There have been enough details of allegations of entrapment by Canadian Human Rights staff to justify an investigation. I would like to see one that is honest and effective, since I'm very leery of the "proof" put that's been put forward by various bloggers. Essentially, the conservative bloggers claim that's exactly what's been done by the Human Rights Commission to drum up "business" under Section 13(1), a provision of the Human Rights Act that should be abolished anyway as an affront to free speech rights. Human Rights Commissions have no right to be censors.
But these are very serious charges. The planting of "evidence" by government employees and the goading of people into committing crimes is outrageous, if true.
The Tories have asked the Justice Committee of the House of Commons to examine the allegations. It makes sense to have Parliament look into this. People will be able to testify without fear of libel suits and there will be plenty of media coverage.
Now, to get Press Gallery paranoid. This may be a very, very, very empty promise, a meatless bone tossed by the Harperites to the knuckle-draggers. The chances of any hearings are slim to grim.
This committee hasn't met since early April. Its members are deadlocked and simply will not get into a room together. Once they work things out -- if they do so before the next election -- they have a big backlog of work.
There's also the issue of expertise. If the committee does meet and deals with this problem, it had better find objective witnesses -- or, even better, hire staff -- who can sort through the facts and fictions of the very complicated technological evidence at the heart of these allegations. That would be a first for a Parliamentary committee, as anyone who watched the circus of the Mulroney-Schreiber hearings at the Commons ethics committee will verify.
Our committees are far weaker than those in the US Congress, which have investigators and full-time legal staff. Canadian Prime Ministers and the governing political parties have made a conscious effort to keep Canadian committees weak and stupid.
So, while these hearings, if they happen at all, may just end up being yet another fool-fest. That would be a shame. We need to know the truth.
(HT to Ezra Levant for item and the PDF)