Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Iaccobucci Agrees That the Privileges of Parliament are Part of the Fundamental Law of Our Land

While everyone who knows about things like constitutional law and Parliamentary privilege, are stating that Parliament is the highest court in the land and that all Members of Parliament have the right to see all government documents, the Reformers have gone into full spin mode, believing they only have to win in the court of public opinion.

Not this time.

And while justice Iaccobucci has no legal authority to change our constitution, Neil Morrison at MacLeans suggests that he may not even try. He's been down that road before.

A question for Iacobucci

Interesting point about former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci, who as just been named by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to review the documents on the Afghan detainee controversy that Parliament ordered released last December. He was on the bench when the top court decided one of the most important cases dealing with the question of parliamentary privilege.

" In summary, it seems clear that, from an historical perspective, Canadian legislative bodies possess such inherent privileges as may be necessary to their proper functioning. These privileges are part of the fundamental law of our land, and hence are constitutional. The courts may determine if the privilege claimed is necessary to the capacity of the legislature to function, but have no power to review the rightness or wrongness of a particular decision made pursuant to the privilege."

Maybe the Reformers chose the wrong judge, though this is probably just to buy time. Perhaps they tried to appeal to a sitting judge, but were given answers they didn't want to hear.

According to constitutional law professor Amir Attaran, who saw the memos before they were run over by a magic marker:
"If these documents were released [in full], what they will show is that Canada partnered deliberately with the torturers in Afghanistan for the interrogation of detainees," he said. "There would be a question of rendition and a question of war crimes on the part of certain Canadian officials. That's what's in these documents, and that's why the government is covering up as hard as it can."


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