The French news agency - Agence France Presse - reported just a few days ago that Canadian authorities now have their hands on a second video-tape of missing diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay. This video also apparently shows that their United-Nations driver, Soulmania Mounkaila, is alive and held by the same kidnappers.
In just two weeks it will be four months since the December 14th kidnapping of the three men on the outskirts of the capital of Niger, Niamey. Most of the insight and reporting on this sordid affair has come from sources well outside of Canada. Bloggers in New York and Europe...and in more official fashion from Agence France Presse.
For unfathomable reasons Canada's mainstream media has been uncharacteristically timid and silent about much of this story. Reports which have surfaced in the homeland have generally been lifted from the French news agency, or repeats of information published by enterprising Internet bloggers. It is almost shameful.
Official Ottawa, even more so than the United-Nations organization, has cloaked the entire matter under some secretive veil on the premise of limiting harm to delicate negotiations for the safe release of the diplomats and the driver. The level of secrecy in fact makes it difficult to know the extent of negotiations, delicate or otherwise. Although the amount of reporting on these kidnappings elsewhere in the world is respectful and subdued, there has been enough of it to conclude that neither negotiations, nor the well-being of the diplomats (To what degree they are well) has been harmed by foreign journalists and bloggers trying their best to uncover details of a difficult story.
Robert Fowler is both former Canadian Ambassador to the United-Nations, and former Deputy-Minister at National Defence. His travelling companion, Louis Guay, is a distinguished diplomat. I just can't imagine that if U.S. diplomats of such reputation, say Andrew Young or John Negroponte, had vanished, the American media would be towing the submissive and docile line which appears to be influencing our reportage.
It's been hardly a week since Parliament's Information Commissioner slammed the Government and the Federal bureaucracy over a near conspiracy to make this perhaps the least transparent government in decades. In tabling the report, Commissioner Robert Marleau although polite, laid a great deal of the blame at the Prime-Minister's doorstep.
With respect to knowing the truth about the disappearance of Ambassadors Fowler and Guay and their U.N. driver, it seems that Canada's national media is marching in lockstep with the messaging which is crafted at the highest levels of our national government. And:-That is a shame!