Friday, January 23, 2004


At least that's what John Ibbitson thinks.

Ibbitson has joined the call for a public inquiry into the Maher Arar affair: and why? Because his rights as a reporter are now being threatend. Ibbitson writes:

Until this week, there were good reasons to oppose the idea of holding a public inquiry into the deportation and alleged torture of Maher Arar. Those reasons have now vanished, with the RCMP's decision to go after people who leak information to reporters on the case.

The reasons against an inquiry were:

First, such an inquiry could compromise national security, by revealing the ways in which Canadian and U.S. police and intelligence agencies co-operate in their efforts to detect and prevent terrorist threats.
The other reason for avoiding an inquiry is that many of the answers to questions about who told what to whom reside south of the border.

Ibbitson then gets indignant and righteous about freedom of the press:

Since the government will not or cannot be candid about who did what in this affair, and since the media are being intimidated by the police, the only recourse left is to hold the public inquiry, whatever the risks to national security.

A distinguished retired judge will have to be found; he or she will need to be given broad powers to subpoena individuals and evidence; much of the inquiry will doubtless be held in camera, and some of its findings may have to be kept from the public. But better this than innuendo and threats and assaults on the fourth estate.

Maher Arar had all of his personal liberties infringed when he was deported to Syria, imprisoned and (allegedly, as Ibbitson would have it) tortured. Never mind this though, national security is more important than a Canadian citizen's basic right to security of the person. But now one reporter's house is searched and Ibbitson is calling to take down the RCMP. Please.

Perhaps Ibbitson should consider that compromising a free press and compromising an individual's security are both infringements of basic rights. Just because Ibbitson is more likely to have his e-mail monitored by the RCMP than be deported by them does not make one offence greater than the other.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:15 p.m.