Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stockwell Day lets US ATF make bullet announcement for him

One of the nice things about the Net is that it has allowed reporters to go beyond the constraints of a print or broadcast article and call things like they are. Many scribes have taken up their own blogs and record their thoughts about not just the stories they write but the story behind the story -- a text version of shows such as BBC Radio 4's venerable From Our Own Correspondent. The CBC's Washington Bureau chief, Henry Champ, wrote an entry in his blog yesterday that raises new questions about just how secretive "Canada's New Government" (CNG) has become. (That's another thing -- it's been almost ten months. Haven't we all had enough of the "New"?)

The gist is this: The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm and the Mounties signed a memorandum last Thursday to allow the exchange of ballistics testing data, and in addition the Canadian government has consented to an ATF field officer being posted in Toronto. Not such a bad idea, given many of the gun crimes committed in Canada are the result of bullets fired from firearms being smuggled from the States. One would think that this is something the Canadian government would want to trumpet about. Nope. Champ writes that the announcement was made through an on-line press release at the ATF's website.

Stockwell "Jet Ski" Day, who was meeting with US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in Asheville, North Carolina never bothered to tell the press. He didn't even invite the press even for a post meeting photo-op, saying he'd talk to them if and only if he felt like it. Champ speculates the real reason the Ottawa Press Gallery wasn't invited on the trip was because CNG was afraid they'd asked Gonzales some very embarrassing questions about Maher Arar, the Canadian who was wrongly deported by the Americans to Syria so that country could torture him.

What bothers me about it isn't that Stockwell Day or anyone else in CNG doesn't believe in freedom of information. It's that an international treaty or at its base a simple protocol of understanding was being signed, something of interest to both countries, and the government believes somehow we don't have a right to know about that. Oh, if it's a tax treaty or an update to the extradition agreement, or even the permanent extension of NORAD, we do have the right. But not this? What else don't we have a right to know -- Day's expense account during the trip, or the cost of the flight on the offical government airplane?

Anyone need convincing now that CNG has a hidden agenda? Such as letting the contract of the new naval port in Iqaluit to an American company -- say Halliburton -- without bid? I thought the Americans don't recognize our sovereignty north of 60.

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