Friday, April 08, 2005

OK, my last, LAST thoughts...for now

Babble on.

While Blogspot was busy enacting its own publication ban yesterday and today, it seems some commenters were unable to reply to my post here. At least one of them e-mailed me instead:

Your premise is incorrect.

I never accepted that linking to legally obtained information on a US site constituted publication - Irwin Cotler's office doesn't make law.

What they did was _threaten_ to lay contempt charges. Threat is the operative word. There's no need to write law or prove your case if you can simply intimidate people into backing down, is there? I chose not to back down.

That said, I had a heads up on the content that would be published.

It was pretty clear it had very little to do with Brault and a whole lot to do with very powerful people who would do whatever it took to have it never see the light of day if they were able. Remember that the original plan was to keep the ban in place until the jury was sequestered.

The Liberal machine used the time the ban afforded them to try to innoculate the public, to spin, to confuse and maneuver (eg. Liberal Party asks RCMP to investigate fraud against it). And that was just on the surface. There will be an army of lawyers plotting strategy around the clock.

The flood of readers and media frenzy over Captains Quarters undoubtedly helped speed the lifting of the ban. Without the public and media outcry over the details that were leaked (leak is a bad word, as the hearings were always public anyway) the ban might have remained in place much longer.

Her first point is well-taken, and supported by others with some legal training: Quebec Liberal MP Irwin Cotler's office doesn't have the final word on what constitutes a breach of the publication ban. And it's certainly not unheard-of for a Liberal lawyer to threaten frivolous court action in order to stifle critics.

I have a hard time swallowing Kate's second point, where she seems to imply that Gomery is complicit in the Liberals' attempts to bury damaging information indefinitely. Justice Gomery is no friend to the Liberals - efforts to discredit him such as 'Gomery Pyle' commentary and the accelerating push to unseat him sway me here. Besides, as I've stated previously - ad nauseum, all over the blogosphere in fact - if he'd really, really wanted to sweep this testimony under a heavy rug, he would have heard it in camera. Ask Maher Arar just how effective that tactic can be.

Kate's third point, crediting Captain's Quarters for the speedy release of Brault's testimony is open to perpetual debate. If the trial date hadn't been postponed, we might still be under the ban; if Captain Ed hadn't publicized the testimony, Gomery might still have removed the ban once the testimony was complete; if Brault’s testimony had proven relevant to his trial, it might have remained under wraps.

If, if, if. I tend to take Gomery at his word here: he needed to hear all the testimony before he could determine what would be prejudicial, and what wouldn't. He imposed a temporary ban in order to consider that question, and lifted as much of it as possible, as quickly as possible.

Here's my question for Kate, Angry in the Great White North, and those who actively undermined Gomery's original injunction, but support the continuation of the partial ban even now: how exactly do you reconcile these positions?

Even more importantly, if Paul Coffin’s testimony, to pick an example, is put under a temporary publication ban as Brault’s was, but this time much of it turns out to be pertinent to his upcoming criminal trial, will you promote circumventing the ban once again? I’m certain some enterprising foreign blogger will publish a bootleg summary, so it’s entirely possible you’ll be forced to deal with this situation in the near future.

Alternatively, if Gomery decides not to engage in an unedifying game of electronic hide-and-seek with bloggers, and holds future testimony in camera instead, will your effort to promote ‘free speech’ in Canada not have proven counterproductive?

I think Alan’s position from my comments, while naïve (each party has its own sources within the inquiry, and will inevitably know more than you do, more quickly than you do – in camera, publication ban, or nothing at all), is at least consistent: all testimony or none, for everyone.

One thing is certain: the debate over freedom of information in this country is far from over.

Babble off.


At 3:54 p.m., Blogger Alan said...

Cool! I'm naive! Thank God. I am totally going to rub this in the faces of all those people who've so hurtfully called me cynical over the years. Yeah, baby! Woooooohooooooooo! How do you like me now!? Not so smart now, are you?

Thanks Damian.

At 5:23 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Well, that naive thing lasted all of - what? - not quite an afternoon? You cynically sarcastic cynic, you.


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