Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Two Down...

A few thoughts on Day 2 of the campaign...


1. Just when you thought Gilles Duceppe couldn't screw things up, he comes out with the first mind-numbingly stupid policy of the campaign. The BQ has announced that they want Quebec to field their own teams at international sporting events. Maybe Quebecers are willing to look past the economic ruin a "Oui" vote would bring but they are not willing to look past having Patrice Brisebois on their defensive corps.


2. This whole Michael Ignatieff thing has me a little miffed. While I'm not a big fan of parachute candidates, the fact is that, like it or not, the Liberal Party leader has the ability to appoint candidates. The reason he has this power is to get people like Michael Ignatieff involved in politics. So it's beyond me why he just didn't appoint Ignatieff like he did with his good friends last year, instead of screwing around and refusing to let other candidates run.

As for the "local" riding association, it's hard to feel too sorry for them when you read articles like this. Either way, the entire thing is a mess and the Liberals have turned what should be a great story for them into a downright mess.


3. Mark your calendar for the four, count 'em, four debates. There's a new format this year too which should cut down on the childish squabbling.


4. Good grief. We can put Harper down as 0 for 2, after another bad day. By suggesting he'd appoint a federal prosecutor, Harper:

a) Showed he doesn't understand law
b) Showed that he doesn't consult with Peter MacKay
c) Told Canadians he wants to bring Ken Star north


5. Canada made the Daily Show last night! And the Colbert Report! You can catch the Daily Show clip here and the Colbert clip here. I'll admit I'm like most Canadians and get downright giddy when Canada is mentioned on US television. I guess it's just because I, unlike Stephen Harper, love Canada!


6. I'd keep an eye on this story. It's not real news yet, but it could become huge.

27 Comments:

  • You knee-jerked on 4(c). It should be:

    Paul Martin criticized special prosecutors as an American idea.

    and you need a 4(d)

    He did it without talking to Stephen Owen.

    spector:

    "Perhaps he does not recall that the chap who designed British Columbia's system is none other than Stephen Owen--who happens to serve these days in Mr. Martin's cabinet".

    By Anonymous yyc, at 11:20 PM  

  • Better yet let's just score Martin as follows:

    (a) He doesn't understand Nova Scotia, British Columbia, United Kingdom and Australia precedents.

    (b) Didn't consult with Stephen Owen.

    (c) Told Canadians they can't have independence on prosecution decisions becuase Americans do.

    By Anonymous yyc, at 11:30 PM  

  • You'd be surprised at the coverage of international events like the Olympics in Quebec. Quebec athletes are identified and reported as Quebecois. I've seen medal standings with Quebec identified separately from the ROC, primarily in the winter games.

    And Breezeby is actually playing well in Colorado this year. No word on further Parisien holidays...

    By Anonymous NotNormallyPedantic, at 11:43 PM  

  • I think Norman Spector would be to differ on the Special Prosecutor:

    Gomery inquiry fell short of U.S. model

    7 November 2005

    The Globe and Mail

    Page S1

    In the preface to his report on the sponsorship scandal, Mr. Justice John Gomery cites the inquiry as proof “our democratic institutions are functioning well and objectively.” Prime Minister Paul Martin has repeatedly referred to another passage, in which Judge Gomery writes that few countries in the world can match us.

    I beg to differ.

    Judge Gomery was appointed by the federal cabinet — effectively by Mr. Martin, one of the two prime ministers whose conduct he was investigating.

    For a better model, the commissioner could have looked to the United States where, after Watergate, Congress created the Office of Special Counsel.

    With those powers and that independence, Kenneth Starr secured the impeachment (though not the conviction) of former president Bill Clinton.

    And, after the office was abolished in 1999, the appointment of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, also with no political involvement, led last month to the indictment of the chief of staff to the vice-president.

    Had Judge Gomery and Mr. Martin been interested in a similar model closer to home, they need only have looked to British Columbia.

    In cases involving the investigation of a premier or other politicians, the assistant deputy attorney-general, a career public servant, appoints a special prosecutor whose name is drawn from a list developed in consultation with the treasurer of the Law Society. That outside lawyer makes the final decision about whether to prosecute or not.

    No cabinet minister is involved in the appointment of the special prosecutor here.

    And, if the attorney-general wishes at any point to intervene in the process, he must do so by written directive that is made public.

    Perhaps this explains why two of our premiers — Bill Vander Zalm and Glen Clark — were charged with criminal offences (both were subsequently acquitted). But it's the case of a third premier, Dave Barrett, that demonstrates the full benefits of our system. For when the special prosecutor rejected an RCMP recommendation to prosecute for the alleged misappropriation of charity funds by the finance minister, British Columbians readily accepted the decision.

    In Ottawa, by contrast, lawyers representing Jean Chrétien, alleging bias, will be challenging Judge Gomery's findings before the Federal Court.

    Even if there were no substance to their concerns, you can understand why the former prime minister might be suspicious of a process launched by his great rival, and successor.

    In fact, there is reason for all Canadians to be skeptical about a report that ends up blaming one prime minister and expects us to believe the other saw nothing and didn't know much more. In reading the report, one almost gets the impression that it was written by two different men.

    Mr. Chrétien insists his chief of staff, Jean Pelletier, only provided “input” into sponsorship decisions; Judge Gomery concludes that Mr. Pelletier was effectively running the show. I served as chief of staff to former prime minister Brian Mulroney, and later, as a deputy minister, I was on the receiving end of Mr. Pelletier's “input,” so Judge Gomery's conclusions about the way Ottawa really works have the ring of truth to me.

    The judge's findings with respect to Mr. Martin seem curiously tender by contrast. He finds that the Chrétien cabinet was wrong to call for a “substantial strengthening” of the Liberal Party in Quebec in setting up the program; however, he ignores Mr. Martin's attendance at that meeting and collective responsibility for the decision.

    Testimony at the inquiry confirmed that Mr. Martin's Montreal office was lobbying for a sponsorship grant for former hockey star Serge Savard — a supporter and contributor, but not a constituent — as early as 1999.

    Though Judge Gomery holds Mr. Chrétien “personally responsible for the actions or the inaction of Mr. Pelletier and other exempt staff in his office,” he reaches precisely the opposite conclusion in the case of Mr. Martin and the Montreal office.

    Reading the report, I found myself wondering whether the outcome would have been different had Mr. Chrétien appointed the commission chair and still been in office to receive his findings.

    Now, with the former prime minister's decision to appeal to the Federal Court, the majority of whose judges he appointed unilaterally, we have yet another example of where Canadian democracy lags the U.S. system — at least in perception, and possibly more.

    nspector@globeandmail.ca

    By Anonymous Don Mitchell, at 12:03 AM  

  • What can you add to that.

    Norman....fine piece

    /bows down

    By Blogger NorthBayTrapper, at 12:42 AM  

  • Federal Prosecution Service
    DESKBOOK


    It is clear that the Attorney General of Canada has authority to prosecute in the following situations:

    1. under all federal statutes, where the prosecution takes place in the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut;

    2. where a prosecution is conducted pursuant to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act;

    3. where federal officials lay an information for a non-Criminal Code offence and a federal prosecutor conducts the proceedings;

    4. where persons other than federal officials lay an information which is then by arrangement or practice referred to a federal prosecutor to conduct the proceeding;

    5. where a provincial Attorney General has conferred authority to prosecute a specific charge; and

    6. where the Criminal Code provides specific authority to the Attorney General of Canada to conduct a prosecution.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 AM  

  • Let's be clear:

    2 provinces have independant decisions to prosecute these situations today. 8 don't.

    The Converservatives are proposing that federal prosecutions be independant as in NS and BC.

    This does not oblige the other 8 provinces to change.

    According to the Supreme Court Parliament is also free to assign certain (but not all) matters in the criminal code to federal prosecution.

    This proposal is not a legislative package. The debate is still on principles.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:14 AM  

  • Liberals. Just down right irritating and aggravating. Just goes to show they don't understand Canada or Canadians. But they sure like to buy them with their own money. If it wasn't for the Chretien and Martin civil war, none of this would of come to light. Who amongst us, think the Liberals should be left to investigate themselves? Oh, I know. Liberals. What a drag for Canada.

    By Anonymous I Love Canada, at 1:47 AM  

  • Calgary Grit,

    I think you're mistaken, a federally appointed prosecutor would have the authority to prosecute individuals under all federal statutes. Conventionally, provincial governments prosecute a number of federal crimes such as under the Criminal Code but its not unusual to see federal attornies prosecuting drug offenses and the like. Furthermore, they would be able to consolidate any other matters that were related to federal matters into one prosecution with the consent of the province.

    By Blogger Chris, at 2:32 AM  

  • Okay, okay stop yourself, what is wrong with Quebec sending its own team to any international event? Scotland does. Wales does. Northern Ireland does and so does England. What are you afraid of, losing to them? It is hardly an earth shattering idea. Is it just not plausible your lack of understanding of their reasoning for wanting to do so, just illustrates why they should? I enjoy French Canada, English Canada and Native Canada but am not threatened by any part of Canada or any new idea, that any segment of Canadian society in a majority is in favour of at all. Why make such a bid deal out of such a little idea?

    By Anonymous Chasdflynn, at 5:32 AM  

  • Re Federal Prosecutions

    There are hundreds of Federal Prosecutors (Dept. of Justice Canada) prosecuting crimes, as per the Deskbook described above, every single day of the week.

    Go check out some more comments to that effect on Jason Cherniaks site (not his post, which is wrong as well, but the comments).

    Calgary, I like your site, you have good stuff. But this "harper not knowing the law" comment is blatantly wrong, and shows a complete lack of understanding of Federal prosecutions.

    I really suggest you ammend your post.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:32 AM  

  • im glad the ignatieff thing blew up because he is a huge douchebag.

    writes on how contemporary warfare is so clinical and detached, thus creating the *danger* that countries will go to war more readily... and then supports the iraq war?

    teaches "human rights" and endorses the use of torture?

    lives in the states - brain drain, anyone? ive heard of parachute candidates, but from another country? wtf. dual citizenship is fine, but canadian residency (a condo you just bought doesnt count) is a minimum requirement.

    the liberals dont need someone whose entire freakin career is built on using the liberal language of freedom and cosmopolitanism to attain/cloak hawkish imperial aims.

    By Blogger angela, at 8:58 AM  

  • Bravo, Angela--took the words right out of my mouth. The fact that the Liberals are falling all over themselves touting this racist, pro-war supporter of torture says more about "hidden" (or not-so-hidden) agendas than has ever been said about Harper.

    At least with the Conservatives, what you see is what you get these days. But Ignatieff? As even a possible replacement for Martin someday? Why not track down Martin Bormann and parachute him into a safe riding? Anything goes with Liberals, it seems.

    By Blogger Dr. Dawg, at 9:20 AM  

  • Constitutionally, the Supreme Court has made it clear that the federal government can take over the prosecution of criminal offences. But I doubt that Mr. Harper was saying he would amend the Criminal Code to take away the jurisdiction of provincial prosecutors. That would be a pretty major fight with the provinces who think that its their constitutional authority.

    A director of public prosecutions is possible. But do the tories really want someone who will decide on criminal law policy: ie. how seriously should the prosecution treat drug, and what resources should be allocated? Its those real policy decisions which a DPP makes, not so much who gets prosecuted.

    In Canada, as opposed the the US, prosecutors do not investigate alleged offences. That is the role of the police. In most provinces, the police decide who to charge, and the prosecutors simply continue with the prosecution (and sometimes decide if to stop it if it becomes untenable).

    However, in BC, while the police investigate offences, they generally cannot lay charges unless they convince a prosecutor that they are tenable. This has lead to a lot of problems with the right wing, which gets annoyed when the police are not allowed to charge someone.

    As far as the sponsorship program, the offences were investigated by the RCMP, and perhaps the QPP. Charges have been laid. They are being prosecuted by the province. The province decided it would appeal the sentence in the case which was decided.

    Would a DPP make any difference? Probably not so much. It would be a bit of an organizational change at headquarters. Maybe a new building for the DPP. Maybe a little less patronage in appointing of agents in places which do not have staff federal prosecutors. Maybe not, I suspect the tories will likely protect their patronage in this.

    But its nothing like a "US style special prosecutor". Its just a replacement of a deputy attorney general who performs the task now.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:24 AM  

  • CG - your posts are normally quite intuitive! Sorry to pick on you but you were obviously out drinking with a partisan crowd last night.

    Federal Prosecutor = Good - resonates well with the voters.

    Ignatieff = Bad - demonstrates all that is perceived as wrong with Martin and Liberals.

    Quebec sports teams = makes most of us giggle yes, however there is a larger message here when Duceppe mentions Scotland. Scotland now has its own parliament and a form of sovreignty association. Perhaps Duceppe is playing to a number of soft voters in Quebec caught on the sovreignty/federalist fence.

    By Anonymous Sailor Man, at 9:35 AM  

  • Where exactly are all of you getting this idea that Ignatieff endorses torture? Because it certainly doesn't come from The Lesser Evil. Allow me to quote extensively from p. 142-43:

    "As a practical matter, therefore, once a state begins to torture, it soons fins itself required to murder, in order to eliminate the problem of releasing hardened and embittered enemies into the general population. Once torture becomes a state practice, it entrains further consequences that can poison the moral reputation and political legitimacy of a state. . .

    Any liberal democratic citizen who supports the physical torture of terrorist suspects in ticking bomb cases is required to accept responsibility for the psychological damage done, not only to a foreign victim, but to a fellow citizen, the interrogator. Torture exposes agents of a democratic state to ultimate moral hazard. The most plausible case for an absolute ban on physical torture (as opposed to coercion) in every circumstance is related precisely to this issue of moral hazard. No one should have to decide when torture is or is not justified, and no one should be ordered to carry it out. An absolute prohibition is legitimate because in practice such a prohibition relieves a state's public servants from the burden of making intolerable choices, ones that inflict irremediable harm both on our enemies and on themselves, on those charged with our defense. . .

    This idea helps us to see why torture should remain anathema to a liberal democracy and should never be regulated, countenanced, or covertly accepted in a war on terror. For torture, when committed by a state, expresses the state's ultimate view that human beings are expendable. This view is antithetical to the spirit of any constitutional democracy whose raison d'etre is the control of violence and coercion in the name of human dignity and freedom." Emphasis added for those of you who have obviously not read Ignatieff's work and have the misguided impression that he supports torture. It's as asinine as the Tories last year alledging that Martin supports child pornography.

    By Blogger RGM, at 10:19 AM  

  • I agree with most of the other postings here. The final legislative package would have 2 elements:

    Establishing independance on federal prosecutions as NS and BC have for provincial.

    A narrow re-assignment in the criminal code to allow federal prosecution of certain offences by federal officeholders.

    I don't have access but apparently the globe's reality check today confirms that parliament can do this.

    Harper and Mackay need to do better than yesterday, but good luck to the Liberals if they keep pushing the importance of the status quo. We can't change is not the best message.

    By Anonymous anon (10:49pm), at 11:16 AM  

  • 1. The Criminal Code is a federal statute largely administered by provincial Crowns. It does not regulate drug offences.

    Harper could create the office by ammending the Criminal Code (it's done all the time), leaving the C.C. as is and creating a federal-provincial entente via mutual "handshake legislation" to span the constitutional divide(also done all the time - think agriculture), or just via informal agreements (done every day in every province).

    2. "Necessity may require us to take actions in defence of democracy which will stray from democracy's own foundational commitments to dignity.": Micheal Ignatieff. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_PrintFriendly&c=Article&cid=1125138450212&call_pageid=971358637177

    By Blogger matt, at 11:19 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger matt, at 11:21 AM  

  • Let's try that link again: merge the following two sections (it's a good read).

    http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/

    Article_PrintFriendly&c=Article&cid=1125138450212&call_pageid=971358637177

    By Blogger matt, at 11:23 AM  

  • richard: the problem with Ignatieff is not his musings on great and little russians.

    it's the pretense of due process in the nomination procedure. martin could have appointed him. he didn't. the parachute plan was over a week old when the locals were given less than 24 hours to file. they hid behind glass doors when filers arrived. and then they quashed a riding exec's nomination for not resigning his post before his filing.

    it's a bloody mess. and they are welcome to it.

    By Anonymous yyc, at 11:31 AM  

  • Ignatieff does not support terrorism. Where do people come up with this stuff? Surely not from reading his articles or books. Read A Lesser Evil for starters, then you'll be better informed than talking to a friend who spoke to someone who thought he read an article or heard something on the radio.

    By Anonymous Jim, a Liberal in Calgary, at 11:35 AM  

  • richard, go eat a nice soft turd, because ive read ignatieff. being all "wah wah you havent read him" is just as lame an attack as name-calling when you dont even know the person.

    the problem is that due to my mistrust of the neoliberal-neorealist consensus cottage industry in most academic institutions south of the border, i also like to monitor what comes out of their little pieholes in news articles and other events. ignatieff is important because he is a public intellectual, not just some harvard author.

    this opposition to a ban on torture would be significant if he hadn't stated that he was pro "coercive interrogations" ... this is more in line with his theoretical bent of "liberal imperialism"

    people often fall into the trap of accepting ignatieff's lofty liberal language without applying a critical reading which exposes the type of policy he is defending in the name of this idyllic democratic freedom.

    By Blogger angela, at 4:16 PM  

  • You lost any shot at credibility in that response right off the bat. Since it's Grit's page, I'm not going to engage in childish tactics in this forum.

    By Blogger RGM, at 7:04 PM  

  • angela unleashes poopoo comment attack, which uses up the rest of richard's hitpoints? how sad.

    who rides a high horse in the blogosphere anymore? has anyone seen this place?

    i had credibility when i initially commented with an icon of a huge, cartoon joint dangling from my mouth but god forbid i use the word TURD, because thats really making me look like some kind of lunatic.

    By Blogger angela, at 8:34 PM  

  • great topic, keep up the great posts, MMA

    By Blogger Erik Mann, at 9:37 PM  

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