Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday morning notes: Gitmo & the Brazeau implosion watch

1. Bit of a shocker in the National Post, good news if it comes true: "Khadr charges will be dropped, lawyer predicts."
Charges against Omar Khadr will be dropped "without prejudice" shortly after Barack Obama's inauguration on Jan. 20 as president, U. S. military lawyers for the Canadaborn terror suspect predicted yesterday.

The technical arrangement would effectively suspend the Jan. 26 start date for his trial before a military commission at the U. S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Could be a bit of political pressure being applied by Khadr's lawyers, based on some discussions of options for Khadr that they've had with the Obama transition team, as reported in yesterday's Star. They may be cherry picking the best of a range of options discussed with the Obama people, but still, this sounds good.

Stephen Harper, meanwhile, from accounts of his comments in B.C. yesterday is still just standing around on this one as he has done for years, waiting to be told what to do. And apparently hoping Khadr will remain in U.S. custody, what with his clinging to the notion that Khadr's been charged-his case is different-people, calm down-approach from yesterday. You see? Leadership in action here, waiting for someone else to do the right thing.

2. Following that item, a big shout out to Senator Romeo Dallaire today for doing his thing on the Khadr matter yesterday in Washington, advocating for Khadr in the abysmal absence of the Canadian government. Now there's a Senator with stature.

3. In contrast, on the Brazeau watch, that's a whole other can of worms. More on what really should be an imploding Senate appointment in this Globe report today. But it's not just Brazeau being affected, now it appears CAP is experiencing significant fallout in the wake of Brazeau's tenure. And it sure as heck looks like keeping that board report on Brazeau away from the board is coming back to bite with a vengeance.
The national aboriginal organization led until last Friday by new Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau is on the verge of collapse amid the fallout from his controversial leadership as national chief.

Affiliates of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents off-reserve natives from Ontario and the western provinces, are threatening to pull out unless their board members receive a report they've been demanding on allegations of sexual harassment filed last March against Mr. Brazeau.

They are also demanding the recognition of an Alberta affiliate and the reinstatement of the Manitoba wing, suspended just days before the annual general meeting. The Manitoba president has said he intended to go public at the meeting with allegations of harassment and heavy drinking by senior staff at the Congress's Ottawa headquarters.

David Dennis, president of the Congress's British Columbia affiliate, the United Native Nations Society, said the western leaders believe Mr. Brazeau's stated commitment to open and transparent governance was betrayed by his handling of the allegations against him. "It raises a lot of questions of, is it a cover-up?" said Mr. Dennis, who speaks on behalf of a new group calling itself the Western Indigenous Alliance.
Good question and it looks like it's time for the board to assert itself. They commissioned the report, they retained the firm, then they are the client and they're entitled to see the report. It sounds instead as if Brazeau managed the board, contrary to the interests of the organization:
Mr. Brazeau has maintained that an independent report cleared him of allegations relating to text messages and phone calls between him and a female former employee in late 2007 and early 2008. He has said board members were given a summary, rather than the full report, to protect the identities of those who co-operated with the investigation. The woman has since taken the complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Time for a re-vote on the matter? There's much more in that Globe story, including the sentiment being expressed that Brazeau's Conservative-friendly ways are perhaps going to be a thing of the past with the future iteration of CAP.

Let's throw in this bit of reporting from CanWest on Friday, for additional context, which was overshadowed by news of Patrick Brazeau's resignation from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples:
In March, the board ordered an independent law firm to investigate workers' stories of misconduct. At the same time, it suspended Brazeau with pay.
The report cleared the chief in September, but the bill added up to a whooping $67,000 and the report remained confidential.
"We wanted to know what was going on," Menard said. "We'd paid $67,000 for a report we couldn't get our hands on." (emphasis added)
So on top of the news of conflict in Brazeau's former organization that may spell significant trouble, there's the unhelpful fact that Brazeau was suspended for approximately 7 months in 2008 while the sexual harassment allegations were being investigated. Yet ended the year appointed as a Conservative Senator.

Did Harper shoot himself in the foot multiple times over by appointing Brazeau? Sure looks like it. Let's see...it's a p.r. disaster, compounding the attention on his orgy of Senate patronage, and he loses Brazeau as head of CAP, a useful shield for him on aboriginal policies. Or is the master tactician three moves ahead of us here?

Think that's a good place to end this morning...