April 5, 2005


Canada's Press Crackdown (Howard Kurtz, Apr 05, 2005, Washington Post)

You often hear about dictatorships cracking down on Internet news to maintain censorship as tightly as possible. These are generally the kind of regimes that not only try to choke off free expression but are fighting a losing battle against technology in the process.

And the latest offender is . . . Canada?

Yes, our democratic neighbor to the north, which lacks a First Amendment and has a somewhat narrower view of press freedom, is cracking down on an American blogger for reporting on a corruption investigation that apparently has to do with advertising contracts being steered to politically connected firms. The blogger is Ed Morrissey of Captains Quarters, and this London Free Press story brings us up to date:

"A U.S. website has breached the publication ban protecting a Montreal ad executive's explosive and damning testimony at the federal sponsorship inquiry. The U.S. blogger riled the Gomery commission during the weekend by posting extracts of testimony given in secret Thursday by Jean Brault.

"The American blog, being promoted by an all-news Canadian website, boasts 'Canada's Corruption Scandal Breaks Wide Open' and promises more to come. The owner of the Canadian website refused to comment.

"Inquiry official Francois Perreault voiced shock at the publication ban breach, and said the commission co-counsel Bernard Roy and Justice John Gomery will decide today whether to charge the Canadian website owner with contempt of court."

Tories to decide on election after sponsorship publication ban lifted: MacKay (ALEXANDER PANETTA AND DAN DUGAS, 4/05/05, CP)
The Conservatives will decide whether to trigger an election after a publication ban is lifted on shocking testimony at the sponsorship inquiry, deputy Conservative leader Peter MacKay says.

The sensational details delivered by Liberal-friendly ad executive Jean Brault could become public this week.

And the Tories will judge whether the wave of public anger over the sponsorship scandal becomes enough of a deluge to carry them into office, MacKay suggested.

"If they lift the publication ban, then and only then will we be able to assess how the public reacts to it - but the directions it's going right now, it's extremely serious," MacKay said.

"The more serious the allegation, the more serious the evidence that comes forward (will be) impacting on the fortunes of the government and our opinion on whether we would support any kind of motions that would trigger an election."

A suddenly emboldened opposition prepared for the lifting of the publication ban by dancing around devastating details that can't yet be revealed.

But their questions in Parliament Tuesday gave a hint of the electric political atmosphere that awaits release of the Gomery testimony.

Too bad their Tories seem almost as brain dead as Britain's.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 5, 2005 8:26 PM

I swear that Daimnation once linked to an article that said Canada was toying w/the idea of controlling/doling out all ISPs.

Let's see where this takes them.

Posted by: Sandy P at April 5, 2005 8:50 PM

What is really strange about this is that the testimony at the inquiry is open to the public and widely known in political and journalistic circles, but it can not be published.

Posted by: jd watson at April 5, 2005 11:30 PM

Seems to me they can always haul out the Bush card, i.e., that continued support for the Liberals is necessary---a vote for Canadian independence---whereas a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for Bush. (The corollary being that, "OK, some mistakes might have been made, but the unfettered attempt to blacken the Liberals' image is Rovian and must be fought for the sake of all things good and decent"---faces may redden at this point, perhaps not)")

It's the principle of the thing. Really.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 6, 2005 3:43 AM

Canadian politics are skewed by the absence of a conservative Francophone alternative. As long as the Liberals can count on the 60 or so Quebec seats going either to them or to the loons of the BQ, they remain in power. The Maritimes are depopulating, home only to pensioners, the inbred and the welfare recipient so the NDP is showing increasing strength there.

The Conservatives in the West are in fact conservative. But they feel a need to appear more wimpy so they can appeal to the squishy center of the world's squishiest nation. If they jettisoned the Joe Clarks of the world and simply strenghtened their core in rural Ontario and the West they might have a shot.

Posted by: bart at April 6, 2005 7:02 AM