Saturday, March 13, 2010

Terms of Reference or Terms of Endearment?


The federal Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, released the Terms of Reference today for former justice, Frank Iacobucci.

What? Perfectly normal to release this information on a Saturday isn't it? I mean, just because the opposition has been asking for it all week and the government refused to answer any questions on it....

No matter, the issue will still be around on Monday.

In the meantime though, as you go through the ToR, it is pretty clear that the government has gone to great lengths to employ yet another stall tactic and not much more. Granted, this investigation by Iacobucci may yield more than the government is prepared for, the narrow mandate he is being given doesn't really address the core issue as raised by Derek Lee, and that is the supremacy of Parliament.

In the Terms of Reference (Backgrounder), the government acknowledges the motion adopted by the House, but dismisses it right off the bat:

Whereas the House of Commons has adopted a motion, on December 10, 2009, ordering the production of Government documents related to the transfer of Afghan detainees from the Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities, which contain information the disclosure of which would be injurious to national defence, international relations or national security if publicly released;

So, they are ignoring the will of the House and suggesting that a third party make the determination instead. While I understand that former justice Iacobucci has an impressive record, this is not how our system works.

Frankly, it would be interesting to get Iacobucci's opinion on that particular matter, but he is not allowed to speak according to the ToR.

Additionally, the government is completely ignoring the premise on which the opposition parties and Derek Lee in particular, has made their claims. No, the government adopt their own criteria in the matter. Specifically:

“As I stated in the House of Commons, the government acknowledges that it is appropriate that decisions on the disclosure of information in these circumstances be reviewed in an independent manner,” stated Minister Nicholson. “This will ensure that parliamentarians will have access to the relevant government information on the arrangements for the transfer of detainees in Afghanistan while ensuring there is no injury to Canada's national defence, international relations or national security.”

I'm fairly certain that the opposition parties will not be satisfied with this, nor in my view, should they be. The government is blatantly flouting the will of Parliament and that is not only a serious matter, it is one that could conceivably push us into a constitutional crisis.

The government's flagrant disregard of our system must be called out and I firmly hope that Lib MP, Derek Lee will do just that when the House sits next week.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

This ToR asks the judge to, at his convenience, tell the government how long it will take for him to do the review.

Gee, at 500-600 dollars per hour, I hope this is not going to put another dent in our national debt.

Wonder if the ToR was released because the judge has already given them a timeline.

Cherniak_WTF said...

What? Perfectly normal to release this information on a Saturday isn't it?
What a waste of money, why they just release the conclusion, we know they are already written...

KNB said...

Anon, tough to say, but who knows.

I would have been so impressed if Iacobucci had said, 'I cannot take on this work'...though I doubt that would be public.

KNB said...

While I don't think it will cost much C_wtf, you're probably right in terms of conclusion.

That said, while I think the appointment ignores the real issue, wouldn't it be something if Iacobucci completely disagreed with the government and deemed it right for the committee to see all, in camera?

Still want to see Lee go forward next week. We should all perhaps write to the man.

Cherniak_WTF said...

There is no need for Iacobucci and any money given to him is a waste.

This is a stall tactic by Harper one, that like so many before, will push the issue into the "forgotten" files by Canadians...

Anyone remember the nuclear watchdog? Neither to I...

KNB said...

We agree. I think that is what I said in the post.

I remember, Linda Keene and there have been many others since.

I think the opposition will fight back, though this sham will continue.

If they throw Iacobucci under the bus, the sham is over. Done. Not just this one, but all that came before.

That I think we can count on. If they aren't worried about his outcome, worries me.

Anonymous said...

About Linda Keene - she sued for wrongful dismissal and lost the case. That means the government had just cause to fire her.

I have a feeling there is a lot more to that story we have not been told.

Anonymous said...

I believe the judicary became supreme under PET but who cares if you can slander the cons.

saturdy announcements are normal in Canada (under all govs)

some people seem pissed that the judge would look bach on the libs in 2001-005

we will hear the truth


OTTAWA

Anonymous said...

I believe the judicary became supreme under PET but who cares if you can slander the cons.

saturdy announcements are normal in Canada (under all govs)

some people seem pissed that the judge would look bach on the libs in 2001-005

we will hear the truth


OTTAWA

Fred from BC said...

Cherniak_WTF said...

There is no need for Iacobucci and any money given to him is a waste.

This is a stall tactic by Harper one, that like so many before, will push the issue into the "forgotten" files by Canadians...



'Stalling' for what, exactly? Like no one believes that the Liberals/NDP won't just pounce on the issue again (loudly and hysterically) as soon as the report is released? If the public cares about the issue now, won't they care about it then, too?

There is no need to stall, sorry. There IS a need to keep self-serving Opposition members from digging out and releasing information that could get Canadian soldiers, diplomats or allies in Afghanistan KILLED, though...hence the move to allow an impartial third party to decide. And then there's the whole smearing the reputation of Canadian forces...because you obviously can't find the politicians guilty without finding the troops guilty as well. But you don't much care about that, do you? Nahh...not as long as there is a remote chance of embarrassing a Conservative politician, right?

Sickening...

RuralSandi said...

Iacobucci was appointed by Brian Mulroney not PET.

Linda Keen's situation/wrongful dismissal suit, happened before all the info had come out.

The Liberals are willing to take their lumps, if any - why is Harper too chicken to deal with it?

If we don't deal with the torture issue, the military are actually less safe. And, how can we say one thing and mean another. You can't attack the terrorists/Taliban and fight against them torturing and then do the same thing ourselves. Why should we put ourselves down to their level.

O/T, but Nicholson reminds me of John Ashcroft.

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Fred from BC said...

RuralSandi said...


The Liberals are willing to take their lumps, if any - why is Harper too chicken to deal with it?



What makes you think that Stephen Harper is afraid of anything? The Liberals set up the system that allowed captured prisoners to be tortured, the Conservatives discovered this and fixed the problem (as best they could under the circumstances)...so if anyone should be worried, it should be members of the Paul Martin government.


If we don't deal with the torture issue, the military are actually less safe.


We have dealt with it. There are some allegations floating around, but nothing that can ever be proven one way or another and certainly no suggestion that Canadians were involved in either ordering torture or actually torturing someone.


And, how can we say one thing and mean another. You can't attack the terrorists/Taliban and fight against them torturing and then do the same thing ourselves. Why should we put ourselves down to their level.


We don't.

You do know that Taliban training manuals instruct captured terrorists to *always* claim that they've been tortured, right?