Friday, May 14, 2010

The Dry Turkey

I am a bit dismayed by this paragraph:
The Harper government and opposition parties have agreed in principle to use a panel of outside experts to referee disputes over whether secret Afghan detainee records can be made public after being shown to select MPs.
How much do you want to bet the Harperites will challenge every document that comes before them, as a means to drag this process out for, well, forever? It is their way. They will live up to the letter of the agreement. Period (and only if they feel it gives them political advantage). With the Harperites, there is no such thing as the "spirit" of anything. Opposition beware, you are being suckered, again.

Update: If what Kady is saying is true, then it is a win for the good guys. But, I will keep my powder dry until the details emerge. The bottom line, I don't trust the Harperites as far as I can throw them.

Update 2: After reading this, it is much harder to say it is a win for democracy. Again, it is the details that matter. Can the government simply say that everything needs to be referred to the panel of experts? If so, the opposition has signed on to a slow motion cover-up. The next few days will tell.

Update 3: Ok, this section is really troubling:
Where the Committee determines that such information is both relevant and necessary, or upon the request of any member of the Committee, it will refer the document to a Panel of Arbiters who will determine how that relevant and necessary information will be made available to Members of Parliament and the public without compromising national security - either by redaction or the writing of summaries or such techniques as the Panel find appropriate, hearing in mind the basic objectives of maximizing disclosure and transparency.(italics mine)
It seems to me that the opposition has given the government a suspensive veto (which it will use with wild abandon, mark my words) and has allowed the government the opportunity to move the final decision away from elected members to an unelected "panel of experts". This is a shocking capitulation by the opposition.

Update 4: Ok, in looking at the text again, I have it wrong. It looks to me as if the "panel of arbiters" gets to see all the documents and it is they and not the committee of MPs who get to decide what is redacted. The single member clause is there to allow MPs to appeal to this body in the case where the committee does not agree with them about whether a document should be released. Still an unelected body is going to have the final say as to what the Parliament and the public as a whole get to see unredacted. To my mind this is just plain wrong and a loss for our democracy.

Update 5: The fact that Stephen Harper is happy with this deal tells me all I need to know about it.

Update 6: Curiosity Cat agrees this stinks like dead fish. I watched Power and Politics and the talking heads all basically framed this as a way for the opposition to avoid an election. So, how do you feel about Canadian democracy tonight? Me, I think it has been sold out by a bunch of cowards, to a bunch of authoritarian thugs.
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1 comment:

  1. Yep.

    This all was about tough negotiating with Parliament.

    You knew it; I knew it.

    Did Michael Ignatieff know it?