Sunday, May 30, 2010

Detainee docs and other notes

1. About this supposed issue of keeping solicitor/client privileged documents out of the pool of detainee documents to be reviewed by the MPs, I'm not sure how much of an issue it's going to be given that the Globe report says all opposition parties have rejected that proposal from the government.

But if it becomes an issue, remember that they've confounded the Elections Canada Commissioner's investigation into the in and out scheme by labelling five million pages of documents as solicitor/client privileged there. What they allegedly did while executing the in and out scheme was to copy lawyers on every document in order to down the road claim solicitor/client privilege over everything when not everything was in fact copied to the lawyers for legal advice.

So, it's in their playbook, for what it's worth, and if they somehow imported the same tactic on the same scale with the detainee documents, it would defeat the purpose of the free and full access that MPs have on this committee, likely entirely.

2. This news last night was unfortunate but also a refreshing instance of strict accountability: "Canada's top soldier in Afghanistan ousted." Rules broken, penalty applied. Accountability fosters respect for institutions.

3. Even the Yellow Beast gets that. An editorial yesterday on Tony Clement's conflict of interest allegations hit the nail on the head about Harper's hypocrisy and the disparity in treatment we're seeing as between Helena Guergis and what's now not happening with Clement.
Mr. Clement appears in an odd little video extolling Lord and Partners Ltd., which makes environmentally cleaning products and is located in his riding. The video is being shown only in China, where Lord and Partners is hoping to find some business. Mr. Clement was Minister of Health at the time; he later appointed the producer of the video, a longtime supporter, to the Canadian Tourism Commission.

The Conservatives say there is nothing wrong with this, as Mr. Clement has no financial interest in the firm.
Really? Picture Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, promoting Mars bars in Shangahi. As far as we known, the Clintons have no major interest in the Mars company. Would you expect to see the Secretary of State shilling on their behalf?

Mr. Clement may not have a financial interest in Lord and Partners, but he has a very clear political interest in being seen to help a constituent. But there is a big difference between helping a local voter with a visa problem, and showing up on Chinese TV touting one specific private company. Why this one company? Many Canadian forms make products related to environmental care. What’s wrong with them?
A more specific call for action on Clement wouldn't have hurt them.

4. Finally, here was UK Tory PM David Cameron on Friday, stating "we’re going to rip off that cloak of secrecy" on government spending by increasing disclosure.
"I think this is ridiculous. It’s your money, your government, you should know what’s going on... By bringing information out into the open, you’ll be able to hold government and public services to account."
Interesting language in light of our own ongoing engagement over MP expenses.