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April 02, 2005

Sponsorship scandal

Update: Daimnation! reports contempt of court charges are now being considered against a major Canadian newsfilter. I am going to follow Damian Penny's caution and remove any mention of the name of the blog reported to have posted materials possibly subject to the publication ban. Welcome to Canada, folks.

***

And thanks to "the internet", a publication ban on testimony to the Gomery Commission is not terribly effective. Canadian readers should be advised that republication of internet rumours may be in violation of a court order. Remember: people may read your blog and you may not be as anonymous as you imagine or might like. This blog is published in the United States but I am still keeping my head down.

It is beginning to look to me that the Liberal Party of Canada has more to worry about than remaining in power. If comprehensive, wide-ranging criminal charges are not laid soon and all the way to the top of this thing we may be looking at the collapse of the federal party for a generation. And if that happens we may be at the mercy of the fundamentalists who have taken control of the Conservative Party of Canada in which case I say with no irony, "May God help us all."

Please note: comments are closed on this post and I will delete any comments that make reference to rumoured details potentially in violation of the publication ban (Update: comments are now open to discuss legal issues in relation to the publication ban). I know this will sound hinky to my American readers but the order is in place to protect the right to a fair trial of people who might otherwise not have testified. It is "truth, justice and the American Way" south of the border. Our version is "peace, order and good government" which mostly works excepting that last part.

Small Dead Animals has more here, here and here.

Update: It is an education watching how different blogs are addressing the issue of the publication ban (linked above). Some folks are offering rhyming couplets to lead people to American blogs, others are linking to links to American blogs and some are linking to specific American blogs directly. Some are not linking to anything but discussing details of what they have read (surely that is a violation of the publishing ban...) and at least one Canadian blogger I have seen is republishing material posted to an American blog saying the material is all rumour and he therefore has no way of knowing it has any relationship to testimony subject to the publication ban. Gen-X at 40 offers the following:

The interesting question is what in law is "posting". It would certainly include a posting such as this were it to include "any evidence taken, information given or submissions made at a hearing". Is an email that gets passed amongst a circle of friends "publication to the public"? Does it also include second-hand speculation? Is it commenting on another post which includes either evidence or second-hand speculation? It is linking to a site which posts evidence? Is it giving a rhyme of the name of the site where a post may be found? Questions, questions, questions...

I am not a lawyer so I would appreciate thoughts on the status of linking in relation to this publication ban. I have specifically avoided publishing any rumoured details to respect the Commission's ruling but am mildly concerned at a situation where people are avoiding linking to material that may or may not be out there on the internet. This blog is published using software and storage on a server in the United States. I do not see how someone accessing a blog on an American server from, say, Singapore and following a link to it elsewhere in the States can in any way be subject to a Canadian court order. That said, if someone can offer me an explanation of how doing so might contravene the publishing ban I will consider removing the linked material.

Enlightenment, please!

Update: I do not think this was Kate's intention but she has posted a Canadian flag I could fully endorse...

Gen-X at 40 argues linking may be construed as indexing and indexing is publishing. This strikes me as a bit convoluted but he be lawyering and I do not know my rear from my elbow with this stuff. Fair warning to gratuitous linkers of material banned under Canadian court orders!

Speaking of gratuitous linkers... the definitive link round-up on developments to the sponsorship scandal is at Bound by Gravity.

Update: Winds of Change blogs the story. Silent Running warns against clicking for unCanadian values, eh?

Posted by Ghost of a flea at April 2, 2005 09:51 PM

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Comments

I linked to Instapundit linking it -- I figured that was arms-length enough for me.

Because, really, if even that is criminal, things have just gone insane and I'll spend my week in jail over the summer before heading to grad school.

Posted by: Ben [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 3, 2005 03:56 PM

I found that Ontario Court case on jusridiction. You may not be able to hide across a border as the courts are getting wise to the nature of the internets.

Posted by: Alan [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 3, 2005 07:14 PM

For Christ's sake, is this not a time for civil disobedience? You have the ruling party using censorship to cover up horrendous misdeeds.

Posted by: George Purcell [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 4, 2005 11:46 PM

Well... not quite. There appear to be Canadian blogs out there that have decided to publish close to the line or in apparent contravention of the court order. It seems to me that the ban is itself unclear and that is a big part of the problem.

A couple things to keep in mind. First, this is not a case of the ruling party censoring anything but a court order of the justice in charge of an ongoing investigation. Justice Gomery's ruling (linked above) demonstrates an attention to the needs for open discussion in the balance with the need for justice for defendents who were about to go on trial. Second, and if I understand the facts correctly, those criminal proceedings may be delayed in which case I expect the publication ban will be lifted by the end of the week. Furthermore, given the existence of the internet, it appears the ban has been largely ineffective in which case it would be lifted in any event.

Whatever horrendous misdeeds are out there - at least in so far as they may or may not be represented by testimony to the Gomery Commission - will come to like in due course. Shortly too, I expect.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 4, 2005 11:58 PM

Justice Gomery is allowing a situation in which the Canadian elite and their media lapdogs have full access to the truth while Canadian citizens do not.

And yet you stand for it and wait for your masters to allow you to speak....

Posted by: George Purcell [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 5, 2005 11:01 AM

It certainly seems it would have been wise to hold the hearings in camera rather than produce the apparent unequal access you describe. I imagine the law is going to take some time to catch up to the new reality of the internet. This should produce a more equitable arrangement in future.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 5, 2005 11:27 AM