Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Maple Revolution?

The Canadian corruption scandal that you cannot learn anything about from the Canadian papers is thisclose to bringing down the Canadian government and causing new elections in late June, according to the article linked in the title. The NDP (a Liberal ally) nonetheless signed a big pork-barrel spending bill the Libs advocated because it wanted to do "something positive" with the corrupt party in power. [HT]

Remember, the Gomery Commission in Canada is investigating the corruption allegations but has a blanket publication ban on its activities unless Judge Gomery explicitly approves the dissemination of specified material (such as today's testimony, according to the Captain).

Mark Steyn notes the preposterousness of the publication bans in this piece for Canada's National Review equivalent, The Western Standard (free registration required). Here are some excerpts:

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, as they say, and that’s what the Gomery commission was supposed to be: a bright light on the murkier corners of the Liberal state. Obviously, that’s not what the Grits [Liberals] themselves saw it as: governments appoint commissions mainly for giving the appearance of letting the sunshine in. But the fact that our rulers feel the need for even a sham shaft of sunshine is itself important to the health of democracy. It’s not a good sign when an inquiry that’s supposed to let the sunshine in instead becomes most famous for pulling down the shutters and plunging the room into darkness. So, although he certainly had the legal power to impose a publication ban, Judge Gomery should not have done so. A publication ban that protects Fred Schmuck in a criminal trial of a big-time mobster is one thing; a publication ban that protects the Liberal party’s reputation in what ought to be a wide-ranging non-legalistic public investigation is quite another.

Indeed. But the fact is that any Canadian can get whatever information he needs by going to Captain's Quarters website and reading the extensive body of work Ed Morrissey has amassed on the Gomery inquiry. Funny thing is, Steyn cannot even divulge the information I just gave you in that previous sentence in his Western Standard column because it's published in Canada:

. . . anyone who wants to know what the “explosive testimony” actually says can do so by going on the Internet and visiting the American website that first revealed it. Neither I nor the Western Standard is supposed to reveal the identity of the site, and indeed finding it out for yourself is half the fun, isn’t it? [It is] [t]he nearest our generation will get to the thrilling frisson of living in Nazi-occupied Europe and listening to the BBC on shortwave in the attic. Then again, why should we have to?

* * *
You can be an Irishman with a Norwegian site administrator and a U.S. hosting service and a Tuvaluan web address but, if someone reads your post on the Gomery testimony in Winnipeg, that’s a breach of the publication ban under Canadian law. If Judge Gomery pursues the Minnesota man directly, would a U.S. court enforce any Canadian court decision? Unlikely.

Actually, the answer is no. In the US, publication is not at the point of readership (Canada) but at the point where the publication is made (Minnesota for Captain Ed). And unlike Canada, Britain and Australia, which all enforce the "publication" concept at the site of the reader, we have a First Amendment.

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