Tracking the trends

Google, the leading online search provider in the world, has released a new service called Google Trends. The service summarizes all Google searches by region and over time and plots the rising and falling trends.

This service will likely prove useful to many different organizations from music groups who might plan a special concert to the region with the greatest number of fans per capita (searching for them online) to political parties who’d like to track the buzz surrounding various issues in different regions and even that which surrounds themselves.

Armed conflict is always a hot topic among pretty much anyone, let alone Canadians that search Google. According to the search engine there are three particular armed conflicts that have Canadians looking for more information: Afghanistan, Darfur and Iraq. The Canadian military is currently involved in Afghanistan and recently the opposition parties have been trying to press the Conservative government to send troops to Darfur. The Conservative party has promised to come up with a plan for the troubled region with the international community and will likely promise action as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of our other international commitments (namely Afghanistan).

On first glance, it appears that the Sudanese region of Darfur is within the mindset of a greater number of Canadians than Afghanistan.

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However, on closer inspection, it appears that Darfur is really only being researched in Ottawa rather than by the rest of the country. Certainly others in Canada are interested in Darfur, however, in reference to Canadians that search for information on Afghanistan; those that search for Darfur are in Ottawa.

Further, this data’s range only extends to approximately April 21st and opposition pressure on Darfur has only been significant in the past couple of weeks.

iraq-darfur-afghanistan-regional.JPG

Same-sex marriage was a particularly contentious issue that peaked when the Liberal government extended the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples in 2005. During the previous election campaign, Stephen Harper was wise to inoculate the sensitive and extended campaign by putting the issue on the table during the first day and to do it on his own terms. After the campaign, the Conservatives said that a vote to determine if same-sex marriage should be re-opened would come ‘sooner rather than later’ in the new Parliament. According to historical Google search data, the issue is currently at an all-time low on the minds of Canadian (or at least those that use Google) and it is currently trending downwards. Would it be wise for the Conservative government to keep the issue off of the minds of Canadians while they present their case for a majority government?

same-sex-marriage-trend.JPG

Here are a couple of interesting media comparisons:

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cbc-ctv-global.JPG

Surprisingly, the economically beleaguered Toronto Star leads in Google searches among Canadians while the Globe and Mail (which proclaims itself as Canada’s National Newspaper) trails the Star with the National Post in 3rd place. Perhaps the Globe and the Post should do more to reach out towards an online audience, however, online readership doesn’t necessarily translate into actual market share or profitability. This very issue will determine the new winners and losers of the news industry as the business model shifts.

Concerning television, it appears that CTV has less market share (at least among Googlers) than I thought, while CBC takes the top spot among the Canadian mindset with Global appearing to challenge until at least 2006. Then again, “global” means a lot more to Canadians than just TV and “Canwest” hardly registers on the graph because it hasn’t been properly branded as a television product (in my humble opinion). “Global” perhaps is too generic while “Canwest” is what’s on David Asper’s business card, not what’s on the minds of Canadians.

From the Aspers, to the Desmarais and all the Liberal kingmakers in between (that’s it, isn’t it?), let’s take a closer look at the Liberal leadership race.

Google Trends only accepts five comparisons at one time, so I will compare the top five according to Google: Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff, Ken Dryden, Scott Brison, and Gerard Kennedy.

lib-leadership-trends-1.JPG

As we can see from the graph, the race is certainly too early to call but there are a couple of interesting trends that we can discern from the graph. First, it appears that Michael Ignatieff may have burned out a lot of his ‘look at me, I’m important’ fuel a little too early on in the election. However, the data that is shown does not include Ignatieff’s launch on April 26th. Therefore, the data is quite incomplete. I am also particularly surprised by the amount of searches Ken Dryden has received so far in 2006. His name is certainly his best asset and it will be interesting to see if he can generate enough excitement (tip: don’t talk) to get enough delegates. A Dryden campaign should be based heavily on others promoting and speaking for Dryden. Scott Brison’s buzz appears as an insignificant plateau and therefore this Kyoto-hating Liberal enviromental critic needs to generate more buzz about his leadership campaign. Finally, from this data, we see that Rae and Kennedy are the only two that are increasing in their Google market share.

I’ve included the cities breakdown because it represents an interesting problem for the Liberals as well. The only two cities that Google finds as significant in regards to the Liberal leadership race are Ottawa and Toronto.

Finally, to get everybody arguing, here’s Google opinion on where the most hockey fans are (normalized per capita over the years 2004, 2005 and 2006).

hockey-fans.JPG

PM defends Civitas

Snap!:

Mr. Mark Holland (Ajax-Pickering, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the point that the minister misses is very simple. There is a difference between expressing an opinion about the judiciary and launching a personal attack on the independence of Canada’s chief justice and to put words in her mouth. There is a huge difference.

Canadians want to know are the comments from the member for Halton and the Prime Minister’s close association with the ultra right wing Civitas Society part of their real agenda, an agenda to destroy the independence of our judiciary?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I cannot resist answering a question about the vast right wing conspiracy. What I will say is that I will speak to the Minister of National Defence and see if there is any possibility in the budget of a black helicopter, so we can fly the hon. member around to investigate his concerns.

The budget and students

In a post about a week ago on the various reactions to the government’s 2006 budget “Focusing on Priorities”, I featured the following three quotations from educational stakeholders:

“The Harper Government’s first federal budget will do very little to provide relief for students and their families who are struggling with escalating fees for post-secondary education. Although the budget contains minor tax changes for students, it will not fundamentally improve access to post-secondary education according to the Canadian Federation of Students.” — Canadian Federation of Students

“We’re shocked that the Harper government has cut half a billion dollars out of the post-secondary education funding committed by the previous government … This budget means that Canada’s three granting councils will have to reduce their support for research and graduate fellowships at a time when Canada’s research capability is more important than ever” — Greg Allain, President of the Canadian Association of University Teachers

“We are pleased with the budget’s support for university research, as well as the government’s recognition of the important role that research plays for Canadians … These increases in research funding underline the government’s commitment to promote a more competitive, more productive Canadian economy.” — The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

As a student at Queen’s, I am well-aware of the usual knee-jerk reactions by the hard-left leaning Canadian Federation of Students to Harris-Eves-McGuinty and now Harper policy announcements for education.

I was however surprised when a fellow grad student and friend of mine (who isn’t at all politically minded) told me (paraphrasing from memory):

Friend: “Steve, I didn’t vote Conservative, but I think I’m very happy with Harper right now.”

Me: “Um, ok… why?”

Friend: “Is it true that the Conservatives just dropped all tax on student scholarships and bursaries? That’s like 100% of my income!”

I told her that I’d look into it because I hadn’t heard of that certain budget provision. But, if true, it would also make my life easier as well.

A week had passed and yesterday a lab colleague (and Liberal) told me that he too was happy with the budget for the very same reason, so I went and looked it up.

“Budget 2006 proposes the following measures:”

“Making all scholarship, fellowship and bursary income received by post-secondary students exempt from income tax by eliminating the current $3,000 exemption limit.”

Having just finished my taxes, I knew that this was a particular annoyance (I had to track down an additional copy of the special T4A form which outlined total scholarship amount to be taxed). This comes as good news. I can now declare almost my full income as tax exempt since I’m a student.

Most graduate students will experience the same tax relief (if not up to 100% of their income in my friend’s case).

Further, undergraduate students receiving scholarships and bursaries will also see this income as tax exempt. Also, it will provide tax relief on this supplementary income if students work part time.

In addition, the goverment will also:

*Expand eligibility for student loans to more students from middle-income families.

The CFS states that “[the] budget will do very little to provide relief for students and their families”. According to the government, when calculating loan eligibility, the amount that the government figures that parents could contribute is lessened making a greater number of students eligible for loans increasing accessibility to post-secondary education.

*A new $500 tax credit to help about 1.9 million post-secondary students with their textbook costs. For a typical full-time student, the tax credit will represent a yearly benefit of about $80.

I don’t know about the ‘typical student’ but when I was an undergrad my books often were between $400-$500 per year.

So, that brings up the question: What has the Canadian Federation of Students so upset? (I know that Brother Layton couldn’t convice PM Harper to make our tuitions disappear, but these credits and ideas will certainly help a lot of students)

I also provide the quotations from the Canadian Association of University Teachers and The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada to show an interesting dichotomy. The teachers express “shock” and explain: “This budget means that Canada’s three granting councils will have to reduce their support for research and graduate fellowships at a time when Canada’s research capability is more important than ever” while a representative from Universities and Colleges says: “We are pleased with the budget’s support for university research, as well as the government’s recognition of the important role that research plays for Canadians … These increases in research funding underline the government’s commitment to promote a more competitive, more productive Canadian economy.”

Both quotations are about research in post-secondary institutions. However the quotation from the teachers shows a budgetary reaction not by a stakeholder in education but as a stakeholder in a unionized workforce that only happens to be involved in educating. (similarly, watch for unions to claim that their defence of unionized childcare is for the interests of the children)

The direct quotation from the Universities and Colleges is perhaps more representative what the new cash means regarding research at Canadian post-secondary institutions.

The Conservative budget actually increases the amount from the previous Liberal budget by $100 million per year:

*$40 million per year for the Indirect Costs of Research program.

*$20 million per year for the Leaders Opportunity Fund of the Canada
Foundation for Innovation.

*$17 million per year for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

*$17 million per year for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada.

*$6 million per year for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council of Canada.

Of course, these figures are representative of the extra money provided in addition to the money already invested in research by the government. The government already invests $1.6 Billion into the three granting councils, $260 million into the Indirect Costs of Research program and the government has historically invested $3.65 Billion to date in the Canada Foundation for Innovation in support of research infrastructure.

Weekend in Ottawa

I just got back from an educational weekend in Ottawa where I was blessed to see some old friends and make some new ones at the 10th annual Civitas conference.

Now, while the details of the discussions and presentations at the conference cannot be revealed, I will say that the state of conservative intellectualism in this country is strong.

Citizen scribe and PPG executive Elizabeth Thompson scored an easy story while violating certain principles. You see, Civitas is a private gathering of conservatives to discuss politics and ideas without the inhibitive hind-thought of media scrutiny. Without this scrutiny, anyone is free to discuss the concepts that are controversial, the ideas that confound the ignorant, and the thoughts that are at the mere stage of incubation.

Thompson violated the conference attendees and the conference itself by drawing back the veil. The organizers of the conference had asked that members of the media keep discussions and presentations off-the-record to protect the free and uninhibited discussion of ideas. I’d suppose that I’d now be wary of going off-the-record in a future conversation with Elizabeth Thompson. Do other reporters still respect this principle?

Her story teased her humble and polite audience with the favourite Canadian horror story of Republican infiltration into Canadian politics. One would perhaps more honestly frame the American strategist as an affable fellow that shares the small c conservative philosophy that is common among freedom-loving, big government-despising political intellectuals regardless of their borders.

So give Elizabeth Thompson some credit for scoring an interesting story but I would argue that it may have come at the expense of some cherished media and intellectual principles.

UPDATE: This, however, was fair-game. Vellacott talked to a reporter outside of the conference (while at the hotel that hosted Civitas) and decided to say something silly. While Vellacott likely believes what he says, it’s safe to say that he does not represent the views of the government on this issue. Judges are independent and Vellacott’s comments are unfortunate and hurt this independence.

UPDATE: Elizabeth Thompson replies in the comments.

UPDATE: I have received opinions on this matter from both sides of the argument and from many people that I respect. The issue is certainly grey in a few areas and one is likely to come down on the side that influences their biases. After more consideration, I’ve come to the following conclusions.

Was Elizabeth Thompson within her rights to cover this as a story given the fact that conference organizers didn’t ‘close the door’ on a private meeting? Certainly.

If she had been present in the room and reporter/recorded the speech by Luntz, would she have been trespassing in a private meeting? I think so.

It seems that there’s a threshold of a door vs. public space distinction here where the private meeting spilled out into the public space.

Did other media reporters/columnists violate a commitment to their readers by neglected to report the details of a private meeting? No, no and no.

If Thompson knew the bylaws of Civitas, and as a reporter (and non-member) chose to ignore the spirit of these bylaws, is she ‘wrong’ for doing so? No.

Was she polite for doing so? No. (but it’s not her job to be polite)

I still maintain that a private meeting, where people are free to discuss issues and thoughts without hind-thought of media scrutiny, is important to intellectual and academic discourse (even on the topic of small c conservative politics and policy). It is the same reason that academic professors are given tenure; tenured professors can conduct research without the fear of losing their jobs for following unpopular theories or testing controversial hypotheses as deemed by the ignorant.

If we cannot be allowed the freedom to discuss and develop ideas, then philosophical development will be hindered.

Often, many of our significant problems in this country exist due to a want for developed ideas and honest debate. If we (from all parts of the political spectrum) cannot even nucleate novel approaches to solve these problems due to media scrutiny that dissuades discussion, then Canada will be lacking the best solutions to carry it forward.

That’s where I see the grey area. Where Thompson didn’t have to, she didn’t. But she could have, in respect for the academic and intellectual freedom that we sought.

Perhaps we should have just closed the door.

The Budget, the reactions

“The bottom line for average taxpayers is a net benefit in 2006 and larger tax savings in 2007. Yet the federal government’s lowest personal income tax rate will rise. In 2005 it was set at 15 per cent and applied to the first $35,595 of income. The Conservative’s first budget will see this rate increase to 15.25 per cent this year and to 15.5 per cent in 2007 … So while the GST is being cut by one point, income taxes paid by ordinary Canadians will go up. … The one group that will benefit immensely from this budget is Canadian households with young children. Economically, they will rocket ahead thanks to the government’s fulfilment of its promise to provide all families with $100 a month for each child under age 6.” — John Williamson, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

“The fiscal irresponsibility of this budget is completely unacceptable … The Harper government is throwing fiscal prudence out the window and spending savings from program cuts before they even have them in the bank.” — Liberal Finance Critic, John McCallum

“Today’s first Conservative budget is a lost opportunity for
working families. Instead of investing in the services people
have waited years to see, this budget squanders the surplus on
more corporate tax cuts. As a result of this budget, child care wait lists will go up, pollution will go up, and student debt will go up.”
— NDP

“L’engagement ferme du gouvernement à s’attaquer et à éliminer le déséquilibre fiscal constitue une avancée majeure pour le Québec et c’est pourquoi le Bloc Québécois appuiera ce budget lorsqu’il sera soumis au vote des parlementaires de la Chambre des communes. (The firm commitment of the the government to attack and eliminate the fiscal imbalance is a major advancement for Quebec and that’s why the Bloc Quebecois will support this budget when it is put to a vote to parliamentarians in the House of Commons)” — Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois

“This budget exceeded our expectations. Small business owners should love this budget. It is clear that focusing on small business priorities not only makes good economic sense, it makes good political sense. All political parties in this minority government should support these initiatives. For every dollar the budget allocates to spending priorities there are two dollars allocated to tax reductions. The budget hits virtually all of our members tax priorities” — Canadian Federation of Independent Business

“Today’s federal budget delivered the right
message in key areas as the government made good on its promises to implement fiscal measures and expense management initiatives that are conducive to Canada’s future economic well-being. In large part, Canadian business can endorse this budget. … The government has heard our call and acknowledged the need to reduce the tax burden of Canadian taxpayers and businesses alike, in order to make Canada more competitive”
— Canadian Chamber of Commerce

“The federal government has presented a budget that
raises more questions than answers in meeting Ontario’s priorities and
addressing the fiscal imbalance … The federal government has recognized the fiscal imbalance for the first time, but it missed the opportunity to act on the fiscal imbalance today. We will continue to make our case to the federal government for fair treatment for Ontarians”
— Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, Ontario (McGuinty government)

“In addition to tax cuts, particularly the many corporate tax cutscontained in the budget, the Conservatives are slowing government spending at a time when the economy is growing … They’re also instituting another round of expenditure review, cutting $1-billion in each of the next two fiscal years. If the government is planning to institute these cuts in addition to Liberals’ five-year expenditure reduction plan, there will be a serious impact on the provision of federal public services in more areas.” — Public Service Alliance of Canada

“These tax cuts will put money back in the pockets of Canadian familiesand will help increase consumer confidence about making big ticket purchases, such as buying, furnishing, or renovating a home … The reduction in the GST rate to six per cent will reduce the costs associated with buying or selling a home, and will help to make ownership more
affordable”
— Pierre Beauchamp, CEO Canadian Real Estate Association

“Finance Minister Jim Flaherty clearly recognizes that to ensure long-term prosperity, Canada needs to increase our productivity … But the measures introduced today, mean Canadians will still lag far behind the U.S. in productivity growth and have to wait years before enjoying the same levels of prosperity. … We congratulate the government for recognizing the tax burden is still high for small and medium businesses, but raising the threshold for small
business income to $400,000 from $300,000 for the reduced federal tax rate is
still insufficient”
— Richard Monk, Certified Management Accountants of Canada (CMA Canada)

“Ontario’s municipal governments see promise in the
Harper Government’s first Budget. The Budget includes a commitment to work
with provinces and territories over the next year on the fiscal imbalance. It
also fulfills commitments to a total of $7.1 billion in federal funding
support for municipal infrastructure over the next 4 years.”
— Association of Municipalities of Ontario

“This Budget delivers good news for Canada’s municipal sector and for all Canadians. It lays out a blueprint for relations among all orders of government that is both respectful of jurisdictions and pragmatic. The promise to consult with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities before federal Budgets reflects this practical and pragmatic approach.” — Federation of Canadian Municipalities

“The Federal Budget contains nothing for
child care today and no plan for tomorrow. … Families that can’t find child care now are going to find the search harder. Some children may lose the early learning and child care they have and parents will find paying for child care just as difficult.
— Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada

The TORONTO BLUE JAYS applaud today’s announcement
by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Government on following through on their campaign promise to reduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Once the specific legislation regarding GST is tabled, the Blue Jays will examine all available options with respect to customers who have already
purchased tickets for future games and those customers who will purchase
tickets after the legislation takes effect.
— The Toronto Blue Jays

“First Nations will remain in last place as
a result of today’s so-called “Building a Better Canada” federal budget. This
disappointing budget does not begin to address the gap in quality of life
between First Nations and other Canadians and could increase the gap through
inaction.”
— Phil Fontaine, Assembly of First Nations

“Despite years of hard work and great progress
as we experienced with the previous government, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have not stood up for the Métis Nation. It is not acceptable to ignore the years of work which lead to last November’s historic signing of the $5.1 billion dollar Kelowna Accord. The accord was endorsed by all provinces, territories and national Aborigional organizations and yet, despite receiving clear support for this investment and record federal surpluses, this new government has not made the welfare of Canada’s first peoples and in
particular, the Métis Nation, a priority.”
— Métis Nation

“The federal budget tabled today by Finance
Minister Jim Flaherty, while short on specifics on how the money will be
allocated, indicates an important re-investment in Canadian military and
security forces, which will benefit the nation and potentially create strong
new opportunities for the Canadian defence and security sector”
— Tim Page, President of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries

“The Harper Government’s first federal budget
will do very little to provide relief for students and their families who are
struggling with escalating fees for post-secondary education. Although the
budget contains minor tax changes for students, it will not fundamentally
improve access to post-secondary education according to the Canadian
Federation of Students.”
— Canadian Federation of Students

“This is encouraging — a better budget for business than we have seen in the last five years … While it falls short of CME’s standard for tax
competitiveness, it does include measures that will have a real benefit for
business.”
— President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

“The industry is very encouraged by these measures which will helpstimulate and reward capital investment in Canada and are a welcome first step in addressing the tax disadvantage that the Canadian forest products industry currently faces against its international competitors … These measures build on the momentum created through the resolution to the long-standing softwood dispute. — Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada

“We are delighted by this announcement of full funding for the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control … A fully funded Strategy will lead to fewer Canadians developing cancer and will significantly reduce suffering and death from this disease.” — Dr. Barbara Whylie, Canadian Cancer Society

“We’re shocked that the Harper government has cut half a billion dollars out of the post-secondary education funding committed by the previous government … This budget means that Canada’s three granting councils will have to reduce their support for research and graduate fellowships at a time when Canada’s research capability is more important than ever” — Greg Allain, President of the Canadian Association of University Teachers

“We are pleased with the budget’s support for university research, as well as the government’s recognition of the important role that research plays for Canadians … These increases in research funding underline the government’s commitment to promote a more competitive, more productive Canadian economy.” — The Association of Universities and Colleges
of Canada

“The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) is
very pleased that today’s budget confirms the federal government’s commitment to meaningful and sustainable investment in public transit.”
— Canadian Urban Transit Association

“The one-point cut to the goods and services tax
announced in today’s federal budget is welcome news for Canadian consumers and the small business owners that operate the majority of bar and restaurant
businesses in Canada, says the 31,000-member Canadian Restaurant and
Foodservices Association (CRFA). … A cut to the GST is tax relief that’s hard-wired into the economy … The July 1 reduction in the GST to 6% will provide visible and much-needed tax relief for Canadian consumers on virtually every purchase they make, putting money directly into their pockets.”
— Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

“Canada’s Chartered Accountants are encouraged that
the federal government’s budget focuses on responsible fiscal management,
while promising benefits to individuals, families and small businesses. … The budget provides a focused range of measures directed to meeting the needs of Canadians. … We are encouraged that the government recognizes the need to reallocate funding from existing programs, to support some of these measures, and will continue to focus on reducing the federal debt by at least $3 billion annually.”
— Canada’s Chartered Accountants

“The Canadian Healthcare Association (CHA)
today welcomed the funding announced in Budget 2006 for pandemic preparedness, the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, the Child Disability Benefit and post-secondary education infrastructure. Given the lack of specificity in the budget on the Patient Wait Times Guarantee and federal/provincial/territorial responsibilities for health care, the CHA will continue to monitor future developments in these areas.”
— Canadian Healthcare Association

“We acknowledge the good first step that the government has taken with this new Children’s Fitness Tax Credit which will help more children become involved in sport and physical activity … We are confident that this government will soon deliver on its commitment to increase the budget for sport to one per cent of the health budget, which would more than double the current budget for sport and fitness to approximately $300 million a year.” — Chris Rudge, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Air India inquiry announced

Today, the Conservative government announced that they will continue the process of setting up a full inquiry into the most heinous act of terrorism committed against Canadians in our history: the bombing that destroyed Air India Flight 182 in 1985.

The bombing killed 329 people and the prosecution against those alleged to have committed the bombing was grossly mishandled. Indeed, crossed wires at the RCMP and CSIS contributed to the bureaucratic fumbling of the case and the key suspects were acquitted causing significant uproar among most Canadians.

Early last month, the Prime Minister met with the families of the victims of the Air India attack and promised to launch an inquiry into the incident. With today’s announcement, it appears that the PM has delivered on his word. Canada will finally seek to determine the security failures prior to and after the bombing, 21 years later.

Unfortunately, after 21 years of previous government, all that could be mustered was an inquiry into whether an inquiry should take place (the answer was yes). Now, of course, I don’t pretend to be an expert, but the incident was the most significant terrorist attack against Canadians in the history of this nation. Further, our federal security bureaucracy couldn’t communicate effectively leaving us with an inadequate level of national security?

This issue while fundamentally important on a public policy scale, also will demonstrate that the new Conservative government is working on one of its five priorities and is delivering to Canadians. On January 23rd, Canadians voted for safer communities and security at home and abroad and this announcement today will certainly show that the Prime Minister is delivering on his promises. Hopefully, the inquiry will provide understanding, if not closure, for the families of the victims.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Major will chair this long awaited and necessary inquiry.

Here is the full text of the verdicts against Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri whom were acquitted of a litany of charges.

Selected excerpts:

This Court found Mr. Bagri’s rights under s. 7 of the Charter to have been violated on three separate occasions. The first two breaches arose from the destruction by CSIS of relevant material, namely, the Parmar telephone intercepts and Mr. Laurie’s notes and audiotapes of his interviews of Ms. E. The third breach was occasioned by delayed Crown disclosure during the defence case. Mr. Bagri was granted certain interim remedies and the parties agreed to defer the final determination of appropriate s. 24 remedies until the conclusion of trial so that the prejudice to Mr. Bagri’s fair trial interests could be assessed in light of the full evidentiary record. The parties made comprehensive closing submissions with respect to both the applicable test of prejudice and the appropriateness of various remedies to address any such prejudice. In light of the outcome of the case against Mr. Bagri, however, it is not necessary to consider these matters.

Considering the evidence as a whole, I find that the Crown has not proved its case against Mr. Bagri beyond a reasonable doubt with respect to his being a member of the alleged conspiracy or a party to the alleged offences and, accordingly, I find him not guilty on each count of the Indictment.

I began by describing the horrific nature of these cruel acts of terrorism, acts which cry out for justice. Justice is not achieved, however, if persons are convicted on anything less than the requisite standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite what appear to have been the best and most earnest of efforts by the police and the Crown, the evidence has fallen markedly short of that standard.

Bob Rae’s report is available as a PDF (350KB) and includes this concluding statement:

A few days before completing this report I was visited by a family member who left me a smiling photograph of an 11 year old girl, his sister, KiranJit Rai. She was killed on Air India Flight 182. He also showed me the letters his parents had received from her classmates at King George Public School. They speak of a young girl full of fun, intelligent, beautiful. They wanted to let her parents know that “the whole school is crying”. I have that picture on my desk to remind me what this has been all about.

KiranJit and 330 others were murdered by people living in Canada. They may have been assisted by people from other countries, but this is a profoundly Canadian event. Some of its perpetrators have been apprehended or killed; others are still at large. A twenty-year police investigation continues, and our search for answers, and for justice, can never stop. The inquiry I am recommending will not provide “closure” for the families or for anyone else. But it should provide us with further insight and better practices. — Bob Rae