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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Let the finger pointing begin! 

This story -- New RCMP boss helped censor Arar report -- is infuriating. I though Elliot was supposed to clean up the RCMP, not go along to get along.
I hope Commissioner Elliot realizes, very soon, that he is no longer a civil servant sworn to protect his Minister at all costs. Now, as RCMP Commissioner, he is sworn to protect the public "without fear, favour or affection of or toward any person".
Usually, these are not competing interests. But occasionally they are.
That his first announcement was an admission of censoring the Arar report was not an auspicious beginning:
“Given what we now know about what they are trying to suppress, it's obviously a concern that the person who is now accountable for the RCMP took such a limited view of the public's right to know about the errors and mistakes committed by the force,” said Lorne Waldman, a lawyer acting for Mr. Arar.
...“The fact that the new RCMP commissioner appears to have been involved in this process is going to pose a challenge to him as he tries to demonstrate that he's turning a new page at the RCMP,” said NDP Leader Jack Layton.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said in an interview that “the key point for me today is not Mr. Elliott, it is which ministers decided on this unacceptable level of transparency for the Canadian people.”
The finger pointing between the civil servants and the politicians about who actually made and approved the deletions has already begun. First, Elliot said
“I was certainly involved in the process leading to that decision, but that decision was a decision taken by government"
Then a spokesperson from Stockwell Day's office said:
“senior officials from various departments” decided to block out the passages before the government signed off on the recommendations."
So basically, we've got an "I didn't do it" game going on here.
But wait, there's more!
To explain why the deletions were made -- apparently its because we don't want the CIA and the FBI mad at us -- some supercilious fop "official" formulates one of the dumbest analogies I've ever heard:
Foreign intelligence is not viewed as fundamentally different from any other borrowed good or service. For that reason, Canada is wary of passing along secrets it gets from other sources, or even pointing to those sources.
“If you borrow your neighbour's pickup truck to haul a load to the dump, you don't give the keys to the kids to go for a Slurpee at the 7-Eleven,” said one official who declined to be identified. “Intellectually, it's not a difficult concept to grasp.”
No wonder the inventor of this allegory "declined to be identified" -- did he think Maher Arar's freedom, citizenship, dignity and future were the "load taken to the dump" or the "Slurpee"?

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