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Do we need Wikileaks for this?

tommy-douglas-greatest.jpg

Gawd, I hope not.

The federal government has relented in its refusal to release decades-old intelligence on Canadian political icon Tommy Douglas.

It's now promising to review the file and release additional material by March 31.

The promise follows a closed-door hearing during which a Federal Court judge expressed concern about the continued secrecy surrounding the file compiled by the RCMP on a figure of such historical significance.

Before the promise to provide additional information, the Conservative government had maintained that the release of the Douglas documents could hurt the present-day work of Canada's spy service.

Some of the materials date back more than 70 years.

Douglas, who died in 1986, is widely revered as the father of Canadian medicare. He was premier of Saskatchewan and then the first leader of the federal New Democratic Party.

He was the subject of surveillance for decades, first by the RCMP and later by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS.

Declassify everything, unredacted, or someone might have to do it for you, RCMP.

And don't give me that guff about how it's "going to hurt the present-day work" of CSIS. If so little has changed in the spy trade in over 70 years, then the spooks deserve a good kick in the butt for being so far behind the times. I strongly suspect that their methods were illegal and/or unconstitutional, if they still think there is something to hide after all this time. And if they claim this will hurt them here and now, they must still be using those bad methods.

Secrecy and closed doors conceal a multitude of sins, unacceptable in a government that was supposed to have been elected on promises of transparency and accountability. Remember?

All of which is all the more reason to declassify it all, unredacted. No exceptions. If they've truly done nothing wrong in the course of their spyings and pryings into the doings of Tommy Douglas, they should have nothing to hide.

And the government shouldn't balk at holding them accountable, either.