Thursday, May 10, 2007

To The Gallows

When I first heard of the RCMP arresting a public servant, because of leaked Green Plan documents, my immediate thought was that the Conservatives pushed hard. Apparently, others agree:
"Tories defend arrest in leak case"

"The government has been highly criticized for its environmental policies and instead of strengthening them, it has gone on a witch-hunt," said Andrew Dumbrille, a spokesman for Climate Action Network, a coalition of environmental groups.

Patty Ducharme, national executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said the official's arrest was the first time she had ever heard of a public servant in Canada being escorted out of the workplace in handcuffs.

"It's a scary thing to stand up to government as a government employee and we all know that sometimes the government is wrong," Ms. Ducharme said. "I would say that it's definitely an attempt by the Conservative government to scare its employees, to scare them into submission."

However, NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen called the arrest a "disturbing new tactic in the Conservatives' arsenal in fighting against a clean environment." He accused the government of arresting a whistleblower with "the audacity to tell the Canadian people the truth about the policy that is disastrous for this country."

To have officers publicly arrest the man, put him in handcuffs, was clearly a show of intimidation. John Baird offers this pathetic rationale:
"I don't think that there's any suggestion that this was involving a whistleblower, if someone on an unauthorized basis leaked some sensitive information anonymously," Mr. Baird told reporters.

"Sensitive" information? Was this an issue of national security? The only way to interject the word sensitive is in describing the Tory posture when it comes to message control. These aren't military secrets, and while you can understand the desire to stop leaks, this case hardly rises to the level of anything particularly serious. What is really troublesome, the incompetence of a department that accidentially faxes copies of the regulations early to the Liberal Party.

The Conservatives are sending a message alright- we are paranoid and heavy handed. In my mind, the only arrest that should be made as it relates to the Green Plan, John Baird for fraud :)

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is so over-the-top - for photo-op and look how tough we are - I wonder, are we seeing the beginnings of a police state?

Appears so.

Anonymous said...

The RCMP don't have more important issues to deal with?

Is this guy a security risk, mobster, treasonist?

I can't believe I'm seeing this in Canada.

Oh, so we're taking a 'communist' view of how to handle Canadian citizens?

Anonymous said...

I thought we elected Conservatives not Republicans.

Anonymous said...

If the leaked document had contained a section that would have allowed investors to either buy or sell certain stocks (i.e. heavy tariffs on polluters, etc.) Liberals would have been screaming that investors were making money illegally and there should be a public inquiry.

And don't forget, each employee signed a confidentiality agreement. It's a contract. Or do Liberals now believe that contracts are not worth the paper they're written on?

knb said...

anon @1027, "if's" don't mean a thing in arguments such as this. The point is, that wasn't the case.

Their plan A was panned, and plan B was not much better. Embarrased by this, the conservatives did what they do best, "play the tough guy".

What they should have done is listen to the experts on the deficiencies of their plan and moved forward. Instead, they deflect, distract and flex their muscle.

btw, to all anon's, it's not difficult to sign into blogger with a pseudonym. It's tough to respond to anonymous comments when there are so many.

Jay said...

After seeing what was in the green plan/clean air act/joke I don't see how this person could be arrested for leaking sensitive information. The only thing sensitive over this is Baird. The act was a sham and this guy blew the whistle on the scam being paraded out for Canadians.

This is nothing more than an intimidation tactic directed at civil servants and environmentalists. Nothing more or less.

sassy said...

This is so over-the-top - for photo-op and look how tough we are - I wonder, are we seeing the beginnings of a police state?

It would seem so.

It would appear so. What will it take to wake Canadian’s up?

”The safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts”

C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)

Many will argue that this recent arrest in anything but “gentle, soft underfoot, without turnings, without milestones, without signposts” and they will be right, but the destination remains the same unless we take a stand at the polls ….. enough.

JimBobby said...

Anon. 10:27 AM: "And don't forget, each employee signed a confidentiality agreement. It's a contract. Or do Liberals now believe that contracts are not worth the paper they're written on?"

You mean like when Canada signed contracts in Kyoto, Kelowna and Geneva?

By CNG's reckoning, any contract signed when a previous government was in power is meaningless. If that civil servan has been working for Canada since before 2006, his contract is as binding as Kyoto.

JB

Just wondering said...

I can't seem to find many facts in this case. Has the person been charged? Also, is it normal for someone to be handcuffed and hauled off to jail without being charged?

Steve V said...

"You mean like when Canada signed contracts in Kyoto, Kelowna and Geneva?"

JB, cutting through the haze as always :)

knb said...

just wondering...no he was not charged and has been released.

JB - well said!

Steve V said...

knb

The RCMP first erred, when they said he violated the rules around "legislation", and later corrected to "regulations". I thought that minor clarification funny, given that the Tories have to circumvent parliament to get this sham to pasture.

Ti-Guy said...

Yes, it was reported in the G&M that the civil servant was released without being charged.

I think Canadians need a refresher on what our Charter rights are regarding detention.

knb said...

Steve, I hadn't noticed that, but obviously someone in gov't corrected them. Some cozy little relationship there I'd say.

Steve V said...

"Yes, it was reported in the G&M that the civil servant was released without being charged."

Which speaks to an attempt to intimidate, rather than legitimate breach.

knb

It was corrected QUICKLY, which tells me that the government was well aware of the timing, as well direct line of communication.

Jason Hickman said...

Any particular reason why you chose to omit this quote from the very story you linked to, rather than address it head-on?

In the Commons, Liberal leader Stephane Dion defended the government, arguing that civil servants have a duty to protect confidential information.

Steve V said...

jason

Let the record show, a Blogging Tory has used a Dion reference to justify government action.

burlivespipe said...

Hmm, pretty severe tactics taken by the gov't, but perhaps they had just cause... Unfortunately, their 'just cause' would seem to fly in the face of what they were saying following the 'accidental leak'...


In the Globe & Mail, Apr. 25--
'Moments after the Liberal press conference, Mr. Baird's office played down the leak.

Mr. Van Soelen said the speech simply sets up Thursday's announcement and does not contain details that could affect the market.

"After the markets closed, a speech was mistakenly faxed to the Liberal Party. This draft speech, dated April 25, was always going to be a prepositioning speech for Thursday's announcement. It contains no specific details of the regulatory framework which would impact markets," he said. "We will be releasing our full plan [tomorrow] as scheduled."

Mr. Van Soelen said the second fax warning Mr. McGuinty not to leak the speech was simply a precaution.

"When we realized the content of the speech sent, we realized it wasn't a big deal," he said. "I'm sure the Liberals got all excited when they read it, because they would have loved to have once written a speech this strong."'


How funny and ironic this CON crew is! We know had this occurred under the Grit watch, there'd be cries of 'censorship' and 'police state' and talk about 'needing to protect the whistleblowers.'
If you check your Republikan Power Handbook, chapter seven, is reference to this situation:
-A whistleblower is someone who reports information on corruption or a bad program/minister/agenda by members of another party.
-A wrongdoer, someone who reports information on corruption or a bad program/minister/agenda by our party.

Hmm, this follows along the themes of CON/RePublikan talking points of Human rights/Geneva convention for Prisoners of War, not for terrorists; opposition to gov't=supporting the taliban; accountability is for criminals, not us; access to information is for special people; politics is for 'rich'; streamlining pesticides to US standards.
After a CON majority, you will recognize Canada as being the 51st State of the Union.

Steve V said...

burl

Interesting context isn't it?

Anonymous said...

In the Commons, Liberal leader Stephane Dion defended the government, arguing that civil servants have a duty to protect confidential information.

People like Dion are dangerous and we are well on our way to a police state.

janfromthebruce said...

Day needed to jump into his wetsuit and stand up for Canada here. He must have missed the photo-op.

Jason Hickman said...

Let the record show you didn't answer my question :)

Mark Dowling said...

Arrest? Hell yeah.

Perpwalk? F*ck no. Idiots.

Steve V said...

"Let the record show you didn't answer my question :)"

And you never really commented on the action did you? Besides the distraction attempt, using a dirty Liberal, I think Dion's support is easily understood. Given the sad Liberal history of leaks, and that particularly sensitivity, I take Dion's comments as a kneejerk defence of confidentiality. What else can he really say?

Any other references to Dion? How about his commentary on the Sham Plan? Detainees? O'Connor? Income Trust? Thought so.

Jason Hickman said...

I don't think Dion's "dirty" - just misguided on some issues, including many of those you mentioned. Hey, don't get cranky with me - you're the one who did some selective editing with the article to begin with.

Steve V said...

"Hey, don't get cranky with me - you're the one who did some selective editing with the article to begin with."

Oh please with the selective editing, it's irrelevant to the government intent here.

Gayle said...

Was Dion agreeing to the investigation or to the arrest?

I have no issue with the investigation (which, it appears, did not result in criminal charges), however the arrest was unnecessary and excessive.

The Criminal Code does not mandate that someone be arrested. In particular, it is unusual to arrest someone when that person who is suspected of a non-violent offence. I believe the ordinary practice would be to ask that person to come to the police station for an interview. Should that request be denied that person could be arrested if the police have grounds to believe he has committed an offence.

The handcuffs were also likely unnecessary and could possibly be seen as excessive force, unless there was some concern he was going to run away.

As it turns out, this employee may be in a position to sue his employer and the police for actions that were clearly intended to intimidate and slander him.

Gayle said...

For those who may not be aware, there is a difference between arresting someone and charging someone. The police do not need to arrest someone in order to charge them. Nor do they need to arrest someone in order to question them.

Jason Hickman said...

Steve:

Oh please with the selective editing, it's irrelevant to the government intent here.

Neither was the NDP's commentary in the paper ... but that made it in your post, but your leader's comments didn't. That's all. Presumably what Dion is approving was the calling in of the RCMP under these circumstances by the government (in this case, the Dept. Minister).

Gayle's right - there is a significant difference between being arrested (or detained) & being charged with an offence. Legally, within certain limits, there are times when it's quite Constitutional to do one & not the other. Where I think Gayle may be offbase a bit is the notion that the employer could be liable for the way in which this guy was arrested / detained.

In other words, if I call the cops, and have even a somewhat reasonable reason for doing so, and the cops decide to arrest you, handcuff you, etc., I don't think I can be sued for asking the police to investigate something / someone, though I could be mistaken in that regard.

On the other hand, if the cops go too far in how they arrest you, that's a different story.

The fault for the manner in which this employee was taken out in cuffs - assuming there was a fault - is presumably with the arresting officers and their immediate superiors, unless someone can show me some evidence that the Mounties (a) were directed to haul this guy out in cuffs by the politico's, and (b) obeyed that direction.

mecheng said...

If nothing else, it would be simple to fire the source of the leak, with cause, if he were arrested, charged, and convicted.

And I don't know about most of the people commenting on this site, but if I leaked company confidential information, prior to it's release, my ass would be fired on the spot.

It is not up to the employee to decide what information can be safely leaked, and what would cause problems with the markets. The government is sending a good message here. How would you like your personal tax information leaked to the public?

If I leak information, it has to be worth losing my job over, or to expose illegal activity.

Gayle said...

mecheng - I agree to a point, but I think sometimes our governments forget that government employees actually work for the taxpayers, and not the party in power.

No charges were laid - that could be because no wrongdoing was found, or there was no evidence the person arrested is the person who leaked the information.

Jason - let me be clear. I very strongly believe the conservative government had everything to do with the fact this person was arrested. As I said in my previous post, arresting someone for this type of offence is not the norm. It is not hard to make the leap to political influence, particularly in light of Baird's comments.

mecheng said...

I have to disagree to an extent. It is a civil servants job to do what the government in power asks them to do, without (publically) questioning it or trying to undermine the governments position. The government needs to answer to the taxpayer.

If you can't leave your political preferences and agendas at home, you shouldn't be a civil servant.

I'm sorry, but you can't air your employers dirty laundry without expecting consequences.

It's an entirely different matter if the government is doing something illegal. But these were working documents being leaked.

How is a government supposed to accomplish anything if they can't trust the people working for them? Should the entire civil service be "swept clean" each time there is a change in government? I don't think so.

And I would support a Liberal or NDP government that acted in the same manner.

I'm a mechanical engineer. I have a legal obligation to protect public safety. That does not mean that when I see a client making a decision that I feel has the potential for harm to the public, or is against the law, that I run to the media and tell them about the big bad corporation just trying to make money.

I work with the client internally to resolve the issue. It happens quite often, and that's how it should be.

sassy said...

For those who have not seen this yet .....

Accused leaker says government on 'witch hunt'
Updated Thu. May. 10 2007 4:58 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

An Environment Canada staffer accused of leaking information about the Conservative government's climate change legislation says he was the target of a "witch hunt."


The staffer, Jeff Monaghan, was arrested for the leak but not charged with any crime.


"We deserve real action, not cynically calculated PR campaigns and witch hunts on public servants," he told reporters Thursday.


Monaghan did not confess, or deny, to leaking the document during the press conference. He is a former temporary worker at Environment Canada, who was responsible for monitoring news reports about the government.


According to The Canadian Press, he is also a member of an anarchist collective that runs a bookstore in Ottawa, and plays drums in a punk band called the Suicide Pilots.


While Monaghan said that public servants have performed professionally and outside of partisan politics, he also took the opportunity to criticize the government's climate change plan.


The staffer compared the government's actions against him for allegedly leaking the document to its decision to move away from Canada's Kyoto commitments.


He said the government, "specifically ... the Department of the Environment," has undermined its legal obligations.


"The most glaring example of this is our commitment under domestic and international law of the Kyoto Accord. The leak under investigation is the first explicit document of the government of Canada that states clearly that it has no intention to follow its legal responsibilities," he said.


"Worse yet, that document cynically reframes our country's legal commitments within a 2006 evaluation framework, which is essentially abandoning the international 1990 standard."


Details of the arrest


RCMP officers arrested Monaghan early Wednesday morning.


In an initial statement, the Mounties said he was arrested on an allegation of breach of trust under the Criminal Code for leaking secret draft legislation.


But the RCMP later clarified their statement, saying the leak involved a "regulatory framework," and not actual legislation.


The RCMP Commercial Crime Section received a complaint from Environment Canada's security department on April 17 that a secret draft copy of "Climate Change Section of the Eco-Action Plan" had been released publicly.


The complaint came from the department's deputy minister Michael Horgan, according to Environment Canada spokesperson Lynn Brunette.


"We take information security really seriously and he wanted to make sure that we would investigate the leak,'' she said Wednesday.


The Canadian Press filed a story on April 17 about the leaked climate change plan. The story quoted from the federal draft, marked secret and dated April 13.


The draft showed the Conservatives planned to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 to 65 per cent from 2006 levels by 2050.


The leaker was clearly unsatisfied with the plan, and wrote to environmentalists: "Your source objects strongly to the secrecy of the Harper government, its continuous PR campaign and the abandonment of international standards for (greenhouse gas) reductions."


Environmentalists have also said that the plan doesn't go far enough.


An earlier Tory plan used 2003 as a base year, which would have been a slightly harder target than the one in the leaked plan.


The Kyoto Protocol, the global treaty for fighting climate change, uses 1990 as a base year. Canada agreed to cut its emissions by six per cent below that level by 2012.


Under the Conservative plan, that target won't be reached until 2025.


With files from The Canadian Press

knb said...

Boy, this is getting sticky and complicated.

On the one hand, I do believe that governments have the right to expect that civil servants will support them and do their work.

What do you do then when there is deception involved though? It's clear that this climate plan is about deceiving the public at large, (has anyone heard the radio ads?).

I don't know the answers and I'm having trouble following the bouncing ball here.

The Deputy Minister Horgan was concerned and maybe rightly so. He asked for an investigation and as Steve and Sassy point out, the accusation went from "leak of legislation" to "leak of regulatory...", big difference there.

Which begs the question, what was the original accusation, why did the RCMP quickly change the terminology and what caused that to happen?

For the record, on the org. chart, Horgan is two removed from Baird. I imagine Horgan is a loyal public servant and I am casting no aspersions. What the org chart suggests though, is that Baird would have quick and easy access to Horgan's work.

Baird's comment is telling though and it is clear to me that the government was intent on sending a message.

One thing is sure, this young Monaghan is going to be dragged through the mud. It also seems clear to me, that our suspicion of secrecy, suppression and dishonesty on the government's part are not just rumours.

Whichever way you cut it, this was over the top and meant to intimidate. Are we further ahead as a country through this action? I think not.

ottlib said...

Oy vey!

My only hope is the little bugger is revealed to be a Dipper or a Green and not a Liberal.

He is one of them. You just have to listen to his statements today to see he is a partisan of one of the opposition parties.

If he turns out to be Liberal it will not take Conservatives long to begin their conspiracy theories and that will resonate enough to blunt any advantage the Liberals might receive from the Conservative troubles on global warming.

Or at the very least it could create a distraction for the Liberals when they should be focusing on taking advantage of Conservative troubles.

Gayle said...

ottlib - you may be correct, but Dion came out in support of this action today, before he or anyone else learned of this individual's political leanings.

The conservatives will still scream about conspiracy, but at least Dion will have mitigated the damage somewhat.

knb said...

ottlib, Gayle, I hear you both, but I think we have to look deeper. This kid may be a renegade, (I'd ask why after 4 years?), but it's also interesting to note that no conservative would speak to this issue tonight, (save that buffoon Reynolds).

Gayle, I agree, Dion only stated what he of course would expect of the public service were he in office. He mitigated any damage.

Frank Frink said...

Mecheng,

The bureaucrats don't work for the government, they work in conjunction with the government.

And they both (the government and the burueacrats) work for us, the taxpayer.

This part isn't to Mecheng specifically, just some other thoughts:
As far as this having been 'sensitive' information and possibly having anything to do with breaches of security, national or otherwise? Hmmmm. If it was so sensitive (and secret and involving national security) why would it be accessible to a contract temp whose job was to monitor news reports about the government? Hmmm.. yep, sounds like the type of job where he gets to see 'Top Secret Documents' on an hourly basis.

As far as disproptiante response by the RCMP. Yes, absolutely. The big handcuffs, perpwalk, dog & pony show because he's only a contract temp and not a union member. Imagine the raging s***tstorm if they did handcuff a CAPE member in that manner.

Contrast the reaction in this one with what happened in 1989. Ancient history I know...
From this link:
http://www.carleton.ca/Capital_News/19021999/quirks_03.htm

"Global Television reporter Doug Small presents a pamphlet called "Budget In Brief" on-camera the night before the Tory federal budget is to be released.

Finance minister Michael Wilson calls a press conference a few hours later, and releases the budget then.

Small is charged with possession of stolen property, but the charge is dropped, and hailed as a victory for journalists.

There is a second leak involving employees of Mutual Life Assurance Company. Mutual agent George McFarlane shares budget information with his co-workers after receiving it from an acquaintance of his son's.

Charges of theft and possession against McFarlane and paper recycler Normand Belisle are dropped, but former federal employee Brian McCuaig is fined $500.

RCMP Commissioner Norman Inkster is cleared of wrongdoing in an inquiry, after Staff Sgt. Richard Jordan testifies in court that the charges against Small were politically motivated.

The Globe and Mail, Ottawa's CJOH-TV and the Ottawa Citizen report being offered budget information prior to its announcement."

And I don't recall any dog & pony show arrests with handcuffs etc.. occuring during that scandal, and leaking budget information is far more serious than some pseudo-regulatory policy that will likely never be enacted.

And didn't the RCMP learn anything from the 1989 episode? (Charges politically motivated anyone?)

I love the RCMP dearly from a historical and iconic perspective but, geez Louise, how have we let them become so paralyzingly dysfunctional and incompetent? Almost like our current (new-ish) government.

Gayle said...

knb - are you talking about Duffy? (which has yet to air in my part of the world - oh the western alienation! :)).

If I were the conservatives I would not talk about this either - just makes them look like bullies and it highlights the criticisms of their so-called green plan, yet again.

Frank Frink said...

Ottlib,

I don't think the kid is a Liberal. He's reported to be involved with an 'Anarchist' bookstore in Ottawa. Seems to be further left than a Dipper let alone a Liberal.

Frank Frink said...

Ooops, sorry.

the Carleton.ca / Capital News link didn't take completely.

Try this
http://preview.tinyurl.com/2uvos9

knb said...

Yes Gayle, I did not catch all of it, but saw Reynolds suggest that the RCMP took this upon themselves and were not provoked. Huh? Someone had to bring it to their attention, unless they have nothing better to do than "watch" the public servants.

You're not alienated my friend, it's simply a function of the sun and you have all of us supporting you and your voice, :).

knb said...

frank fink...well said, imo.

Josh Gould said...

The only "crime" this guy committed was embarrassing the government via the leak. That's it, and I fully expect a lawsuit to be forthcoming.

These are grounds for dismissal, I suppose, but that's it. There is no criminal wrong-doing, no harm to national "security", and, it would seem, not even enough for a criminal charge.

Anonymous said...

It's about time civil servants who have their own agendas are held accountable. If any don't like what the government is doing they should quit their jobs, get elected, and then change government policy. He should get the maximum penalty for his actions since Canada would become a banana republice overnight if all civil 'servants' acted like him.

dalestreet said...

I probably don't know enough about this issue but I'll comment anyways. Sounds to me like this guy is a whistle-blower. The government is releasing regulations (not legislation) that will contravene the nation's legal obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. They're intent is to break the law by breaking a contract. He's letting everyone know. Really, how is this different than the whistle-blower who acted during Adscam?