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Raitt-gate misses the point Add to ...

This young woman of 26 it just seems to me she didn't have the experience and background and focus on her job. And that says something about the people they're hiring to take on these responsible positions.

JOHN GEIGER

What do you make of Mr. Baird's - sorry, did somebody want to jump in there?

JODI WHITE

Well I was just going to say, the whole concept of ministerial accountability has been morphing and changing. Some would say not for the better but I mean it's gone over the last twenty, twenty-five years there has been acknowledgement that for instance ministers do not have to resign over an issue that happened in very junior levels of their department where they had absolutely no way to know that it was going on.

Whereas maybe forty years ago in fact that was the case. So there have been changes on - and some would say not for the better frankly - but that is why you now, rather than just resigning on the moment, make some analysis of the issue and try to figure out if it is really worthy of a resignation. And that's clearly what has happened in this case and the feeling was that yes, secret documents were left behind, this is not good obviously to have happened to anyone.

But that for a minister to resign on that basis when it was really an inept staffer, the Prime Minister made a good judgment call and I think these judgment calls have been made quite a bit in the last say fifteen years on a variety of different issues as the whole ministerial accountability has changed slightly.

DOUG McARTHUR

But there was a reason why and there is a reason why in a parliamentary system ministers are and do take responsibility for what happens. Including what happens in their departments at the junior levels. But setting that aside, this was a case of secret documents in the possession of the Minister. This isn't a long reach from what the Minister is responsible for. These were documents the Minister had, not anybody else. And the Minister simply did not take the steps necessary to ensure these documents remained confidential and secret. And you can't get much closer to the Minister than that.

So if you're not accountable for that then is there anything that you're not accountable for?

JOHN MANLEY

Well, I think before we get too excited about those documents you have to also say - well had those documents in their entirety been published which it ultimately, at least the salient points were, how would the interests of Canada be damaged? And one of the points of evaluation why we grade things as secret or top secret is the damage that would be caused by their indiscrete revelation. And I think in this case they really didn't merit being called secret. They might be confidential, it was information that was to be revealed to a Parliamentary Committee anyway. They just didn't want to reveal it before the appropriate time.

It didn't undermine the national interest in any way. It didn't put anyone's life or health at risk nor did it cost the government any money so you know I think you've got to put it in an appropriate context.

In the case of Mr. Bernier he was carrying State documents that related to Canada's international role. And could potentially have been damaging to our international reputation in that context. So it's not the same thing.

JOHN GEIGER

Well let's turn now to the case of Mr. Abdelrazik. By their actions you'd think the Harper government retained very serious security concerns about Mr. Abdelrazik. How can you explain the conduct of Canada essentially doing everything in its power to keep a Canadian out of Canada even after the court now has weighed in with a very pointed ruling with regard to this situation?

Doug, if that is the case, if there are lingering concerns about Mr. Abdelrazik does he not still deserve a right to return to Canada and should any concerns about him be dealt with here perhaps in the courts?

DOUG McARTHUR

Oh absolutely. I think it's been now well established and I think any reasonable person can see by the facts that he should be given the protection of the courts and the recognition under the constitution of his rights. And it's pretty clear from this judge's decision that CSIS was culpable in this, that the bureaucrats have been working systematically to undermine his ability to access his rights.

That the Minister himself has not afforded him due process. I mean the multiple failings of the government mean that I think you do have to be able to rely upon your courts to judge what the government's behaviour is and to take corrective action. So I think that's the right thing.

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