Friday, February 23, 2007

The Bains/Air India Story : Liberals Call for a Leak Investigation

As I noted in this post, some of us have been wondering who might have given reporter Kim Bolan the tip that Navdeep Bains' father-in-law was a potential witness in the Air India inquiry. Bolan, alledgedly posting over at The Gazetteer's blog, said she had received the information from members of the Sikh community. (Please note that we have yet to verify if Bolan actually did write that comment.)

The Liberals raised the potential leak during question period on Friday and have now called for an investigation:

OTTAWA (CP) - The Liberals demand an investigation to determine whether a government official leaked the identity of a potential witness in the Air India bombing case to a Vancouver newspaper.

They said Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office should check to see if anyone in government or law enforcement provided that confidential "security information" to the Vancouver Sun. The prime minister himself referred to the article in the House of Commons this week.
The Liberals said it was obvious that some public official - either in government or law enforcement - leaked Darshan Singh Saini's name because only they would be aware that the RCMP might want to question him.

"The newspaper story used by the prime minister this week in a disgusting drive-by smear against a member of Parliament contained assertions about alleged police proceedings of a highly secret nature," Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale said.

"They are secret to ensure the integrity of those proceedings, but yet the information, true or not, was made public.

"Why did the government deem it appropriate to publish secret security information and does that disclosure not in itself constitute breaking the law?"

Conservative House leader Peter Van Loan denied any government involvement and said the Liberals could complain to the Vancouver Sun if they have a problem with the story.

"The government did no such thing," Van Loan said.

"(Goodale) knows well that this government does not control the media in this country - anything but."

Goodale said that even if no one in government gave the Sun Saini's name and drew attention to his links with a Liberal MP, the RCMP answers to the government.

He pointed an accusatory finger at Harper's office. He noted that Harper's senior staff mass e-mailed the Sun article to journalists on Parliament Hill just after the prime minister made the comments.

"The despicable events of last Wednesday were no accident," Goodale said.

"From beginning to end this was contrived, premeditated slander. So let us go right to the source, who in the government disclosed secret security information? Was it or was it not the Prime Minister's Office?"

It's time for Bolan to speak up publicly about this, especially if she did write that comment on The Gazetteers blog and did get this information from members of the Sikh community.

h/t Dan McKenzie of The Dan Report

Update: Kim Bolan has responded to an e-mail from Ross at The Gazetteer:

In a nutshell, she said it was she who initiated the proceedings by asking an Ontario contact about the whereabouts of Mr. Saini as she does this to keep track of folks that have been involved in the Air India case, and the closely related cases of the shootings of a local newspaper publisher...
In her Email reply to me, Ms. Bolan then want on to state that it was only after she had made her initial enquiry that the source then mentioned that Mr. Saini was the father-in-law of Mr. Bains, which she didn't already know at the time and which she found interesting (and, as she stated in the original comment, 'relevant', especially after Mr. Bains confirmed it).

Now, you may want to question the motives of the 'source' in divulging that information but, now matter how you slice it, I believe that Ms. Bolan has provided us with a reasonable explanation regarding the Fifth 'W'.

I disagree and I still wonder 1) who that "Ontario source" was and 2) why she thought it was "relevant" to divulge this information which, as has been pointed out, was not supposed to be made public.

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