Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



access to information, Afghanistan, Canada, democracy, information, intelligence, leaks, Parliament, Secrecy, Torture, transparency, whistle blowing


On Monday, May 2, 2001, Canadians will vote in a federal election. It remains unclear whether the results will be significantly affected by deep concerns amongst many Canadians of authoritarian, deceitful and multifariously unethical behavior by the governing Conservative Party since becoming a minority government in 2006 (re-elected in 2008). My purpose in this article is to raise awareness of the threat to open democracy in Canada posed by the nearly pathological extent to which secrecy and manipulation of access to the truth has taken over Ottawa and Parliamentary affairs in Canada. I do this by narrating three interconnected examples of how bad things have become in Canada. The examples are unified both by the context of a broken Parliamentary system faced with a resolutely all-controlling Prime Minister and by a specific substantive concern. That concern is the question of why Canada’s government has deliberately maintained a policy of transferring detainees in Afghanistan to Afghan intelligence services (notably, the National Directorate of Security or NDS) in full knowledge of the torture practices of those agencies and thus of the risks faced by each transferred detainee.