Former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci will review all relevant documents relating to the Afghan detainee scandal back to 2001, when the mission began, according to the terms of reference of his review.
A senior government official said Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is to release the mandate for Mr. Iacobucci Saturday. The opposition has been demanding to see the terms of reference for the review since the retired justice was appointed last week.
The judge is to begin his review immediately. It will "not be long term," the government official said. No deadline has been specified.
Under his review, Mr. Iacobucci will look at the documents that MPs demanded to see last year, after the House passed a motion that the government release the relevant documents.
Many of these documents have been heavily redacted; the opposition has argued it needs to see the information to do its job properly. He will also look back as far as 2001, when the mission began under the Chrétien Liberals.
The government official said they want to make sure that MPs have access to the relevant information, but at the same time strike a balance so that the national security and defence of the country is protected.
Update The Justice Department press release is available here:
The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today released the Terms of Reference for the appointment of the Honourable Frank Iacobucci, Q.C., LL.D., as an Independent Adviser. Mr. Iacobucci will conduct an independent review of documents related to the transfer of detainees by the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.
""As I stated in the House of Commons, the government acknowledges that it is appropriate that decisions on the disclosure of information in these circumstances be reviewed in an independent manner,"" stated Minister Nicholson. ""This will ensure that parliamentarians will have access to the relevant government information on the arrangements for the transfer of detainees in Afghanistan while ensuring there is no injury to Canada's national defence, international relations or national security.""
On December 10, 2009, the House of Commons passed a motion seeking access to documents that contain information that would potentially be injurious to Canada's international relations, national defence or national security if released. Mr. Iacobucci will review the protected information included in those documents as well as all other relevant documents, including those from the period 2001 to 2005, so that parliamentarians have a fuller understanding of the transfer arrangements.
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. He will prepare a report on his methodology and general findings for public release.
""As an independent and impartial adviser with significant expertise and experience in this area, Mr. Iacobucci will provide our Government with valuable advice for fulfilling our responsibilities to parliamentarians, Canadians and the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan,"" added Minister Nicholson.