Held without charge? Some context.

The House of Commons is set to vote today on the extension of two provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The ATA was brought in under the Liberals after 9/11 and two specific provisions of the act are being challenged today in the House of Commons by that same party.

They are:

  • investigative hearings of material witnesses
  • the ability to hold terror suspects without charge for 72 hours

I wanted to know how other countries handle the second issue in particular so I did a bit of research. Here’s how other countries deal with the detention of terror suspects:

Europe
France can hold terror suspects for 72 hours without access to a lawyer. Terror suspects can be held for up to four years (!) before being tried by a court.

Germany can hold terror suspects for 48 hours without seeing a judge.

In Greece, terror suspects can be held without charge for up to 12-18 months.

Italy can legally hold suspects for 24 hours without access to a lawyer.

Norway can hold terror suspects for 48 hours.

Spain can hold a terror suspect and prevent access to a lawyer for 72 hours in standard cases and up to 13 days for non-standard ones.

In the UK, terror suspects can be held without charge for up to twenty eight days but judicial knowledge of detention must occur within 48 hours.

North America
In Canada, terror suspects can be held without charge for 72 hours. Judicial knowledge of detention must also occur within 72 hours.

In the US, terror suspects can be held without charge for 6 months.

Australia
In Australia, the secret service can detain terror suspects for one week without charge.

I called Amnesty International to get their take on the situation. They told me:

“It’s important to see this within the context of our own procedures. The measures aren’t needed. There must be a balance between security and human rights. Existing criminal code provisions are already in place, so the ATA provisions are unnecessary. The government hasn’t demonstrated a need for these provisions.” — John Tackaberry, Amnesty International

Despite this, Canada is, comparatively, on the softer end of the spectrum when it comes to the detention of terror suspects without charge. Suspects are held without charge in order to further investigations in progress; once a suspect is charged, investigators lose access to the suspect as a resource.

BREAKING – Grits to walk out

I’m hearing a rumour that the Liberals are going to walk out of Question Period today in protest of Stephen Harper’s reading of that Vancouver Sun article yesterday which cast a shadow on the reputation of Liberal MP Navdeep Bains.

If the House cannot function as it should in a democracy, how can we get a democratic solution the important issues surrounding this debate (Air India, Anti-terrorism act)?

The Grits should stay and debate. After all, I once heard that 15 minutes of time in the House of Commons costs taxpayers $75,000.

UPDATE: The rumour turned out to be untrue.

UPDATE: Well… not exactly. I’ve learned a bit more. The Grits were indeed going to walk out of Question Period. That is, however, until Stephen Harper came down the stairs, flanked by members of the Air India families and then scrummed with reporters (which is rare). Likely not wanting to offend the families (which would sit in the gallery during Question Period and hold a press conference at the National Press Theater to back Harper’s position on the Anti-Terrorism Act provisions) the Liberals in the opposition lobby filed into, and stayed, in the House for Question Period.

Hello Steve Janke!

There’s a lesson here: never throw out the B-roll!

As some of you may know, I, along with Tasha Kheiriddin and Greg Staples armed ourselves with video cameras and stalked the halls of the Liberal Party leadership convention in December looking for interesting people to talk to and fun moments to catch on tape.

Steve Janke has the post of the day (already featured on Bourque, National Newswatch and Rutherford) about John Duffy’s hypocritical position on climate change. Duffy is co-founder of the website www.climateliberal.ca and was pushing the issue of climate change at the convention. As Steve Janke brilliantly points out today, Duffy’s position is… um… unsustainable as the former Paul Martin confidante was a lobbyist for the Bromine Science and Environmental Forum (a front for the bromine producing industry) where he worked to keep bromine off of Environment Canada’s list of toxic chemicals. Bromine is “the most effective heat trapping greenhouse gases of all” according to Environment Canada.

Anyway, do go and read Steve Janke’s excellent post!

And, now… watch the following video that Tasha was able to shoot for Blogging Tories during the Liberal convention.

CTV’s Canada AM makes a poor edit

Last week, I was watching Canada AM and would have spit out my coffee if I had been drinking some at the time.

I had just seen the program’s Seamus O’Regan interview Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion about climate change, the oil sands, the terror threat against the oil sands and then finally a potential election. It was a standard four minute interview which ended with some rhetoric from Stephane Dion, saying that Harper wants to make the country right-wing, Republican, far right, evil, etc… par for the course and standard fare for Dion. The Liberals have recently been pushing that very message in every QP breath they take.

At the top of the hour, they replayed a clip of the Dion interview which described the Liberals as a moderate alternative to Harper’s “far right” party. Again, inaccurate, but expected. Immediately following this clip, the anchor goes to the next news story to describe “far right” nutjob Ernst Zundel being convicted in Germany. It’s almost as if Dion teed up the ball and CTV drove it 350 yards.

Take a look (Youtube video):

In CTV’s defense, the same “far right” descriptor was used to describe Zundel in the previous top-of-the-hour news update (before Dion had given his interview – Dion went live at 7:40am EST). However, who cuts a clip of Dion describing Harper as “far right” and then gives the anchor text on Zundel describing the Holocaust denier as “far right”?

Also, what’s with the kid gloves Seamus? If Dion uses language to describe Canadian conservatives that CTV reserves for Holocaust denial, aren’t you supposed to call him on that? The proper response would have been “now wait one second there, Mr. Dion…”

For the record, this is editing on live television. I don’t think that there was any malice intended on the part of CTV… the result was just unfortunate. If this had been a pre-packaged broadcast, I’d be quite upset. With that said, I do believe that lessons above (and in the video) regarding language and kid gloves should be considered by CTV.

UPDATE: Should we instead be disappointed with Dion for twisting the misnomer (on all fronts) for his own agenda? Haven’t we heard Dion describe Harper as a ‘far right climate change denier‘?

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

Quick thought

Stephen Harper’s famous five priorities during the previous election were packaged as such because Paul Martin seemed to name every issue as “his #1 one priority”. In fact, if I remember correctly, the Conservatives formed a list of about 100 items that Martin’s had listed as “priorities”. Of course, this labeled the last Liberal PM as “Mr. Dithers”… a leader who’d never be mistaken for a rudder.

So, has Stephane Dion further refined Stephen Harper’s strategy?

Will the next election campaign be based on Stephane Dion’s one priority?

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?

Macleans 50

Macleans newsmagazine has put together a new initiative called the Macleans 50 which is described as “A diverse field of Canada’s most well known and respected personalities from journalists to politicians offering their comments on the issues of the day, everyday.”.

To my astonishment, Macleans editor Adam Radwanski named me to the 50 and invited me to participate and to comment at the website along with other “50s” such as Tom Flanagan, John Manley, Steve Paikin, Paul Wells, Irshad Manji, Barry Cooper, Christy Clark, and L. Ian MacDonald (among others). The “Mac 50” will comment on a variety of news from politics to health to education.

The official launch was on Monday and we’ve already seen many animated discussions.

I’m also happy to see Dan Arnold of CalgaryGrit on the list.

Diane Finley interview

I had the opportunity last month to record an interview with the new Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley.

We discussed multicultural outreach, recognition of foreign credentials and sought to clear up any ignorance floating around about Graves disease.

Conservatives to release French ads today

I’ve been doing a bit of digging on the topic of Conservative french-language attack ads (since we all know they’re coming, and since the english-language versions were successful in English-Canada).

Will they attack Dion on his dismal environmental record (since it’s a big issue in Quebec)? Will they discuss Adscam Liberals being invited back into the party-fold?

I’m about 90% confident that the Tories will be making an announcement this morning detailing french-language ads to run in Quebec.

“Stéphane Dion n’est pas un lee-der”

UPDATE 1:02am: Upgrade to 99%. Just received word that Bernier’s running point on the presser mid-morning and that the ads will be “totally different” than the English ones (in footage of course, but in style too).