Saturday, January 17, 2004

PRINCIPLED

I can't remember exactly, but I think it was Paul Wells Drew Fagan who said that Justice Minister Irwin Cotler was the new minister most likely to resign on a matter of principle.

Cotler has not yet resigned, however, he has removed himself from any discussion and decisions regarding the case of Maher Arar.

Before his appointment to the cabinet, Cotler supported Arar's demand for a public inquiry into his deportation. A noted human rights lawyer, Cotler also acted as counsel to Arar during part of his imprisonment.

The justice minister speaking like a truly principled man of the law stated, "justice must not only be done, it must manifestly be seen to be done."

The irony, of course, is that a good man doing the particular right thing will make it harder for the common good to prevail. Some will argue that Cotler is shirking his responsibilities. I do not think that is so. I think the minister rightly saw himself in a conflict of interest and rightly removed himself from it. Would anyone have noticed or cared had he not done so? Perhaps not, but that's not the point. Cotler would have. He is obviously a man of principle. It is good to know that he is the minister of Justice.

Update, 12:31, 1/18/04 - In the comments Pogge makes me look lazy (which is the case in this particular instance) and does my research for me. He notes that this column from the Globe by Drew Fagan is the one in which Cotler is described as most likely to resign on a point of principle. Thanks.

Posted by Matthew @ 12:00 AM