Before Justice Dennis O'Connor had even finished his final report on the Maher Arar case, officials in Paul Martin's government were meeting with their American counterparts to determine how they could make a key portion of O'Connor's recommendations irrelevant. Writing at Prism, Jeff Sallot has an article based on an American diplomatic cable that was published by Wikileaks. The cable was written by David Wilkins, then US ambassador to Canada. It describes a series of meetings held in anticipation of O'Connor's recommendations to discuss "work-arounds" to keep the information flowing from our security forces to theirs.
Sallot sought reactions to the cable from Paul Cavalluzzo (among others):
Average Canadians would "find it surprising how far their officials would go, to the American altar, bowing down and almost apologizing" to Washington that the Arar case might disrupt or restrict the steady flow of security intelligence from Canada to the U.S., about anticipated fallout from Judge O'Connor's report, Mr. Cavalluzo said. "What struck me was that a number of Canadian officials were advising the Americans on internal Canadian policy discussions."
I'm not all that surprised.
It's been evident for a while that Canadian security officials have forgotten who they work for. Nor was I all that surprised that no one in those meetings expressed any concern or remorse over the torture of Maher Arar. The recent stories about Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and his directives to CSIS have confirmed that nothing really changed following the Arar case. Toews was just formalizing continuing practices and providing cover for them to continue.
It's particularly instructive to note that one of the Canadian officials playing a key part in those meetings was Bill Elliott, who was an adviser on national security at the time. This is apparently how Elliott popped up on Stephen Harper's radar and ended up being named as commissioner of the RCMP. So while the Harper Government™ was assuring us that they were implementing the recommendations of the O'Connor inquiry they were installing an RCMP Commissioner who had already played a key role in subverting those same recommendations. That said, it's worth repeating that the meetings described in the cable took place while the Liberals were still at the helm.
The whole article is instructive and is recommended.