So here’s the story: Earlier this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper attempted to read into House of Commons record a story written by Kim Bolan of the Vancouver Sun in which Bolan noted that the father-in-law of Liberal MP Navdeep Bains may be on a list of witnesses (let’s emphasize the word witness here) the RCMP wishes to interview using special provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Under those provisions, witnesses are compelled to provide evidence to the RCMP. Normally, if the police want to ask you questions, you are entirely within your legal rights to tell them to go jump in the lake. Normally, the only time you are compelled to testify is a trial when a judge tells you to.
The Prime Minister and his spokespeople suggested that the reason the Liberals (along with the BQ and the NDP) refused to extend the sunsetting provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act past the end of this month was that the Liberals wished to protect Bains’ father-in-law from police questioning. (Again: Bains father-in-law is not a suspect; just someone the police wish to talk to.)
The Liberals were outraged at the suggestion.
Normally, these lists of RCMP witnesses are secret. So, at the end of the week, Liberal Ralph Goodale wondered aloud if the Vancouver Sun’s Bolan got the name of Bains’ father-in-law from the PMO. Here’s Goodale in a scrum outside the House of Commons Friday:
GOODALE: Well, my question was: was it or was it not? It's important to get to the bottom of this. The story in the Vancouver Sun appeared to be talking about what would be considered secret security information. That information is secret for a reason yet it's in the public domain. It needs to be examined very carefully as to how it got there. It was within the ambit of government. Suddenly it's in the public domain. It is secret security information or at least it purports to be. I think the government has that question to answer.
REPORTER: Why would the evidence be coming from the government and not say police or security officials?
GOODALE: Well, in the broadest of terms the police are obviously within the ambit of government. They report to the Solicitor General. It's all within that basket of officialdom if you will. The information was there. It appears to be anyway, at least it's purported to be, secret security information. There are some pretty strict rules governing the control of that information and yet it appears in the media. I think there's a question to be asked, a very serious question as to how that happened and it behoves I think a very sincere and conscientious response from the government, not this kind of flippant foofah that we get from them every day.
REPORTER: Sir, you pinpointed the PMO as the potential source of that information. What evidence do you have, if any?
GOODALE: I asked the question was it or was it not the Prime Minister's Office. The point is the Prime Minister's Office is the pinnacle of government. They need to get to the bottom of this.
Well, it seems that Bolan, the reporter who penned the Sun story, has Goodale’s answer. In a comment posted to the blog The Gazetter, Bolan writes:
I wrote the story and there was no leak. It was very apparent from sitting through 19 months of the Air India trial who would be the obvious choices for investigative hearings – all the names came out during the evidence at the trial. After the trial, I wrote my book on Air India, called “Loss of Faith: How the Air India Bombers Got Away With Murder” and reviewed documents related to the one Supreme Court challenge of the investigative hearing provision, launched and lost by Satnam Reyat – the wife of the only man convicted.
I have covered this story since 1985 so there are few mysteries or secrets. I first interviewed Darshan Singh Saini back in 1988. I have a copy of parts of his police statement that came out during the Air India trial. The reason I wrote the story this week is because I just learned (through Sikh community contacts, not POLICE) that Saini was the father-in-law of Bains. I did not know that until very recently. I called up Saini and Bains and they confirmed it. I thought it was relevant.
So don't always look for a political conspiracy. In this case, there isn't one .
The Gazetter also follows what I think are good instincts in trying to verify that the person who posted the comment on his/her blog is, in fact, Kim Bolan. The Gazetter appears to be satisfied that Bolan did indeed write those lines.