Here are the three things you should not have missed:
- Developments in the VIA Rail terror bust
- Darrell Dexter on meeting the PM with Rehteah Parsons’ parents
- Speaker Scheer’s ruling on MPs statements
Updating the developments in yesterday’s terror arrests, Power & Politics had CBC’s Greg Weston detail that the suspect Chiheb Esseghaier was under surveillance by RCMP as far back as May of 2012 when he went to a biomedical conference in Cancun, Mexico, and that there was an incident with a flight attendant at the time. While Raed Jaser’s lawyer said the timing of the arrests was suspicious, RCMP and FBI say timing was a coincidence, as one suspect began exhibiting a change of behaviour, and they were concerned about his travel plans. There were also allegations that these suspects were in contact with a well-known al-Qaeda agent near the Afghanistan-Iran border. On Power Play, CTV’s Bob Fife said that the investigation was more far-reaching than just in Canada, that there will likely be arrests in the US soon, and that Esseghaier turned down court-appointed lawyer, saying charges are trumped up. On P&P’s Power Panel, Greg Weston made the additional observations that the absence of CSIS and the FBI at yesterday’s press conference was telling, as was the shuffling of CSIS Director Richard Fadden, which was announced at the same time.
In response, Evan Solomon spoke with an MP panel of Candice Bergen, Randall Garrison and Francis Scarpaleggia, where Bergen was again evasive and said that they needed to trust that the RCMP made the right decisions, and that people needn’t worry about Bill S-7 as it has safeguards in place. Garrison said that the government is trying to take advantage of public events and that people aren’t looking at the threats to civil liberties in S-7, while well-funded police and security agencies are sufficient. Scarpaleggia said that fact that the measures weren’t used in their previous incarnation meant they also weren’t being abused, and that S-7 can be seen as a kind of “insurance policy” in case those powers are needed in some future case. Solomon also spoke with Yusra Siddiquee of the Canadian Muslim Layers Association, who noted that because the suspects were permanent residents and not Canadian citizens, it means they are subject to further measures under anti-terrorism laws than Canadian citizens would be. That the RCMP made their status known was likely a signal that they want to see if they can use provisions in legislation around that.
Don Martin spoke with Nova Scotia premier Darrell Dexter about his meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Rehteah Parsons’ parents. Dexter said that he spoke about needed reforms to the Criminal Code, as well as the need to create broader-based change and create an atmosphere where this kind of behaviour elicits the kind of social disapproval that stops it from becoming the kind of all-too common occurrence that it currently is. Dexter said that criminal sanctions against things like sharing “intimate images” without approval will help to create that social disapproval, as such act can only be done for malicious purposes, though he added that education and awareness-building was also necessary. Dexter said that Parsons’ parents were satisfied with their reception from Harper, and that they all believed that this is the time for reform, and to that effect, Dexter has forwarded a draft of proposed legislative changes that can be put through the federal process.
In response to the Speaker’s ruling on Mark Warawa’s complaint of privilege, whereby the Speaker said that there wasn’t a clear case of a breach of privilege, but that MPs need to speak up if they feel they’re being marginalized by the lists, and he may end up recognizing them if they stand up in the House. Martin put this to his MP panel of James Rajotte, Megan Leslie and Rodger Cuzner, where Rajotte said that the Speaker threaded the needle very well, and that this kind of issue is managed well in his caucus. Leslie said that she wasn’t sure what outcome that she wanted when she spoke to the issue, but she does appreciate that the Speaker had nuance in his argument about ensuring equality. Cuzner said the Liberals are currently debating if they will still bring forward their motion on Members’ Statements tomorrow, and that the Speaker played a tough hand.