Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mulroney-Schreiber Inquiry should be public.

Many critics have zeroed in on the narrow terms of the Mulroney-Schreiber inquiry but given the possibility of a fishing expedition and the high cost of an open-ended inquiry one can at least understand the reasons behind the decision to narrow the reference. However, terms also allow closed sessions. This has been the undoing of the Iacobucci inquiry. An inquiry is to satisfy the public that justice is done but if the inquiry goes on behind closed doors and with little disclosure of evidence the inquiry can be nothing than a show inquiry for the most part. In the Iacobucci case at least there is the fig leaf of national security to use as a rationale for holding closed sessions but in the Mulroney-Schreiber inquiry any move to close the inquiry to the public would immediately arouse suspicions of a coverup.
This snippet is from the Canadian press:

Non-partisan experts in public inquiries say closing the door on hearings at any point tends to undermine the exercise.

"The rationale for a pubic inquiry is to restore confidence in the system - that justice has been done and wrong has been found or not found in a public fashion," said Peter Russell, a retired political scientist who served as the research director to the 1980s McDonald commission into RCMP wrongdoing in the fight against Quebec separatism.

Paul Copeland, the lawyer for Abdullah Almalki at the Iacobucci inquiry, warned against another such inquiry in the Mulroney affair.

"As long as you don't want the public to know anything, it's a perfect model," he said.

And Norman Spector, Mulroney's one-time chief of staff, called Johnston's closed-door options "outrageous."

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