You know, maybe there's a reason why PMO wasn't so keen on ministerial chattiness ... - Macleans.ca

You know, maybe there’s a reason why PMO wasn’t so keen on ministerial chattiness …

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… Or am I the only person left who still remembers the quaint, old-fashioned convention that forbade government officials from commenting on ongoing court cases, lest there be any suggestion of judicial interference?

First, we have Diane Ablonczy – Minister of State for Small Business, and don’t feel bad if you were drawing a blank, because this may be the first non-boilerplate statement she’s made since her promotion to cabinet – musing publicly on Green Shift Inc.’s lawsuit against the Liberal Party:

“I believe that Canadians will think it’s deplorable Mr. Dion is slamming an entrepreneur for simply defending a business brand she has worked hard to develop,” she said in a prepared statement. “Canadians will also find it deplorable that the Liberals have added insult to injury by suggesting that being linked to the Liberal party is somehow doing Green Shift Inc. a favour. Canadians will be troubled that the same Liberal arrogance and sense of entitlement they rejected 2 1/2 years ago still remains in the Liberal party.”

Not that she’s taking sides, of course; that would be highly inappropriate, given the fact that this is an ongoing legal action, and she is – at least technically – a Minister of the Crown.

Then there’s the statement issued earlier this morning by Jason Kenney – also, as it happens, a Minister of the Crown – commenting on the release of Inderjit Singh Reyet, by the BC Court of Appeal, in a ruling directly related to – and stop me if you’ve heard this before – ongoing legal action, in this case a criminal trial:

Statement by the Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P., Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), Following Mr. Reyat’s Release From Prison
OTTAWA, ONTARIO

Mr. Reyat, the only person found guilty of involvement in the Air India terrorist attack, faces prosecution on the very serious charge of perjury. Perjury strikes at the core of our legal system and its search for truth.

Mr. Justice Ian Josephson previously characterized him as follows: “I find him to be an unmitigated liar under oath. Even the most sympathetic of listeners could only conclude, as do I, that his evidence was patently and pathetically fabricated in an attempt to minimize his involvement in his crime to an extreme degree, while refusing to reveal relevant information he clearly possesses.”

The bombing of Air India Flight 182 was the single deadliest terrorist attack in Canadian history, and Mr. Reyat was the only person found guilty of involvement.

Today, my thoughts are with the families of Air India victims, who must now reconcile Mr. Reyat’s new-found liberty with the immensity of their own loss.

You know, I get that Jason Kenney has strong feelings about this case, and disagrees with the decision of the court, just like I get how Diane Ablonczy, speaking as a Conservative partisan, is tickled pink by the latest lawsuit to be launched against the Liberals. But you know what? That’s the sort of thing you rant or giggle or go on and on about over dinner with your colleagues, or your staff, friends or family – behind closed doors, in private. What it isn’t is an appropriate subject for an official ministerial press release.

I always wondered why Sandra Buckler had so little faith in the judgement of lesser communications directors. But the fact that in at least these two cases, that seemingly obvious fact appears to have been missed entirely by whoever in your office is supposed to know this stuff makes it a little bit easier to understand.