Wajid Khan out of caucus

Following this story in the Globe and Mail which broke a few hours ago, this press release just landed in my email inbox:

OTTAWA – Today, Member of Parliament Wajid Khan announced he is stepping aside from Conservative caucus. The decision was made following media reports that he may be charged under the Elections Act over matters dating back to the 2004 election, when he ran as a candidate for the Liberal Party.

“Although I have not yet been served with court documents, Given the circumstances, I am withdrawing from the Conservative caucus to sit as an independent MP. I have also offered the Prime Minister my resignation as his Special Advisor for Middle Eastern and South Asian Affairs.”

Wajid Khan MP
Mississauga Streetsville

Decoding Harper’s Political Strategy on Afghanistan

This article by Campbell Clark of the Globe and Mail describing Defense Minister Peter MacKay’s comments on Afghanistan on CTV’s Question Period this past Sunday, left me a bit unsettled and confused.

OTTAWA — Canada has made it clear to its NATO allies that they cannot count on our troops to fight on the deadly battlefields of southern Afghanistan after February of 2009, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said yesterday.

“The signal that has been sent already is that our current configuration will end in February, 2009,” Mr. MacKay said in an interview on the CTV television program Question Period.

“Obviously the aid work and the diplomatic effort and presence will extend well beyond that. The Afghan compact itself goes until 2011,” he said. “But the way the mission is currently configured, with respect to our presence in Kandahar, there is an expiration date that has been set.”

This is a clear step forward from the Prime Minister’s earlier assertion that a consensus in Parliament would be needed to extend the mission – in it’s current state – past February 2009.

So, what is going on here? Is this what it seems? Is this surrender by the Conservative government on a key conservative principle?

The more I thought about it, the more I started to think about this announcement in a strategic way.

So, here’s my prediction:

Afghanistan is going to be the wedge issue during the next election to take place when the government puts the mission to a vote in Parliament. The vote will fail, the opposition will indicate its majority intention to withdrawal from Kandahar and the government will fall, because Harper will make it a confidence vote.

Why? Numbers.

As it stands, 50% of Canadians support the current mission in Afghanistan while 50% of Canadians do not. Harper needs about 40% of the vote to get a majority government.

MacKay’s announcement on Sunday does a few things. First of all, it indicates an utmost respect for Parliament as the mission and extension will still go to a vote (as indicated in Clark’s article). Secondly, it makes the opposition put down their guns on the Afghanistan issue for a while (continuous shelling of the mission puts it in a weak position in the forum of Canadian opinion). The opposition looks foolish when continuing to whine about the issue when the government has indicated that the mission (in the current parliamentary climate) cannot continue past February 2009. Third, it allows the government to prepare behind the scenes to sell the mission. The governing party has an advantage over the opposition parties in that it has two forums to spread its message, the House and outside of it. By indicating that the government recognizes that it is unlikely to win the Afghanistan mission vote, this disarms the opposition from consistently bringing it up in the House. Meanwhile, the government (the Conservatives) aim to sell it as an issue campaign across the country.

While the government recognizes it is unlikely to win an extension in Afghanistan, the Conservative Party will still maintain the position that an extension is in Canada’s interests and will advance that position up to the vote. There is a bit of a dichotomy here: Minister MacKay concedes the realities of the government’s minority position on the policy, while the politics of Conservatives will continue to lobby for an extension. By playing government minister, MacKay disarms the House (because the House checks the government, not the Conservative Party).

The Afghanistan extension is a perfect wedge issue for Harper. Only the Conservatives and the NDP have a clear position on the issue and only one can form government. The Liberals are bitterly divided on the issue. Ignatieff supports the mission in Afghanistan and Rae has indicated a tough on terror position in the past. Dion’s position is weak, somewhat against but certainly not for the mission. In fact, he has flip-flopped so many times in the past on the issue of Afghanistan. Of course, this plays into the Conservative narrative of weak leadership regarding Dion. Both Ignatieff and Rae are looking to topple Dion after an election, but concerning an extension as far away as 2009, this might be a wide enough window for both Rae and Ignatieff to act sooner rather than later. Harper’s strategy is to both create both a stronger NDP and a Liberal Party bitterly divided.

What other issue creates these winning conditions?

Afghanistan is a perfect issue to rally the conservative base, a reluctant group that has become angry over income trusts and only came out to vote in their champions in the wake of the biggest corruption scandal in Canadian history.

Regarding Quebec, I’m starting to think that the media’s read on Quebec voting intention regarding Afghanistan are overblown. I think that more Quebeckers would get out to vote for the mission than get out and vote against it come election day. Quebec remains a puzzle though despite Harper’s continuous attention to that province.

Speaking of which, Harper has also taken hits among the base for increased spending. Where, however, has this government spent? Childcare cheques, the military and transfer payments (fiscal imbalance) have been the shifted spending priorities of Canada’s New Government. The latter of which should help buffer some of that anti-military sentiment that the Toronto press believes that exists so pervasively in la belle province.

Back to leadership, this issue favours Harper in an electoral footing. Because he has a better control of the timing of an election, he will obviously define a ballot issue that favours his government and personal leadership. Afghanistan is a red meat issue while the environment is assorted mixed greens. Defining the election on Afghanistan favours Harper’s strong grizzle-laden leadership style, while the weaker Dion will be left sitting in vinaigrette. Harper is not going to willingly contrast himself in an election on any other issue. The only thing green that the Conservative Prime Minister hopes to talk about during the election is Dion’s leadership and that Dion “doesn’t have what it takes”, “isn’t a leader” etc.

Conservatives will also ask, “If Dion is a weak leader with an ambiguous stance on Afghanistan, is he ready to be Prime Minister?”

I believe that Conservative strategists are counting on a majority coming from NDP gains (hoping to catch that unambiguous 50% against the mission) and the bottom falling out on the Liberal party on Afghanistan and Dion’s leadership.

Announcing the Blogging Tories Newspaper Viewer

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a bit of a complex media research tool and web project that I’ve dubbed the “Newspaper Viewer”. Using the application, one is able to view some of Canada’s most popular broadsheet and tabloid newspaper front pages from just over the past year when I started to collect them.

In June of 2006, I wrote a web script that collected PDF files of about 15 newspaper covers per day. I let the script run automatically each day since that time and I’ve accumulated over 3 GBs of PDFs on my server! These files weren’t browsable in any convenient form and without purpose — beyond my own general interest in having a stock of these files — they were becoming a burden on my server which hosts this blog.

Like any web designer amazed by the presentation abilities of Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash, I’ve poked around the application since its early versions. However, up until this time I’ve never really been confident enough in Flash to publish anything substantive. That is, until I was faced with an idea to take this very visual collection of files and present it in a complimentarily visual way. I transfered the gigabytes of files from this server to my more permissive btblogs.ca server and got to work on the project after buying a book on Flash and its underlying object-oriented language, Actionscript. I also recommend subscribing to the video tutorials at Lynda.com

This Newspaper Viewer is the product of that initial script that I wrote over a year ago and the result of my clumsy climbing of the Flash learning curve over the past few weeks. I believe that this is the only archive of its kind available online and I hope that you enjoy browsing through this collection.

There are two ways that you can sort through the database. On the right, a dropdown box contains dates from June 5th to the present day. By selecting a date from this dropdown, you can view the newspapers from that day. Try browsing today’s newspapers or view how the various newspapers differ in covering a certain event, such as the Toronto 17 (June 5th, 2006), the Dion leadership victory (December 3rd and 4th, 2006), the Virgina Tech shootings (April 17th, 2007) or the Conrad Black verdict (July 14th, 2007). The other dropdown menu contains a way to view each newspaper by month. Thus, you can see a monthly spread of each newspaper.

When flipping through the newspaper archive, if you double-click on a particular paper, it will load the original PDF of that cover. I recommend trying this because some of these covers come in beautiful detail and those that appreciate design and layout will want to take a closer look.

I also designed this application as a media monitoring/research tool. A significant number of Canadians get their news from Canadian newspapers and some researchers may find it worthwhile to track the evolution of a story as expressed to Calgarians via the Herald, or to Torontonians via the Sun, to give two examples. To illustrate another example of this tool’s use, one might find it interesting to see how the National Post was covering the Conrad Black trial in comparison to other newspapers. Further, some believe that papers cheer for political parties during elections. It may be interesting to see if this is true by tracking Globe and Mail or Sun media headlines over the course of a writ period. A lot of power resides in news media as reporters, editors and columnists are able to influence millions of readers by a carefully crafted headline or by highlighting/burying scandalous details above/below the fold. As Canadians, we ought to be savvy media consumers in order to be informed participants in our democracy. Hopefully, as a comparative tool, this Newspaper Viewer application will help contribute.

I do hope that you enjoy this project. I would appreciate any comments, suggestions, bug reports via email or in the comments section below.

Click here to launch the Newspaper Viewer

Whistleblower stomped by unaccountable Senate

I cannot believe the news that has been swirling around the city in the past couple of days about Tory staffer Jeffrey Kroeker. Kroeker was reprimanded by a Senate report from the board of Internal Economy for having the audacity to blow the whistle on a junket taken by Senators to Dubai last year.

CTV had the original report of the trip:

Canadian senators waited in an expensive Dubai hotel for seven days after a failed attempt to reach Afghanistan when the military had warned them not to attempt the trip in the first place, CTV News has learned.

Liberal Senator Colin Kenny had hoped to take his National Security Committee to Kandahar province for a fact-finding trip, as well as Dubai — a city in the United Arab Emirates that is trying to become a global business hub. Instead, the senators ended up spending seven days in Dubai.

The total hotel bill came to more than $30,000. Plane fare, meals and other expenses were not included.

CTV reported then that it obtained the information from a “leak”.

We now know that the information came from Jeffrey Kroeker, then a staffer for Conservative Senator Marjorie Lebreton.

Kroeker should be commended for bringing the excesses of the Canadian Senate to the attention of the public. Unfortunately Joan Bryden of CP makes an unfortunate comparison to the bureaucrat that was arrested two days ago for leaking the Tory’s Green Plan:

Coming a day after a federal contract employee was hauled off in handcuffs for allegedly leaking a draft of the government’s climate change plan, Liberal Senate Leader Celine Hervieux-Payette questioned how the Tories can sanction keeping Kroeker in the employ of a cabinet minister.

Of course, the situations of Kroeker and the Green Plan leaker Jeff Monaghan are completely different as Monaghan leaked government policy whereas Kroeker made available information that the Senate has actually chosen to keep itself exempt from revealing — yes, the Senate is not accountable to Access to Information requests. With respect to the environment leak, Monaghan broke his oath to keep state secrets. While the cost of junket to Dubai was meant to be kept secret by Kenny and his co-travelers, the information hardly represented any information critical to policy/security or governance. Kroeker simply blew the whistle on Senate excess. While Monaghan was an activist who leaked confidential and secret government policy that he didn’t agree with, Kroeker acted to disseminate information on the extravagant expenses of a handful of senators from the Upper Chamber which has exempted itself from the kind of transparency that keeps other facets of government accountable. Moreover, these expenses were not authorized by the Senate.

We have now learned that the Senate “investigated” Kroeker’s act in total secret and the investigation was conducted by a Senate sub-committee. Kenny himself sits on the board of internal economy, which had oversight over the investigative sub-committee, however Kenny did not think to recuse himself.

Bryden also makes an unfortunate omission in her article. She writes,

The rebuke of Jeffrey Kroeker was contained in a unanimous report of the Senate’s committee on internal economy. The 15-member committee includes four Conservative senators.

The description of a “unanimous report” is misleading here because “unanimous” means that the decision to table the report was unanimous, but the acceptance of the report was hardly the same.

In summary, what do we have here?

Unaccountable senators, part of an unaccountable Senate — the lack of transparency of that body is reflected by its lack of public accounting and disclosure — went on a seven day junket to Dubai at the cost of $30,000 to the Canadian taxpayer. The purpose of the trip was to observe the operations in Kandahar, however, it was expressed to the Senators that this leg of the trip would not happen therefore making the excursion overseas useless. Nevertheless, the senators spent seven days in the hotel, only attended two meetings, and “wrote a report”. However, CTV’s original article includes a quote from Sen. Tommy Banks that the report for the most part was written before the trip was taken. The Vice Chief of Defence Staff in two separate letters confirmed that Senator Kenny was fully aware that they could not get into Afghanistan and as such, should have canceled that leg of the trip. When Kroeker learned what they had done by staying the hotel for over a week, he knew that they had gone beyond the authorized expenses of the Senate and as such, he decided to research the costs. When he saw how galling the expenses were he made the decision to blow the whistle. What the senators did was grossly unfair to taxpayers.

Kroeker should be commended, not condemned.

This seems like politically motivated retribution by a Liberal dominated Senate for the whistleblowing act of a Tory staffer. Why should the cost of a senate junket to Dubai be “secret” from Canadian taxpayers?

Bryden’s article thankfully includes praise from Conservative Senator Terry Stratton:

Senator Terry Stratton, the Tory whip in the upper house, rejected the report’s conclusions. He cast Kroeker as a conscientious staffer who blew the whistle on misuse of taxpayer’s money.

“(The report) makes it very difficult for people to expose the unauthorized expenditure of public money,” Stratton said in a written statement issued late Thursday.

“We should be proud of the stand that Jeffrey Kroeker took. He is a staffer who saw wrong and tried to make it right.”

Unfortunately, the Globe and Mail omitted this praise from its editing of Bryden’s CP article.

Here is a statement, released from Sen. LeBreton’s office just a few hours ago:

Today the Senate Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration tabled a report with the Senate in which it called into question activities of former Senate staffer, Jeffrey Kroeker.

The report is the result of an investigation undertaken by the Committee following media reports in October 2006 regarding the alleged misuse of public money on a trip to Dubai by the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, led by Liberal Senator Colin Kenny.

Senator Stratton today rejected the report: “I am extremely disappointed that this Senate Committee has issued this report. I disagree entirely with its conclusion. It makes it very difficult for people to expose the unauthorised expenditure of public money and is contrary to all of the principles in a post-Gomery world.”

In 2006, a group of senators were to take a trip to Kandahar, Afghanistan to visit Canadian troops. This trip was cancelled due to operations before the committee left, but some of the senators decided to proceed to Dubai, in any event, where they stayed, at taxpayers expense for 10 days.

Shortly following the trip, Jeffrey Kroeker discovered that the expenses for the trip to Dubai were not properly authorised and, further, that Senator Kenny, the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence was aware he would be unable to visit the base in Kandahar before he left Ottawa.

When Jeffrey Kroeker became aware of these facts, he blew the whistle, and reported the misuse of public funds to the media.

Today’s report of the Standing Committee is retaliation by a group of Liberal senators against a hard working Senate staffer, who exposed misuse of public funds. Jeffrey Kroeker did what anyone else would do when he saw public money being misused.

“We should be proud of the stand that Jeffrey Kroeker took. He is a staffer who saw wrong and tried to make it right. I am disappointed that this action has been taken,” stated Senator Stratton.

Canada’s New Government has worked hard over the last year to toughen laws that protect whistleblowers. This is exactly the type of staffer that such laws were designed to protect.

“I am very disappointed in this action by the Committee. We need more staffers like Jeffrey Kroeker and we need to support them, not punish them for doing what any honest person would do,” concluded Senator Stratton.

Who will sing a folk song for the women of Afghanistan?

There are times when I cannot understand the logical path that the left takes in order to come to some of their conclusions.

For example, the other day, Stephane Dion floated a trial balloon on his idea that perhaps instead of handing Taliban detainees over to the Afghan people, we should import them and detain them here in Canada!

Nevermind that Dion and Jack Layton’s activist base have been advocating for the release of men linked to al Qeada in Canada and held on security certificates. They advocate that if we can’t deport them back to the backward countries that may torture them, we shouldn’t detain them here but rather release them into the public. Now, consider Dion’s plan: import Taliban fighters for detaining, and failing the stomach to detain them — the logical progression and historical record goes — release them into the general Canadian public when leftwing activists condemn the Canadian government for holding combatants without charge.

Most times, while logic is lacking, left-wing positions can often be explained by a sense of self-loathing as these revolutionaries are dyspeptic of their presence in our modern Western civilization.

Let’s look deeper into the intellectual pretzel of Dion and Layton’s crowd.

In a March 2007 article in the Globe and Mail, Amir Attaran wrote:

Transport our detainees from Afghanistan to prisoner-of-war camps in Canada. This sounds awful, but that is a shrill and unhistorical analysis. Starting in June of 1940, Canada transported about 40,000 German and Italian enemy combatants to this country and held them in camps in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Those enemies were treated humanely. They were fed even as Canadians suffered under food rationing. They were given democracy classes, so they could spread those ideas in their fascist homelands. When the war ended, they went home; some returned as immigrants.

All of this was expensive, but Mackenzie King decided Canada should uphold the Geneva Conventions — and we did.

Not only would this option show Canada at our humanitarian best, but it poses vital questions. If Mackenzie King could imprison 40,000 European enemies without devastating Canada’s war effort, then how can it be seriously contended that Stephen Harper cannot now imprison roughly 40 Afghan enemies (the number detained by the Canadian Forces from 2002 through mid-2006)? Mr. O’Connor says the Canadian Forces will always follow the Geneva Conventions. If that’s so, why does the military fail to provide Geneva protections to 0.1 per cent of detainees, compared to the Second World War historical norm?

The heart-rending answer to these questions appears to be race. Canada’s inability to treat European and Afghan enemies on equal terms indicates that our military and foreign-policy establishment may still be dominated by a Eurocentric ethos. The current detainee policy suggests a subterranean racism that lags decades behind Canada’s contemporary reality as a multicultural state.

A primary concern for the Allies and Canadian forces during the Second World War was that Germans and Italians would escape or be liberated by their comrades and rejoin the fight. The removal of 40,000 prisoners from the European theater made sense strategically. If Canadians have captured 40 Taliban fighters, this number is certainly more manageable (and less significant of a strategic concern) when it comes to detainment.

Layton and Dion and their supporters on the left are inconsistent when it comes to their claimed ideology of rights and their policy position that we ought to pull out of Afghanistan. Why do these leaders want to abandon the Afghan mission when the alternative is unthinkable from a human rights perspective? To the Liberals, was the Charter a practical document for Canadian rights or does it represent a global ideal? Women in parliament? Girls in schools? The crackdown by the Taliban would be horrendous if Canada left. In fact, why was World War II worth the fight and why would Layton and Dion suggest that we shirk our responsibility to stop fascism in Afghanistan? Is it the Eurocentric ethos of the NDP and Liberal Party? Or is it more consistent with the trend of reductio ad americanum practiced by the left?

Who is Amir Attaran? Unfortunately, he’s close to the only seemingly sane faction of the Liberal Party. The Globe and Mail provides some information:

Amir Attaran, now Canada research chair in law, population health, and global development policy at the University of Ottawa, was a research fellow at the Kennedy School during Mr. Ignatieff’s time at the Carr.

He ran afoul of an influential faculty member and the school’s administration over a line of academic inquiry he insisted on pursuing, and found himself about to be booted out.

He brought his troubles to Mr. Ignatieff, who gave him office space and mentoring support until he could find another academic home. “Michael stuck up for me against some extremely nasty attacks,” Prof. Attaran says.

Tous ensemble in a twisted stew of self-loathing. It is illogical to suggest that we must transport Taliban fighters to protect them from torture while advocating that we withdraw from Afghanistan leaving women and vulnerable minorities to certain dehumanization.

Canada is in Afghanistan to enable the vulnerable to stand up, but we must also work to protect the human rights of all Afghanis. While war never happens as planned and calls for constant refinements to operations on the ground, we must always work towards maintaining our fundamental principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law so that others may enjoy them too.

Misfire on O’Connor

Lately, in the House of Commons, Defense Minister Gordon O’Connor has found himself facing attack from the opposition benches for something he assumed was true regarding reporting of the treatment of Afghan detainees by the Afghan government.

Minister O’Connor erroneously stated that the Canadian government would be updated as to the status of detainees by an overseeing body (the International Committee of the Red Cross) after transfer to the Afghani government.

The Minister has publicly corrected the record:

OTTAWA – I would like to respond to the article in the Globe & Mail of March 8 entitled “Red Cross contradicts Ottawa on detainees”

At the outset, I would like to clarify one point. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has indeed carried out several visits to detainees in temporary Canadian custody in Kandahar. This is consistent with Canada’s commitment to cooperate with the ICRC in fulfilling its mandated responsibilities under international humanitarian law to monitor conditions of detention.

On December 18, 2005, the previous Liberal government signed an arrangement with the Government of Afghanistan regarding the transfer of detainees from the Canadian Forces to the Afghan authorities. As per this arrangement, we continue to transfer all persons detained by the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan to Afghan authorities, and to notify the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The article makes reference to comments that I made in the House of Commons last May. It was my understanding that the ICRC could share information concerning detainee treatment with Canada. I have recently learned that they would in fact provide this information to the detaining nation, in this case Afghanistan. …

It appears that the Minister received some bad information.

The Liberals have seized upon the mistake in a press release issued on their website:

…Earlier this month Mr. O’Connor was forced to admit his assertions that the International Committee of the Red Cross would notify Canada of any mistreatment of prisoners in Afghan custody were false. The Red Cross is not required to notify Canada concerning the treatment of detainees transferred to Afghan prisons, and unlike Britain and the Netherlands, Canada has not retained the right to verify that transferred detainees receive proper treatment. …

The Liberals are piling on O’Connor for his mistaken impression. The Liberals, if they had been in power would not have made the same mistake, would they? Perhaps they would have ignored the assertions of departmental officials and bureaucrats regarding the ICRC and Afghan detainees.

Consider a National Defence Joint Doctrine Manual on the topic of how to handle detainees in international operations. On page 133, in a section titled “The Transfer of Prisoners of War”, section 2c states:

Even after PW (prisoner of war) captured by Canada have been transferred to the custody of another nation, there is still a residual responsibility placed on Canada regarding their treatment. If the Government of Canada is notified by the Protecting Power, usually the ICRC, that the Detaining Power to whom the PW have been transferred is not complying with the provisions of the GCs (Geneva Conventions), Canada has a duty to correct the problem, or to take the PW back into Canadian custody.

It appears that the Minister may have received bad advice from the department officials and one should conclude that the error is not reflective of the competence of Minister O’Connor.

How long has this incorrect, official government document been floating through the system?

Since August 1st, 2004. This is long before O’Connor took over as Minister of Defense. In fact, a Liberal Defense Minister (Bill Graham) was operating under an erroneous policy since the time this document was drafted (perhaps earlier).

It would seem that the fault on this issue lies with department bureaucrats rather than our Conservative and Liberal Defense Ministers.

UPDATE: In case you may be wondering, the Joint Doctrine Manual cited above is, to this date, the CF authority on PW and detainee handling. Of course, it is now known to contain false information which may lead current and future Defense Ministers down the wrong path.

Who knew that Grit could be so transparent?

liberal-courts-head.jpg

Lorne Gunter:

In the wake of the Adscam scandal, it was revealed that of all judges appointed by the Liberals — not advisory panel members, but judges themselves –nearly two-thirds had personal ties to the governing party. If one added in those from law firms with Liberal connections, the total shot up to nearly three-quarters.

Yet not an official word of concern from the CBA, or the Liberals, or the Grits’ media cheerleaders about how that brought the administration of justice into disrepute.

Given the left-leaning predisposition of the legal establishment in Canada over the past 30 years, it is a pretty sure bet that most of the bar association, law-society and judicial members of the advisory committees — plus many of the provincial representatives — hew to the left. Add in the Liberals’ 36 incumbent appointees, and the committees were cozy little closed shops that could be relied on to pick left-leaning ideological soulmates for the bench.

More reading:
Globe and Mail causing trouble?
Macleans 50: Right Turn

Globe and Mail causing trouble?

The Globe and Mail recently published an article on Monday about appointments to the Judicial Advisory Committee, a group of volunteer individuals that help select a pool of candidates for consideration for the Minister of Justice.

The Globe notes the following,

At least 16 of 31 recent appointments to the panels have Conservative party ties, according to a survey by The Globe and Mail. Others, while not directly linked to the party, have expressed right-of-centre views about the proper role of the judiciary.

Canada’s “newspaper of record” also goes on to cite seven separate authorities on the issue decrying the sure first steps to the implementation of a radical right-wing conspiracy in Canada. Stephane Dion is quoted:

“The only reason he’s stacking the committees is to select judges who will cater to his neo-conservative agenda,” said Mr. Dion, demanding an end to what he called a “blatant” effort to politicize the judiciary.”

Gilles Duceppe, the NDP, a University of Ottawa law professor, the Dean of Osgoode law school, the president of the Canadian bar association, even Beverly McLachlin expressed “concern” when the Globe and Mail contacted them to comment on its narrative. One doesn’t get the sense of balance from the article.

Partisan appointments to a panel which makes recommendations to the Minister of Justice?

On closer inspection, one discovers that the Globe’s math is a bit of a stretch and designed to be alarmist. I count over 115 names on the Judicial Advisory Committee and the names have been fully disclosed on the website for a month.

So why does the Globe deem this story to be newsworthy and why now? Well, it all fits into a narrative that the evil Conservatives don’t believe in the Charter and that if we aren’t vigilant, it’ll be gone tomorrow.

In fact, the Globe article comes during a week-long feature in the National Post about the Charter to coincide with a conference at McGill that focuses upon the “Charter @ 25″.

Is the Globe and Mail trying to fan the flames on the issue of judicial appointments?

One wonders if the Globe is as vigilant reporting on partisan appointments to the bench (rather than a non-binding advisory committee). Consider, for example, this list of judicial appointments.

Also, if one digs a little deeper into previous Judicial Advisory Committees, we discover that partisan Liberals have previously packed the JACs under Liberal justice ministers. Here’s a list:

From 2004-2006
Irene Lewis
New Brunswick Women’s Liberal Association (1994-1998)

James Hatton
Federal Liberal Candidate in the 1988 Federal Election (North Vancouver)

Sharon Appleyard
President of 2005-2006 Executive-Liberal Party of Canada (Manitoba)

Elizabeth Wilson
Member of interim peers panel for Liberal federal candidates 2006

Roger Yachetti
Donated $128.10 to Liberal party of Canada in 1999

Karolyn M. Godfrey
(P.E.I)-Liberal donation $486.80 in 1999

Marc Letellier
$1000 donation to Liberal party of Canada in 2000

Fernand Deveau
$128.33 donation to Liberal party of Canada in 1998

Simon Potter
prominent Liberal activist as well as being a lobbyist and counsel for Imperial.

Anil Pandila
Donated $390.12 to the Liberal party of Canada

From 2002-2004
Claudette Tardif
Currently a Liberal Senator (Alberta) – appointed by Paul Martin

Lou Salley
Former Chretien B.C. organizer, B.C. organizer for Dion in 2006

Rodney Pacholzuk
Former Organization Chair for the Kelowna Federal Liberal Riding Association

George Cooper
New Brunswick Campaign Manager for the Ignatieff Campaign

Annette Marshall
Co-chair of the 1993 Liberal Election Campaign – Nova Scotia

Lorraine Hamilton
Former President of the Burlington Federal Liberal Association and EA to Paddy Torsney, M.P.

Roberta Hubley
Former P.E.I. Liberal MLA

Everett Roche
Lawrence MacAulay’s Official Agent

Yes, these are partisans who served on judicial advisory committees. As I wrote on Macleans.ca, I’m still looking for the Globe and Mail article concerning these (Liberal) partisans. I don’t think that I’ll find it.

Can we instead thank these volunteers, regardless of political stripe, for their commitment to public service?

Arar settlement tomorrow?

I’m hearing rumours that there will be an official announcement tomorrow (media availability?) concerning the Canadian government and Maher Arar. I’ve heard an announcement is in the works to describe the settlement of Arar’s complaint against the Government of Canada.

Will he get the $400 million that he originally asked for? I’m hearing that he’ll receive closer to $40 million.

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail puts it just north of $10 million which makes sense. Arar had updated his number to $37 million. Of course, it’ll likely be somewhere in between.

UPDATE: $11.5 million and an apology.