely to blow up the current news cycle real good, we’re just not going to drop everything and head to 130-S on little more than an hour’s notice.
I don’t expect that this will go for longer than ten or fifteen minutes max, by the way — less if it really is an audience of one liveblogger — but if Dewar fails to demand a Full Public Judicial Inquiry, ITQ, for one, will be shocked and appalled.
Aha! I hear the pitterpat of little reporter feet! Tiny reporter feet belonging to — Andrew Mayeda. Oops. He might not appreciate that particular reference, so let’s not tell him. Also, other reporters! Not quite as many as we had at this morning’s event, but at least I’m not the only one. That’s so awkward.
And here he is!
And here he is – looking slightly less bedraggled that ITQ, probably because *he* remembered his umbrella, and thanking us all from being here today. Thanks for having us, Paul! Let’s get this done, shall we?
He notes that, although he — like most Canadians — was aware of what he went through in Sudan — being “abandoned” by successive governments (read: HELLO LIBERALS! YOU WERE IN POWER BACK THEN!) — but not that his late wife was harrassed in Canada, but that Abderazik was actually visited by at least one of *his* colleagues — Deepak Obhrai — and that in this case, unlike that of Maher Arar, Canadian officials were *directly involved* in his plight. There was no middleman — if anything, it was *Sudan* that was the middleman, and that, he says, is “chilling”. That’s why his story is important, and why he – and all parliamentarians – want to hear from him.
Ding! It’s not, he says, whether there *should* be an inquiry, but how broad the scope should be. He wants to see all the individuals and departments involved in this case held accountable. “We need to find out why successive governments, and our spy agency, behaved the way they did.” He lists a few opening questions — why was he told he wasn’t a Canadian? Why were family members used as “bait”? Didn’t we create CSIS explicitly to ensure civilian oversight?
According to Dewar, he knew that Obhrai was planning to meet with Abdelrazik while he was in Sudan, but thought — not unreasonably — that it was to check on his condition and see if there was anything he could to help, and not to “take part in the interrogation”, as has now been alleged. Wait, is that a totally new allegation? For some reason, I thought we knew that this meeting had taken place, but maybe not all the gory details. No pun intended.
The personal account we heard today, he stresses, showed that this affected *everyone* — not just one man. Family members were “pursued”, were “used” against him — it was like something we thought only took place within the realm of spy movies and thrillers.
First question — Radio Canada, and it’s about the list. Does Dewar agree that first step is to get him off the watch list? He does, but he goes further than that — the list itself, it turns out, he finds troubling. Where is the proof of why someone *belongs* on the list — where is the accountability? The government, he suggests, doesn’t even seem to understand how it works.
Mayeda wonders whether he thinks the eventual inquiry should go as far as Arar. “Farther,” Dewar counters — this is actually *more* serious than that case, given that Canadian agents were allegedly directly involved in all manner of dirty tricks. As for compensation, it’s a fair question — Arar got $10 million, after all — but this is “more profound” than simply counting up the dollars. What he wants to know is why a Canadian citizen was treated in this fashion, and what we’re doing about it.
Another question, about the confusion in the transcript over whether there were one, or two MPs present; Dewar doesn’t know any more than us, but suggests that Abdelrazik might have confused an aide or official with Obhrai as being a second MP. He muses that at the time, he really, truly believed that the government was sending Obhrai there to bring Abdelrazik home.
That, as it turns out, is the last question — see, I told you it would be quick — leaving us to mull over what we’ve heard. Obhrai, incidentally, is apparently travelling in Asia, and can’t be reached for comment at the moment. Which is a pity, really, because there seem to be a lot of questions for him piling up while he’s in the air, but he has to land eventually, right?
Anyway, with that, ITQ signs off again — possibly for the day, as far as liveblogging goes, although I suppose the Liberals might decide to hold a last minute presser of their own at some point.
In fairness, I should point out that Irwin Cotler did scrum briefly at this morning’s event.
Also, during a media avail earlie today, Ignatieff reportedly rambled on about how citizenship is indivisible and the government can’t “pick and choose” which Canadians to help and uh, sir? You seem to be missing the enormous, spiky point, which is what the heck was/is CSIS up to, and how do we make sure it never happens again? I know that’s not as satisfying as blaming the government — and I’m *also* not saying the government doesn’t deserve to take some of the blame for its actions, or inactions — but it seems to me that in this case, they’re not the ultimate Big Bad.
Okay, that’s *really* all for me. I wonder if I’ll get to liveblog Deepak Obhrai’s eventual response?