Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Briefing notes (2006-09-19)

A rare early week day off, and I'm on the go ... so here are my observations for the day.
  • Judge Dennis O'Connor reported yesterday (PDF) that an RCMP report containing false information and passed on to US authorities is almost certainly the reason why Maher Arar, a dual Syrian-Canadian citizen, was deported by US authorities while en route via New York and sent to Syria as a terror suspect, where he was tortured for a year. As late as last week, Dubya obliquely said he still had no apologies for those who have been falsely accused and sent to third countries; which means that until the US admitted it too made a mistake Arar is still considered a terrorist in the US even though he has been cleared in Canada. That just doesn't cut it, I have to say. If an actual crime was committed, show evidence that it was ... if it involves national security, don't have a secret trial where the evidence is shown only to prosecutors and the judge but also have an advocate who has a top secret or better clearance and can also put forward a case as to whether the evidence is crap. The fact some sections of the remain blacked out is a question mark, but one can hope that we find out the whole story at some definite point and not be kept in the dark forever. As for Arar, he deserves compensation. A lot of it -- and I think the States should pony up some dough too.
  • Bernard Lord's reign as Premier of New Brunswick is over. He lost narrowly to Liberal Shawn Graham, by a seat count of 29-26. Lord only has himself to blame, as a result of some major spending missteps during his second term as well as a continued inability to deal with the exploding costs of car insurance in the province. He did do some good, such as lowered income taxes and the elimination of tolls on the Trans-Canada Highway. It's also being suggested this morning that the redrawing of boundaries a couple of years ago, which reflected a shift of population to the major cities, may have also cost Lord. Still, Lord managed to win the popular vote, just slightly. This is yet another argument for proportional representation. Someone should not win outright unless he or she wins both the popular vote as well as the seat count.
  • Another terror alert this morning as an Air India flight was forced to return to Toronto after a suspicious package was found on board. Bully for the crew and passengers for being so alert, but someone screwed up at security at Pearson -- the package should not have allowed on board in the first place.
  • Finally, the Toronto Police union is threatening to sue people who file false claims of brutality or other forms of misconduct. Which is certainly their right, in my opinion, but once again it's a very bad public relations move to say it the way they did. A few years ago, they sold stickers saying "I support the police" which many felt was a way of buying one's way out of a parking or speeding ticket. The Toronto police, all police forces in fact, have also been long suspicious of civilian oversight. But the fact is they are our employees -- we pay their salaries through taxes. If they were allowed to be a force unto themselves, then who would police the police? No one. Coming as this does during the local election season in Ontario, it's also very suspicious timing. If the Toronto police union wants to endorse a candidate who supports greater or unlimited police powers, why don't they just come out and say it?
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