Sunday, May 13, 2007
OTTAWA–The man arrested for allegedly leaking the Conservative government's environmental plan was a temporary employee, a self-described anarchist and drummer in a punk band that sings an angry screed against the Prime Minister and the "rise of the right."
The website for the band, the Suicide Pilots, depicts an airplane flying into the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.
Those are just a few of the details that emerged yesterday about Jeffrey Monaghan, 27, who was taken away from his Environment Canada workplace in handcuffs Wednesday morning by two RCMP officers.
He is under investigation for potential breach of trust, an offence that could land him five years in prison, but has not been charged with any crime.
Monaghan said he has been working with the federal government for the last four years, employed through a local human resources firm.
For his job at Environment Canada's offices in Gatineau, Que., he began at 5 o'clock each morning and read about 48 newspapers a day to summarize daily coverage.
He also managed the department's internal communications website.
He said that in his job he was the "lowest ranking temp employee in the department, possibly the entire government."
It is unclear how he could have come into contact with a secret draft of the document.
At a news conference yesterday, Monaghan, his voice shaky and nervous, launched into a diatribe against the Tory government's public relations strategies. He also spoke in favour of decisive and immediate action on the environment, leaving little doubt where his sympathies lie in the matter even if he is cleared of any wrongdoing.
"I have not been charged with a crime," he said.
"What I can tell you is that the proposed charges against me pose a profound threat to the public interest.
"They are without precedent in their disproportionality, they are vengeful, and they are an extension of a government-wide communications strategy pinned on secrecy, intimidation and centralization."
The police investigation is looking into who sent a copy of Environment Minister John Baird's climate change plan to some media outlets and to environmental organizations on April 16, one week before the government was to release it publicly. Environmentalists said the document was faxed to them from a machine that they were able to identify as belonging to a Staples business centre.
They also received an email version of the document from what they said was a generic Staples email address.
Along with the leaked documents was a sort of manifesto from the source of the leak, saying that it was an act of protest against the "secrecy of the Harper government, its continuous PR campaign and the abandonment of international standards for (greenhouse gas reductions)."
The source added that the action was taken out of a feeling that the need for public information outweighed the importance of "due process."
The leak is unrelated to an incident that occurred a week later when a copy of a Baird speech on parts of the environment plan was accidentally faxed to the Liberal opposition.
Yesterday, Monaghan said the leak that police are investigating is the "first explicit document" the Tories have presented to state that the government will not meet its obligations under the Kyoto accord.
He said the Conservatives were "disguising" what they were doing by using Kyoto's 1990 benchmark for emissions reductions with a much easier 2006 benchmark. Canada's emissions have risen 35 per cent between 1990 and 2005.
"That is not due process," Monaghan said.
Monaghan was joined at the Parliament Hill news conference by two people identified only as his best friend and his girlfriend. He wore black jeans, a white shirt, black tie and black canvas running shoes as he addressed the television cameras and delivered a brief statement, taking no questions on the advice of his lawyer.
Monaghan has been involved in various causes – at Carleton University he hosted a weekly radio show, and was co-organizer of an anarchist bookshop in downtown Ottawa.
The Suicide Pilots, the four-piece punk band where Monaghan is known as "Bones," sings about the rise of the right-wing and the rich in a song called "Harper Youth" that compares Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Adolf Hitler.
"Give me your fear, give me your hate, give me your intolerance and I'll give you a place in the Harper Youth," goes the song.
The Suicide Pilots also provide a link on their website to Earth First, a radical environmental group founded in 1979 that endorses a "front-line, direct action approach to protecting wilderness," according to the group's website.
"We believe in using all the tools in the tool box, ranging from grassroots organizing and involvement in the legal process to civil disobedience and monkey-wrenching."
Opposition politicians were quick to line up on the side of the young radical yesterday.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said that while he has "no sympathy at all for leaks," he was uncomfortable with the RCMP's handling of the matter.
"It looks like an attempt of intimidation and this is going very, very far, very, very far," he said. "It doesn't look good. It looks quite ugly."
RCMP Sgt. Monique Beauchamp said yesterday that while officers have "some leeway" in how they carry out an arrest, handcuffing a suspect is "standard procedure."
She added that Monaghan was "very co-operative" when he was arrested. * Alleged document leaker describes arrest as ‘witch hunt’ * <a href="http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070510/green_leak_070510/20070510?hub=TopStories"> his arrest may put a chill on civil servants wishing to speak out.
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