A pretty weaselly worded "terms of reference" for Judge Frank Iacobucci
, that looks more stalling tactic, than any genuine desire to accommodate Parliament's demands. The opposition was wise to wait and see what the government would formally offer, now that they have, I expect some serious resistance. Judging by the initial comments from the Liberals and NDP, it would appear "parliament is supreme" is back on the table.
I agree with the Amnesty International reaction, in that Iacobucci will just rehash ground already covered, nothing more than a "second opinion" under the same constraints previously argued for redaction. This paragraph outlines the murky mandate, which leaves a very subjective determination:
Mr. Iacobucci will provide recommendations to the Minister of Justice as to whether information would be injurious to Canada’s international relations, national defence or national security and whether any such information should nevertheless be released because the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in non-disclosure.
One must remember, the Red Cross is already on record rejecting public disclosure, not because allegations are unfounded, but because international protocol demands "confidentiality". This framework provides Iacobucci an easy out on the "international relations" front. Nicholson categorizes the opposition demands as "potentially injurious" and he's basically asking Iacobucci to uphold this decision. Given that arguments can be made either way, the government has already stifled concurrent attempts by other bodies, namely the MPCC, it's hard to see how Iacobucci contradicts.
Iacobucci is left with a vague interpretation, because any allegations of torture are potentially damaging to our international relations and national security. We've already heard the defence, that any release of documents could harm our troops in the field, reprisals and such, so Iacobucci is left with a flawed balancing act. Additionally, Iacobucci already has the initial resistance arguments provided by DOD and the JD, so he would have to be extraordinary in rebuking those original stances. Iacobucci is not acting in isolation, he's determining if he should override what's already been put forth, and that makes any bold re-examination unlikely. I'd add, Iacobucci has already spoke to these issues of national security and "injurious" releases in the past, showing a tendency to defer
People will note, Nicholson referenced verbatim to the language used during Iacobucci's previous posting. From his official report, you can see that Iacobucci has already established a precedent, which is INCREDIBLY similar to this investigation:
However, the responsible Minister is of the opinion that disclosure of this information would be injurious to national security, national defence, and/or international relations. If it is ultimately determined that further information can be publicly disclosed, I intend to take the necessary steps to supplement the public version of my report...
There remains certain information that bears directly on my mandate that I believe can and should be included in the public version of my report. However, the responsible Minister is of the opinion that disclosure of this information would be injurious to national security, national defence, and/or international relations.
Exact wording, and Iacobucci deferred to the government's desire, using the same justifications. I believe the above- and Nicholson's choice of VERBATIM wording confirms- Iacobucci was chosen because the government believes he is predisposed to uphold redaction, using the above rationales. There is no way Iacobucci is chosen, if the government believed he would reject their arguments to date, they don't work that way and Nicholson's lifting of past language suggests they are BANKING on similar adherence.
On the question of timing, adding in the 2001-2005 period is agreeable on an intellectual level, but clearly designed to delay any eventual release. The contempt allegations demand release of certain documents, by expanding the review, this may amount to the government's first formal attempt to cloud responsibility and/or ensure release doesn't occur until after this spring session. If I'm a betting man, Iacobucci's review will be released at the end of July, early August, when all is quiet, nobody paying attention. In this way, no matter his conclusions, the government can use Iacobucci in the fall, and hope everyone tires of this story(I note some in the media are already questioning the continual "opposition", disappointing given the stakes, but attention span has never been a modern day strength).
If I'm the NDP, I continue on with their contempt charge. If I'm the Liberals, I dust off Lee and reject this "inquiry" outright. Now that we know have some clarity on Iacobucci, it's imperative that the opposition doesn't allow a probable pre-determined exercise to distract, delay and ultimately relegate. The opposition isn't obligated to play this game.