What would we be allowed to know?

Over the weekend, Canadian Press considered how a committee of Parliament might be empowered to review documents related to Afghan detainees. Jack Harris’ proposed motion hints at the same basic idea and, in fact, an interim committee of Parliament (that included the current Defence Minister) laid out in much detail how this might work in a 2004 report.

Here, though, is how that plan explains such a committee’s reporting process.

The committee shall make reports directly to Parliament only after consultation with the Government to ensure that no classified information is disclosed. The Government shall have the right to review the committee’s reports before they are tabled in Parliament, and to black out, but not edit or delete, such classified information as it deems necessary. The committee will also respect its obligations with regard to the disclosure of personal information as required by the Privacy Act.

Which perhaps brings us back to the tricky questions of what qualifies as a matter of national security, what qualifies as a matter of public interest and who decides as much.

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