University of Ottawa professor Amir Attaran, an advocate for greater disclosure on detainees, calls the deal a failure.No wonder Ralph Goodale's only response is to talk REALLY LOUD! Hat tip to Scott, who has the grace to be troubled by this betrayal of Parliament.
"It is an own-goal for the opposition if they sign this agreement, surpassing any fumble seen in the World Cup," Professor Attaran said.
Prof. Attaran laid out six criticisms which are his beefs with the deal:
"1. It pretends that Cabinet confidences are impenetrable by Parliament. There is no law to say that this need be the case, and it was not something that the Speaker said was the case. On the contrary, the Speaker said that the power of Parliament to require documents is absolute.
2. It also pretends that solicitor-client privileged opinions of government lawyers are impenetrable by Parliament. This is wrong, for the reason already stated, but it also gravely misapprehends the entire notion of “solicitor-client privilege” in a simpleminded way that I am surprised duped the opposition. Pause to think, “Who is the client of a Government of Canada lawyer?” and you can only conclude that the client is the Government of Canada. ... There is no legitimate solicitor-client privilege claim.
3. The agreement at para 6 allows any member of the review committee—any ONE member—to refer a disputed document to the panel of arbiters. With 20,000+ pages of documents expected, that could be abused to refer all the pages—every single one—totally swamping the review committee.
4. The review committee, further, is quite at variance with the terms of the Speaker’s order, which said that it was up to the members of the House to decide what documents would be released: if, when, and how. Yet now the proposed agreement puts that decision in the hands of a review committee of retired judges, who are not Parliamentarians. One hopes the Speaker rejects the agreement on this basis.
5. The referral of documents to a review committee of ex-judges is also worse than referring the same to sitting judge. At least sitting judges, in a real court, have rules that they follow, and there is a (mostly) open process where submissions can be made — by the public, by the press, and so forth. Nothing of the kind exists here, so actually, it would be better if this agreement not be signed. We don’t even know who the ex-judges are ...
6.This draft agreement shows nothing if not that the opposition parties in the House failed to bring the same quality of thinking to the problem that the Speaker did. It’s an own-goal. One might think they agreed because they don’t want an election now, but there are various ways they could have solved this conundrum without provoking an election."
Update: Steve V declares the deal "A Dud". Recommend this Post