Friday, December 11, 2009

One more time, trying for actual intellectual discourse.

This whole Afghan detainee clusterfuck has provided us with a delicious example of whether Canada's dipshit wankers are actually capable of legitimate intellectual discourse (every bit of evidence to the contrary, of course). It's all based on this eye-opening new development:

Ottawa won't release Afghan documents

Harper government says it will not comply with Opposition motion passed by Parliament, setting stage for legal battle

So, before we even get into the meat of the article, let's notice that what's mentioned above is, quite correctly, a "legal" battle, which is exactly what it should be. Apparently, both sides believe they have the law on their side, so one suspects that, in the near future, they're both going to be making their case. Having set the stage that way, let's now read into the article to see the very subtle but significant shifting of the goalposts:

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day indicated this morning that the opposition parties would have to go to the courts to get all the information they're seeking.

A PMO spokesperson later confirmed that the Conservative government does not intend to turn over the documents as ordered by Parliament.

The government will respect laws intended to protect national security and the operational security of the Afghan mission, the spokesperson said.

"When people ask for all the information, when they ask for every little bit of information ... it would be naive to the extreme to think that that information can be given out. I don't think Canadians would like the fact that our troops would be unnecessarily exposed," Day told reporters during the release of a quarterly progress report on Canadian involvement in Afghanistan.

Pause. Go back and read that last paragraph again, particularly this part:

"I don't think Canadians would like the fact that our troops would be unnecessarily exposed."

And while I'm sure they wouldn't, make sure you understand that that sentiment is not a legal argument. It's an opinion. It's a suggestion. It's a warning. It's a caution that releasing that information could possibly be a bad thing. But it's most emphatically not a legal argument.

If the Stephen Harper Brownshirt Party of Canada wants to continue to conceal those documents, then they're free to argue their case in Parliament or even in a court of law, just as the Opposition is free to argue their side. But the arguments should be based solely and exclusively on the law, and not on opinions or fearmongering.

The Conservatives might genuinely believe that releasing those documents poses a threat to our troops. (Personally, I don't buy that but only because I'm convinced that Stephen Harper lies every time he opens his mouth so I just assume he's always lying. But I digress.) But fearing the consequences of turning over those documents has no place in a court of law. Whether or not that's a good idea is not relevant. Parliament has voted, and the results are in. And they should be respected. Which brings us to our experiment.

Let's watch carefully, and see if a single one of Canada's yappy, screeching Blogging Tories is capable of writing something logical and intelligent on this topic. Something that actually addresses the legal issues. Or will every one of them just screech pitifully about "national security" and those poor, vulnerable Canadian soldiers, yap yap yap.

I have no idea if those documents represent a threat to the troops. Maybe not, maybe so. Hard to say. But it doesn't matter. Because Parliament has spoken and that's the law. But it should be amusing to see if a single Canadian wingnut can avoid yanking their panties up to their neck in hysteria to actually address the legal aspects here.

Thoughts? Anyone willing to make a bet? I'll give you odds. Seriously, I'll give you some wicked good odds.

AFTERSNARK: Normally, I'd be interested in what Captain Canada Stephen "Senior Fellow for Democracy Freedom Democracy Manning Institute Protecting Freedom and Democracy" Taylor thinks about Stephen Harper refusing to obey a vote of Parliament, but since Taylor genuinely believes that a coalition government is an unconstitutional travesty of democracy, I'm guessing that his opinion has about as much value as what my cat squeezes out into her litter box on a regular basis.

At least my cat has the sense to be embarrassed about it and promptly covers it up. Were that Stephen Taylor had that kind of shame.


double nickel said...

There is zero chance that the mouthbreathers will get past the neocon talking points. The entire Opposition will continue to be branded Taliban sympathizers. The sad truth is that they are incapable of independant thought.

CC said...

So you don't want a piece of that action, then? :-)

Backseat Blogger said...

who knows what the bloging tories will write about. 'climategate' seems to be the topic of the moment there.

on the face of it parliament is supreme. however parliament is also bound by the laws it itself has passed. in this case that would be privacy and security laws. In other words Parliament cannot break the law nor can if force the government to do so.

the government has the strong legal hand in this fight. public perception is another thing, of course.

if parliament really, really wants to see those reports then it is going to have to pass a specific law exempting the release of these document to parliament.

the key paragraph of the story is not the fourth paragraph but the third.

"The government will respect laws intended to protect national security and the operational security of the Afghan mission, the spokesperson said."

Dave said...

"The government will respect laws intended to protect national security and the operational security of the Afghan mission, the spokesperson said."

All it takes is another motion send that swirling into the S trap.

There is Westminsterian precedence in which the government is required to prove the need for security by disclosing the uncensored information to the leader of HM Loyal Opposition in a secure setting.

Doctor Cynic said...

Backseat Blogger, I just want to make a key point about your comment.

Parliament passed a law to protect security. But Parliament can *always*, at any time, go back and amend laws or make exceptions to it as it sees fit, as long as it is not against the Charter of Rights. This is descended from the English tradition of Parliamentary Supremacy. It did so yesterday. If the documents are not handed over then the government is in contempt of Parliament. I recall the last time this happened was in 17th Century England, when King Charles eventually lost his head.

Jon Dursi said...

Extending Dr. Cynic's comments:

Parliament's internal workings, and issues of parliamentary privilege (which include demands of production of documents for such things as investigations) are *not* subject to general statutory law. There's also very unlikely to be any arguing in a court about this matter, because the supreme court has already stated that ``The House of Commons is not subject to the control of Her Majesty's Courts in its administration of that part of the statute law which has relation to its own internal proceedings'' (Canada v Vaid 2005).

The parliamentary law clerk's letter to the DOJ about this ( ) makes very interesting reading.

Noni Mausa said...

Oy. I elected (or helped to elect) an MP to look after my concerns in Ottawa. This means that by and large I trust this person to do that job.

Everyone else in Canada did the same thing. Altogether, we sent 308 people to look after our interests.

But now 146 of these people have decided that the other 162, including my MP, can't be trusted with precious national secrets -- secrets they are keeping safe in a magic velvet bag under the pillow at 24 Sussex Drive. The trouble with velvet bags like that once you've got one, anything can be hidden in there.

I didn't send my MP to Ottawa to sit in the back seat and knit while Steve does all the steering. Time for a coalition.

(No need to hold an election to get a coalition, either - they finally seem to realize that, thank heavens.)

double nickel said...

What Noni said +