They’re Baaaack… Canada and the Constitution
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s premature prorogation is over. What did it accomplish? Lots of stress free face time at the Olympics? The public has forgotten all about prorogation, government waste, complicity in war crimes… Have we? I know I haven’t.
Amir Attaran, a Law Professor at the University of Ottawa emphatically states “The first thing is that the government should hand over the documents.”
Attaran says that “National Security’ is not a legally allowable reason to deny Parliament to access the requested documents.
Parliament is guaranteed access to uncensored documents under the Canadian Constitution.
The government’s ploy to call in a retired judge to make a ruling is a ploy, because being retired he has no authority. In fact, since the Government is paying the judge, he is an employee.
This has ceased to being about Afghan Detainees and whether they are tortured. What is at stake here is extremely high constitutional principle, about whether we are a democracy in which Parliament is supreme, or whether we are inching towards something that is slightly dangerously tyrannical. In which a sitting government can say “parliament, Tough Luck, your priviledges, your constitutional powers don’t matter.”
The power to call for persons, papers and records is absolute
It is very clear. The government must comply with the law.
The Rights to Institute Inquiries, to Require the Attendance of Witnesses and to Order the Production of Documents
The power to send for persons, papers and records has been delegated by the House of Commons to its committees in the Standing Orders. It is well established that Parliament has the right to order any and all documents to be laid before it which it believes are necessary for its information. … The power to call for persons, papers and records is absolute, but it is seldom exercised without consideration of the public interest. The House of Commons recognizes that it should not require the production of documents in all cases; considerations of public policy, including national security, foreign relations, and so forth, enter into the decision as to when it is appropriate to order the production of such documents.
[note: the emphasis is mine.]
The Globe and Mail reports: Canadian spies interrogated Afghan prisoners, insiders reveal
Some people think that this is necessary because Canada is at war. Canadian lives are being saved. Does Canada have a reason to be at war besides the fact that President Bush told us to go to war? None that I’ve ever heard.
Canada is supposed to be a sovereign nation, and we should not BE at war without the clear backing of the populace.
Canadian soldiers are dying why?
Because they were stupid enough to join our military?
Not so long ago the Canadian military was respected around the world for peacekeeping. Not any more. Now, because of Canadian participation in an unjust war Canadian complicity in torture may be at issue. Is this how you want Canada to behave? I don’t.
Terrible and unconscionable as that is, what is worse is the fact that our government is placing itself above the law in not making the necessary documents available to parliament.