Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Conservatives make a witness list

Interesting list here, to put it mildly: "Peladeau, Von Finckenstein, Sun Media journos to testify before committee on CBC."

It's bad enough that multiple representatives who abhor public funding for the CBC will be given a platform. Why 3 of them? I count Pierre Karl Peladeau, Brian Lilley and Ezra Levant in that category. Talk about a Sun Media gang up. All flat out competitors to the CBC, their interests are clear. Here's Peladeau's call for a review of the CBC's funding by the way (no longer seems to be hosted on the Financial Post/National Post network sites).

The Conservatives with their majority government should not be promoting the interests of one broadcaster like this. That's what they're doing by giving them a platform in a Commons committee to complain about the CBC, its access to information issues, etc.

And then there's David Coletto of Abacus Data who will testify. I guess because he did that poll on people not knowing how much the CBC gets in the way of funding. Does conducting a poll on an issue related to the CBC mean that the pollster has some particular insight or knowledge about CBC funding? Not that I can tell. Are we going to see the Conservatives calling pollsters to committees now on other issues too? I think that would be wrong, we can all take note of a given poll here and there. But making pollster views part of a parliamentary record is a questionable practice.

The big kicker is this:
The Conservative’s witness list also includes Federal Court Justice Richard Boivin who ordered the CBC in 2010 to provide financial information for the information commissioner to review. However, MPs cannot compel a sitting judge to appear before a committee.
Pretty sure Justice Boivin won't be attending. But the choice to include him on a committee witness list says a lot. Even if they know MPs can't summon a sitting judge, it's wrong to have included him. We can all take note that the ruling was made and I'm sure it'll be discussed during these hearings.

But the proposition that a judge could be summoned before a committee and questioned by politicians over a decision he made...that's totally inappropriate. Judges should be free to decide knowing that they won't be so questioned by politicians. That their names won't appear on witness lists at Commons committees. His inclusion on the witness list suggests that the Conservatives feel it is appropriate to summon a judge. That's chilling.

We gloss over a lot these days. This should not be.