Now This

This blog is now read by more machines than humans: RSS robots, spam-laying insectopoids, echoes of blog-gathering .edu projects. This essentially is the state of affairs that all human activities w

Cleaning Up the Nation

Austin Bay:

If Air America were a conservative radio network its corrupt funding trail and cynical abuse of a poverty program would be front page news at the NY Times and full-time mega-scandal at

Rank Materialism

Freedom. I am now the proud new owner of a Gateway 6020GZ laptop, perfect for students and others with limited means. I can now go into a Starbucks or a Barnes & Noble and look like I'm doing some

Fallujah Fonda

Uh-oh. From the Telegraph comes this exciting news:

Jane Fonda is returning to anti-war activism and embarking on a cross-country tour to call for an end to US military operations in Iraq.

Acros

John Pilger: Partner in Terrorism

In an outrageous piece of terrorist propaganda appearing on the cover of today's New Statesman, John Pilger puts the blame for the 7/7 London attacks not on the terrorists, but rather on Tony Blair:

Ottawa Freedom

Captain's Quarters has "blown the lid off" (as they say) the Canadian Liberal Party's Sponsorship Program scandal, which is now being investigated by the Gomery Commission. Basically, the Liberal government contracted with several advertising firms to do federal government advertising and sponsorship of events and a lot of the money ended up being used for Liberal Party purposes. Somewhere along the way, organized crime got involved, unsurprisingly, since one of their specialties is taking advantage of people already engaged in crime and who therefore can't go to the police (if you remember your Goodfellas). "Lovely country you've got up here- Canada. I would hate for anyfink to happen to it."

But this post is not about the scandals themselves. This Gomery Commission has decided, for the testimony of three particular witnesses, to impose a "publication ban" on anything that comes out of that testimony. It only applies in Canada of course. The purpose of the ban is to avoid tainting potential jurors in any upcoming criminal trials resulting from the scandal. The problem with this is of course that the citizens of a sovereign state have rights which are quite separate from their responsibilities as jurors. It seems that Mr. Justice John H. Gomery sees Canadian citizens as a mere pool of potential jurors and that that concern outweighs any rights to free speech that Canadians may have. The judge has a hammer and all you Canadians are just nails.

What's freaking me out are the postings of Canadian bloggers who are subject to the publication ban. The obvious fear in their writings and their second-guessing of themselves as to what's permissable reminds me a bit of Salam Pax's pre-war blog posts. Bloggers have been arrested in Iran and Bahrain recently- will Canada be next?

Here's a sample of some Canadian posts:

[bound by gravity:] I feel I should explain why this article does not link directly to the post over at the Captain's Quarters. The publication ban is still in effect here in Canada, and as a Canadian citizen I am bound to obey the law. It would do me no good whatsoever to stick my neck out any further than I already have - this is only a hobby for me, and not worth legal trouble.

[The Sudden Sage [beta]:] I'm not so brave to write about all the specific details. Consider for yourself what would be earth-shattering news. Or hop over to the USA for more info.

[Angry in the Great White North:] Be warned -- reading or repeating this might get you into trouble in Canada....

OK, after several panicky emails and comments, and at least one blogger calling me "gutsy", I've deleted the commentary about the testimony.

[Daimnation!:] We can only speculate about what's been revealed at the Gomery Inquiry these past few days, because of the publication ban. But Ed "Captain's Quarters" Morrissey, an American blogger not bound by the ban, claims to have the details. I don't think a Canadian blogger would violate the publication ban by directly linking to the post, but just to be on the safe side, I'll ask you to copy-and-paste the URL yourself....

[Autonomous Source:] This is the information age. The government can no more prevent news from spreading than it can control the weather. An American blog, Captain's Quarters, has plenty of juicy info on Jean Brault's blacked-out testimony from the Gomery Inquiry. I'd quote some of it here, but I'm actually worried about the RCMP paying me a visit if I do. Sad, but true.

But the thaw is beginning.

[Western Standard:] In what must be a Canadian first, the news aggregator Nealenews.com has directly linked to Captain's Quarters on the Brault testimony. Technorati is showing the post is creating heavy linkage on both sides of the border.

The blogosphere has obliterated the publication ban in an electronic mushroom cloud, and more remarkably, bypassed the mainstream media in its entirety in doing so.

And there's this observation:

[The Meatriarchy, who by the way has the best subtitle I've ever seen on a blog:] More evidence of my thesis that Canadian bloggers don’t have near as much impact (or clout) as American bloggers:

Captain’s Quarters (an American blog) has a source in Ottawa who has fed him some of the behind the scenes testimony from the Gomery inquiry, which has in turn been picked up by Instapundit....

The fact that this testimony is behind closed doors is shameful - did I miss the media outcry? I seem to remember more ink being spilled over the ban at the Homolka trials. In fact the media challenge that ban in court.

The fact that a blogger south of the border has a better handle on what’s happening is embarassing.

If this happened in the US, there'd be a lot more anger over the publication ban, as the recent FEC kerfuffle suggests. Americans are a crankier lot, and less likely to put up with this kind of bullshit. And despite the efforts of the esteemed Senators McCain and Feingold, we still have free speech rights in the US.

Update: Angry in the Great White North, who's commented below, has reconsidered his self-censorship and has reposted his opinion on the scandal. That's the stuff.

After I santized my previous post about Jean Brault's testimony at the Gomery Inquiry, I felt ill. After many hours, I decided to look in my wife's purse for something that might make me feel better. But instead of Tylenol, I found a pair. I recognized them as my own, and put them back on.

Canadian bloggers- no, all Canadians- should support him.

Update: Great post on this issue from Being American in T.O. (Toronto, Ontario):

Imagine the outcry had the Watergate hearings been placed under a publication ban because some of those named faced criminal proceedings. It's a testimony to the American character that we conduct open reviews of scandals like Watergate and the Iran-Contra hearings even though it provides our enemies with a great deal of ammunition -- more than a lesser people could tolerate.

Canada put testimony in the Gomery Commission behind such a ban with nary a blush, piously citing privacy and legal concerns and knowing that the media outcry would rapidly subside as jounralists shrug because it's the kind of repression they've come to expect but which they rarely name.

But make no mistake: the media blackout is repression of a free press and in too many ways exposes what is wrong with Canada.

Later Update: More on the publications ban and Canadians' reactions at Angry in the Great White North (and he is) here and here, and a sad post called Freedom of Press is Dead at Back Off Government. American takes from Being American in T.O., who's got lots of links, here, and from The Politicker, here.

Captain's Quarters really owns this story, and it's an excellent example of a blogger doing original reporting (since the spineless Canadian press isn't). He's got many new posts since the original and has set up a link to access the story here.

Much Later Update: More here.

Trackbacks

1. Brault testimony, Part II from Being American in T.O.

Apr. 5 - I finally and completely understand why Canada has not produced a Dr. King or a Henry David Thoreau. Every blogger up here has only one decision to make: will you fight for liberty? This is an act...

Comments

I was going to explain how the situation is different, and that the ban was temporary, and this and that and blah, blah, blah. But you're right, Damn it, you are right!

So I've reported my original piece. It's too important. These people spent $250 million from the public purse as if it was their own money. They enriched themselves and their friends. And now they want key details kept secret to protect rights? what two-faced arrogance!

My post is back and can be found here:
http://angrygwn.blogspot.com/2005/04/i-found-them-in-my-wifes-purse.html

Thanks.

Great! Lets all publish the details. And the next time someone is offerred a publication ban in order to testify about incriminating details, they'll laugh, point to this example, and plead the 5th (well, in Canada its section 11, subsection c, I believe).

I applaud your efforts in contributing to the blowing open of this un-democratic publication ban in Canada. As a Canadian myself, I strongly believe such bans should not be tolerated.

However, I would caution American readers not to feel too smug about this... your own government and media (as well as the UK and other nations, of course) are so scariliy efficient at suppressing things that they've already determined you wouldn't want to know (since they know best, right?), that often no one knows there's even anything to ban...

I certainly encourage you and your readers to visit international news websites on a regular basis to keep abreast of your own domestic issues, some of which never even reach the status of having a 'publication ban' placed upon them -- what's to ban, if your own local media never even reports on it?

This isn't meant as a criticism, just as a warning to keep your mind + eyes open, and always search for many sources when researching a story, both inside & outside of your own nation.

Correction, the right to not self-incriminate oneself in Canada is under section 7 of the Charter. Verified by the Supreme Court.

I have been reading about the Inquiery and have now confirmed my suspicion about this scandal.
Most Canadians vote Liberal in this country which is a shamefull situation. It just goes to prove that most Canadians East of the Saskatchewan border are a bunch of sheep. If you tell them that the Conservatives are scary they beleive every word without investigating it on their own. They think the press would never lie about things like that. I have got news for them, the press in Eastern Canada support the Liberal government all the way. Makes you wonder what they are getting out of this. If any Canadian has two brain cells left in their head they know that the press lies all the time. I have been at political town halls that were reported the next day, not one word of truth in their article.
I truly hope the ex Prime Minister and every one connected to this are imprisoned. But of course that is not the Liberal way.

How do you feel about bans on Grand Jury proceedings? Do you feel that they're undemocratic?

Yes, I believe that the ban in the Commission Gomery is antidemocratic. But don't forget that in Canada there is no proctection against self incrimanation as the 5th amendment in USA. Witnesses may be accused and condamned for comtempt of the court if they refused to answer even incriminating questions.
But nevertheless, the actual ban in a public commission of investigation is not acceptable.
As for the the vote for the LPC by the eastern part of Canada, you cannot put Québec with the other eastern provinces. Ontario voted LPC because this province has always profit by the actual constitution of Canada. The 4 maritmes provinces that have not enough tax revenu because of poor economy receive lots of money from Ottawa. Québec has always been disfavored by this system. In the last federal election, the Québécois voted for the only party that has the mission to defend Québec interest: Le Bloc québécois. We élected 54 deputies on a maximum fo 75 and with a very high percentage in the votes, more that 50%. We do not support the LPC. The majority of Québécois believe that it is a rotten party and that it should be put aside for a while. The problem is that the 9 other provinces are divided into 3 parties: Conservatives, Liberals and the New Democratic Party. That is why the Liberals get elected. They do not have any united opposion. Unfortunately, the PC and the NPD have a bad reputation in Québec. The Québécois do fit in their platform. They do not find their place in these 2 parties. They are in minority on almost all the decisions. So these 2 parties do not have any influence in Québec.

I am reading with interest the posts on the differences in the American and Canadian system on the issue of self incriminating testimony.
In the USA one can use the 5th Amendment to refuse to answer questions on the grounds that to answer would be self incriminating.
In Canada the question must be answered but the person can invoke the "protection" of s. 5 of the Canada Evidence Act which does in effect the exact same thing. Under the provisions of the Canada Evidence Act any testimony under the "protection" of the Canada Evidence Act cannot be used in future proceedings.
So ultimately it is the same result with merely a different route to get there.

WOW WOW WOW ! THE BAN IS LIFTED !!!!!!!!
People who voted Liberal are either stupid or bastards. You choose !!!!

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