Monday, April 04, 2005

Fair Trial

From today’s Globe:

Said Mr. MacKay: "There is no question that if it is in fact now being circulated and is out publicly in the States or elsewhere, that this sole purpose of having the ban in place has just evaporated. There is no point. So once somebody has violated the ban there is no purpose in having it there."

Uh…no. The point of the ban is so that the jury pool for the criminal trials won’t get contaminated. Just because a few self-righteous US bloggers who want to feel like big shots broke the ban, doesn’t mean the jury pool has been contaminated. Just because a few Conservative bloggers in Canada are breaking the law to compromise a fair trial, doesn’t mean the jury pool has been contaminated. They aren't helping matters but how many Quebeckers do you think actively read English blogs? Given how small that number is, the ban still serves its purpose.

And from a purely political standpoint, it’s beyond me why Peter MacKay would want the ban lifted. Right now, there's endless speculation (much of it exaggerated) floating around. Since the testimony will spread by word of mouth, anyone who’s ever played telephone knows it’s going to get wilder and further from the truth with each degree of separation from the source. Better for the Tories to let rumours spread and then have it all come out at once with a big bang.

And politics aside, it strikes me as odd that the same people who call this the worst scandal in the history of mankind (no, no, not the Prime Minister. The other people who are mad as hell over this) are actively trying to undermine the criminal process. Don't they want the people who committed these crimes to be tried and made accountable for what they did?


  • I see that Justice Gomery has granted the Liberals full cross-examination privileges of the witness(es) -- apparently the Libs are going to challenge some of whatever has been said.

    I also see on the CBC the Federal Liberal Party has called in the RCMP to investigate whether it was a victim of fraud in this mess.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 3:46 p.m.  

  • I think Warren's mantra only stretches so far here...The media was reporting on the American blog almost as soon as conservative bloggers linked to it, so the point is pretty much moot.

    I agree though that if the Cons are able to keep the "explosive testimony" buzz floating, it'll do them good. I don't think so, however - it's already faded from QP, etc.

    By Blogger matt, at 3:54 p.m.  

  • If it is at a point where you need a publication bad to avoid contaminating a jury pool, would not the responsible thing to do is turn this over to the RCMP and stop the charade? As for the Tories, I think it is a mistake for them politically to have the bad repealled. The more rumors and inuendo that is out there, the better it is them for them to spread it and benefit from it.

    By Blogger Jordon, at 4:02 p.m.  

  • Lost in everything seems to be the fact that Jean Brault has a vested interest in making up stories about the Liberals. The guy is indicted for defrauding Canadians to the tune of $30 million, and suddenly he has all the credibility is the world?

    Just like Maher Arar -- if he's got something bad to say about the government, it must be true!

    By Blogger JoshP, at 5:14 p.m.  

  • ummm...what's the problem with Arar?

    good point about Brault.

    By Blogger matt, at 6:28 p.m.  

  • Arar was sent to Syria and tortured there, on suspicion of terrorism. People remember the first part of that sentence, but seem to have forgotten the second. Fact is, he was involved in some really suspicious stuff, and we only have his word that he was innocent. As far as I know, there hasn't been any genuine Canadian investigation into whether or not he was actually involved in terrorism.

    By Blogger JoshP, at 7:30 p.m.  

  • Quebec alglophones such as myself actively read english blogs.
    That being said, the idea that the news will travel far and wide without publication is a little over the top. It assumes that people are giving an accurate account of the testimony and that we will believe these never before visited American blogs without thinking about credibility.

    By Blogger quebecer, at 7:59 p.m.  

  • Let's assume Arar is guilty of everything they suspected him of: logistical & financial support for Al'Queada activity in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

    Deporting him to torture by either the US or Canada is still against international law (jus cogens): see Suresh v. Canada at

    Not to allow him access to Canadian consular representatives also violates the Geneva/Vienna conventions.

    But personally I don't think someone with a past to hide calls that many news conferences.

    By Blogger matt, at 11:19 p.m.  

  • Hey, no question that what happened with Arar was in contravention of international laws on the subject. But that doesn't clear him of suspicion.

    As for the news conferences, I think it's safe to say he's played the media really well for himself. He was TIME Newsmaker of the Year, his wife ran for Parliament (and, in a coalition, could have wound up on the Privy Council), and has speaking engagements and respect everywhere.

    By Blogger JoshP, at 12:46 a.m.  

  • I can't believe someone is trashing a guy who got shipped off for two years of torture. If you've looked into any number of the cases where there was a "suspision" of terrorist connections you'd see that most of them are extremely weak. Kinda like the WMD.
    Even if he is a terrorist I wouldn't condone the procedure used anyway.

    By Blogger pol_grom, at 1:19 a.m.  

  • Let's not forgot too that without the temporary ban on publication, Gomery could not have legally compelled testimony from the three. So we have the testimony because of the temporary ban. No temporary ban, no juicy morsels to whisper around.

    By Blogger Mark Francis, at 3:55 a.m.  

  • Josh,

    The suspicious activity that Maher Arar was involved in that led to his subsequent arrest was being friends with a man who's brother happened to be a suspected terrorist.

    Here's a list of publicly available articles discussing this:

    From the New Yorker

    Time Canada

    The Canadian Intelligence Resource Centre

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 5:24 p.m.  

  • This according to... Arar himself, of course. This is the problem I see -- that people are taking everything he says at face value because he's criticizing the government. And the fact that he goes after the Americans too doesn't hurt. CSIS has had to remind the government that he remains a person of interest and should not be cleared of all suspicion.

    Looks like I need to remind pol_grom that I don't condone the process as applied to Arar. At the same time, Arar has chosen to make himself into a public figure, and in my books that makes him a legitimate subject for reasoned discussion. I don't believe that anyone should have a lifelong exemption from criticism.

    By Blogger JoshP, at 10:15 p.m.  

  • Josh wrote: "Fact is, he was involved in some really suspicious stuff."
    I guess you were there to see this.
    Josh also wrote: "his wife ran for Parliament"
    What the **** does that have to do with it?
    The insinuation of you comments is that on the basis of your 'suspisious facts' Arar and his wife(huh?) should not be aloud to complain about what has happened and try and do something about it.
    If I remeber any civics lessons its that when you don't like what your government has done (and Arar is Canadian)- then you participate in the public discourse and the electoral process.
    Hey - Josh, good on you for not condoning torture!

    By Blogger pol_grom, at 1:36 a.m.  

  • How exactly does Brault have a "vested interest in making up stories?" If he had promised to give damning testimony in exchange for immunity from criminal charges or a plea bargain, I could see it, but AFAIK that hasn't happened here.

    I also take issue with the complaint about an American blogger with an American server refusing to follow Canadian law. Somehow, I doubt you'd take issue with a Canadian who doesn't follow the Patriot Act or the DMCA.

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 2:59 a.m.  

  • What really bothers me about Brault was that he was passing off money to the Separtists. How could that be if he was a "Liberal"?

    There are more than a few bricks short of a full load on this one.

    The Tories are anxious to tie their fortunes to this guy, which is going to turn out well for the Liberals once the whole picture emerges it seems to me.

    The Arar case is another matter. Back in the days of the Cold War where there were professionally trained "intelligence operatives" active in Canada (Gozenko, etc) we used to spend months and years gleaning any small scrap of evidence we could from each of them. Al Quada, no matter how Emperor George Bush II presents it, is not the Soviet Union.

    But the torture of Arar, and more importantly, the criminal behavior of CSIS in destroying evidence that the RCMP needed in the worst case of terrorism on Canadian soil, THAT is another matter entirely.

    Finally I want to see Canada - US relations cool even further with this President. I want them to get as frosty as a late October morning.

    There are consequences when you thumb your nose at the world, and frosty relations with Canada should be one of those consequences.

    By Blogger Joe Green, at 1:05 a.m.  

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