Sunday, August 12, 2007

Iacobucci Inquiry: Lessons not learned

Actually the lessons have been well learned. Releasing any embarassing "secret" can be dangerous. Therefore make sure that almost everything in the Iacobucci Inquiry is kept secret. Also, if El Maati, Nureddin, and Almalki are allowed to clear their name even more compensation might be order. Therefore ensure they have no opportunity to do that and release absolutely nothing that might further their cases.
I read a few of the comments on this article. Some are mind-boggling. One person suggests that the Arar case shows we should stop all immigration from the Middle East and that mixing cultures has been shown a failure.

Lessons not learned
Adam Radwanski, August 10, 2007 at 2:57 PM EDT

I'm back about a day late to add much of value to the Maher Arar fallout; it's been well-covered by others, including my colleagues on the editorial board. But if we're going to look ahead a little (while still looking back), it's probably about the right time to ask whether we should be asking a bit more of this.

Granted, none of the three gentlemen at the centre of the Iacobucci inquiry cut quite the sympathetic figure that Arar did. They're not as telegenic or articulate, and their innocence might not be quite as clear-cut. But bottom line is, we've got an inquiry into very familiar allegations - that Canadian citizens were imprisoned and tortured in Syria (and Egypt) with some degree of Canadian complicity - and nobody much seems to care.

More to the point, we're not being given much opportunity to care. To their credit, the Conservatives showed they took the allegations of Muayyed Nureddin, Abdullah Almalki and Ahmad El Maati seriously by appointing a retired Supreme Court justice to look into them. But then they instructed said retired Supreme Court justice to keep the inquiry "internal," by which they apparently meant secretive.

Some measure of secrecy is reasonable when national security matters are in play, but Iaccobucci seems to be taking it beyond even what the Tories had implied. The inquiry is so clandestine that even Nureddin, Almalki and El Maati aren't getting to find out much about what led to the apparent abuses they endured.

To make matters worse, he seems hell-bent on limiting the number of witnesses appearing before him. In part, it's been suggested to me, that's because he's dead-set against going past the January 2008 deadline the Tories set for his report - giving him very little time to get through three separate cases.

If the inquiry flies under the radar as it proceeds, that might not be the end of the world. But if it produces a half-assed result, we're all going to be the poorer for it. You'd think what we found out this week about the perils of secrecy would have Canadians (not least opposition politicians) crying foul. Instead, we seem to have determined that one Maher Arar is enough for us - a noble sentiment if it means preventing further cases like his, but not if it's ignoring past ones.

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