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Kangaroo court at Guantanamo becomes even more kangaroo’ish.

How many times do you see a civilan judge abruptly “retire” or get removed from duty as a judge – even in high profile cases where it involves the government vs whoever?

Not many – in fact, none that I can recall.

So doesn’t it strike anyone as a tad bit suspicious that the military judge presiding over Omar Khadr’s case in their military tribunal setup (which everyone else deems is illegal, except for Bush and our own Canadian government)  who hasn’t given the American government every ruling it wanted now suddenly gets removed from the case in mid-stream?

Interesting too that while the military is claiming it was a mutual decision for Justice Brownback to retire, he’s refusing comment.

I can sorta see the theory behind letting him go. I mean, how can the kangaroo court expect to get a pre-US election conviction if the military judge keeps abiding by that quaint notion known as the  rule of law? That’s only allowed for civilian courts!

How the Conservative government and Harper can continue to support this disgrace of justice is beyond me.

Your theme today on the Conservatives: secrecy, and secretive

Exhibit 1: Liberals Question Bernier Timeline:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s claim that he was in the dark until Monday about Maxime Bernier’s missing classified documents is under attack following the revelation that the sensitive papers were returned to the government some 24 hours earlier…Government House leader Peter Van Loan surprised many yesterday when he said the Prime Minister learned of the return of the documents on Sunday. “The Prime Minister said that he became aware of it on Sunday afternoon and that is when action was taken,” he said. That immediately drew “oh, oh” from opposition benches. Van Loan quickly backtracked and insisted that Harper was only told of the missing papers Monday, a timeline mocked by the Liberals.

So, secrecy on when the Conservatives actually knew about this – a revelation that Peter Van Loan may have let accidentally slip – from fatigue,  he claimed, but perhaps he really let slip the truth:

Sources said that a lawyer for Julie Couillard, Bernier’s ex-girlfriend, returned the documents to the government in the hours before she taped a television interview Sunday afternoon. She makes an oblique reference in the television interview, saying “as we speak, the lawyer has been duly mandated and the document has been returned.”

I’d like to get that lawyer on record saying that’s exactly the day when he delivered those.

Exhibit 2: The public think in a new (online) Angus-Reid poll that the Cons. are arrogant and secretive:

Half of Canadians believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is not only secretive but arrogant, according to a new Toronto Star/Angus Reid poll. The Conservatives, who have been in government for more than two years, are regarded as secretive by 50 per cent of those surveyed, with 51 per cent stating the government is also arrogant… Almost three in five – 58 per cent – are “dissatisfied” with the way the government has performed in informing the public about its policies and plans.

Exhibit 3: An article by Susan Delacourt in today’s Star describing how “it’s been a bad week for a government that prides itself on secrecy and message control”:

Taken all together, these incidents point to what seems to be a glaring irony surrounding the Harper government and its communications strategy. To wit: this capital is locked down tight when it comes to small, domestic, even trivial minutiae. But on the big important stuff, the kind of information that could affect Canada’s relations with the world, people have seen a side of the Harper communications-management machine this week that appears to be a little loose, if not chaotic.

Its amusingly painful to watch this self-immolation.

Which scandal do you go after?

Seriously, this Conservative government has so many of them going on right now, which one do you focus on if you’re the opposition? Or do you try to focus on them all, hoping that the Canadian public doesn’t care about the specifics of each scandal, but grasps that whatever the details, the Conservatives aren’t a very clean bunch while in power.

That all said, here are two things I’ve seen today that I like. First, the Canadian public seems to regard the Bernier-Couillard affair as something that needs investigation, if you believe this poll:

Canadians, according to the latest Angus Reid poll, are taking it seriously, with a majority wanting an RCMP investigation…According to the poll conducted over the past two day, the majority of Canadians believe it is a serious matter requiring the RCMP to investigate whether Bernier breached security. The online survey of 1,001 adults found that 57 per cent think an RCMP investigation into the security breach is warranted, while another 53 per cent said the Bernier situation raises questions about Harper’s judgment.

I note that we now have more sources inside the civil service apparently leaking stuff, with the Liberals now saying they’ve been told that CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, and the PMO had discussions over Julie Couillard, which Stock Day refused to confirm or deny – which might as well mean a confirmation. The Conservatives harsh treatment of the public service (not to mention all their attacks on the independent federal agencies) may be coming back to bite them – and I’m neither surprised or sad that’s hapenning.

Second, the Liberals and Dion are grabbing onto the Toronto Star report from yesterday that I talked a bit about here and charging that there was a coverup/whitewash by the Conservatives in determining who did the leak over what we’ve been calling NAFTAgate involving Barack Obama and the release of documents questioning his sincerity in opposing NAFTA supposedly to a Republican operative who then contacted the Associated Press. It’s good that Dion and the Liberals are raising this with reporters, as it keeps that story in the spotlight about how the Conservative government is so ideological, it would go to the lengths of trying to influence the US Presidential election to aid their Republican  soulmates, which a former diplomat talked about here in an article talking about Frank Sensenbrenner:

“It’s typical on the part of that far-right cabal of Tories and Republicans who have put together a network, trying to work below the radar, because they think only they can solve the problems of the two countries together”

Only the Conservative/Republican can solve the problems of the two countries. What a scary thought that is – I wonder what they consider to be problems to solve – keeping Democrats and Liberals and other “leftists” out of office? Everything  that’s happened this week almost makes the Cadman affair look tame by comparison, doesn’t it?

A new political blog to keep an eye on – Linda Diebel’s Political Decoder

Linda Diebel has been a long-time political reporter at the Toronto Star.  She’s written a lot of good stuff, and some stuff I didn’t agree with, but that happens.

She has joined her Toronto Star compatriots Antonia Z. and Susan Delacourt in starting a blog over there, called Political Decoder. Her introductory blogpost is here. I’ll be adding her to my daily reads – anyone who’s listing Peace, order and good government, eh?, Calgary Grit and The Progressive Economics Forum on her blogroll shows great promise. 🙂

Whitewash?

I agree with a couple of my blogging acquaintances – there are other stories worth discussing besides Bernier. It appears from this story by Jim Travers that there are folks inside the civil service not very happy with the Lynch Report which basically claimed it couldn’t find who leaked the Canadian government’s notes questioning Barack Obama’s truthfulness on re-opening NAFTA to the Associated Press. Those people have started talking , and according to them, the source of the leak appears to have come directly from the PMO, and it started  with them sending it to a Republican friend of theirs in Washington:

Multiple sources say the Canadian note questioning the Democrat frontrunner’s public promise to reopen NAFTA was leaked from the Prime Minister’s Office to a Republican contact before it made American headline news…Contradicting Friday’s inconclusive report, they claim the controversial memo was slipped to the son of Wisconsin Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner. Frank Sensenbrenner is well connected to Harper’s inner circle and, at Ottawa’s insistence, was briefly on contract with Canada’s Washington embassy to work on congressional relations. Contacted yesterday morning, Frank Sensenbrenner did not seem surprised and agreed to an afternoon interview. But he did not call at the agreed time and did not respond to repeated emails.

As Impolitical does, I also point to this alleged transfer of the document — this memo apparently was passed by someone in Lynch’s office to a PMP official, who gave it to Ian Brodie, the chief aide to Harper, and then a few days later that memo got faxed to the Associated Press. Someone in Lynch’s office passed this on, but the investigation of who leaked this was given to Lynch himself – Harper’s top deputy minister in the civil service?

That screams whitewash or cover up to me.  It also screams that folks in the PMO/PCO were trying to give their Republican buddies in Washington a helping hand in trying to cripple Obama’s chances at winning  the presidency. If he does win the Presidency in November, and our current Cons. government is still here in power (perish the thought), does anyone not think Obama isn’t exactly going to be appreciative of the meddling in that election the  Canadian Conservative government apparently tried to do?

Hopefully, that irritant will be gone by then, in the form of an election of our own ridding this land of the Conservative stain that has developed in Ottawa.

PS – I know Bernier is still a big story, but I’d hope to see some of the opposition questions today directed at the government in QP over this.

The Conservatives aren’t going to make very good censors if Bill C-10 passes.

Now I know it’s all Bernier all the time on the blogs – at least on the Progressive blogosphere and in the media blogs – but I caught something else today that no one seemed to catch or mention: seems like several of the Conservatives were um, a tad embarrassed that they were on the VIP list for a rather steamy sex film – a film that might be something their censor board would deny tax credits for if Bill C-10 ever was to pass – of course, someone has to actually SEE the movie to be able to make that determination, right? They’re going to have to get over […]

I guess the “busybodies” have won (or were proven right).

Your Maxime Bernier resignation timeline yesterday, and the way the Conservatives handled it:

– Around the middle of the day, when being questioned about these new reports that Maxime’s ex-girlfriend was involved with security at airports, PM Harper utters what may become a famous phrase:

“I don’t take this subject seriously.”

– In QP yesterday afternoon, in response to Michael Ignatieff’s questions, this is what Peter Van Loan said:

“Mr. Speaker,” the House leader began, “our Foreign Affairs Minister and our Prime Minister have been showing considerable leadership on the world stage”

– At about 5 pm on CBC and Don Newman’s Politics show, Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai said the following about Bernier:

“The caucus is behind him 100%. We think he’s doing a marvellous job.”

– Finally, around 7:30 7:10 pm or so, comes Harper back out to the press corps, all of a sudden taking the subject of Maxime Bernier and his ex-girlfriend VERY seriously:

Maxime Bernier has stepped down as foreign affairs minister over his sloppy handling of secret cabinet documents an error called “very severe” by Prime Minister Stephen Harper…”He told me he has left classified cabinet documents in a place that was not secure,” said a visibly shaken Harper. “Evidently this is an error that is very grave. We will review this incident.”

He accepted the resignation earlier in the day, according to this news article. I wonder how much earlier in the day. How nice of Harper to not tell his mouthpieces in QP and on TV talk shows that this was going to transpire while they went on and defended Bernier profusely to anyone who would listen. I’m sure they are thanking him profusely for his secretive manner making them look like idiots.

EDIT: I might also note that the NDP – specifically Thomas Mulclair – didn’t look too hot out of this whole affair either, since he was dismissing it on Don Newmans show right after Deepak’s claim of how everyone in Conservative-land thought Maxime was doing wonderfully. (H/T Aaron Wherry over at Macleans)

EDIT 2: Oh, and if you want to see how the Blogging Tories are trying to spin this, check out the spin cycle Mr. Stephen Taylor is trying to use for all this; apparently according to Stephen, this resignation means the government can move forward on its agenda without this distraction. That’s a pretty good attempt at spin, Stephen – at least you’re putting up a brave face about things.

Carbon tax idea seemingly gaining support across Canada.

Debate has been extensive over the past couple of weeks over whether the Liberals and Dion were suicidal over publicly committing to a carbon tax, or whether they were being visionary and the policy would be accepted by the public. A poll just commissioned by the Pembina Institute and reported on in the media over the weekend shows that the public just may be ahead of the curve on this, and that Dion and the Liberals certainly have fertile ground for their policy to be an electoral winner:

When told that the government of British Columbia had recently introduced “a carbon tax on fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” […]

Some reality for Clinton and her supporters

Delegates: Pledged Super Total Needed Obama 1,660.5 315.5 1,976 49 Clinton 1,499.5 279.5 1,779 246 Remaining 86 201 287 (2,025 delegates needed for victory. Totals updated as of May 25, 11:13 pm)

I know there are still Clinton supporters, even up here, that are still claiming Clinton still has a shot at winning, or even claiming that the remaining Democratic super delegates may yet still change their mind, but the numbers don’t lie. Clinton’s run is nearing an end. When the last contests end, Obama will be tantalizingly within reach of the magic number. Anyone who thinks the remaining supers are going to suddenly move to Hillary, particularly with […]

Supreme Court rules Canada acted illegally against Omar Khadr.

This is a big ruling that just got released that shows while Harper and the Conservatives may be okay with Guantanamo and the fact the process down there breaks international law, the Canadian Supreme Court unanimously begs to differ:

Canadian agents acted illegally when they interrogated Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and handed that intelligence to U.S. authorities, the Supreme Court ruled today in a decision damning the Bush administration’s treatment of foreign terrorism suspects. The unanimous decision released this morning said the federal government now must hand over documents pertaining to those 2003 interrogations by agents with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Foreign Affairs Department, since Canada participated […]

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