Listening to Peter MacKay

Some utterances worth noting


Pursued in succession by Claude Bachand, Bob Rae and Jack Harris on the matter of Afghan detainees, Defence Minister Peter MacKay was made to stand six times in QP yesterday, responding with his usual mix of assurance and impatience. Three of those answers constitute a particular, and particularly remarkable, series. Those answers were as follows, reprinted here with emphasis added as necessary.

First, in response to Mr. Bachand.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard a number of witnesses now and we have heard a great deal of testimony. However, we have also heard from an individual who is a former director of international security at the Department of Foreign Affairs and is now a respected professor at Queen’s University, Paul Chapin. He wrote a very interesting article. I am just going to quote from it. It says: “Regrettably for the inquisitors, no evidence has yet been uncovered: no mutilated bodies, maimed survivors, photographs, first-hand accounts, or authoritative reports documenting specific cases with names, dates and places. Not a single individual appearing before the committee has yet provided any such evidence, beginning with the first one.” That is what he had to say.

Then, to Mr. Rae.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we have heard from a number of witnesses and what we know is that we have now in place a much more rigorous process of monitoring, a much more vigorous process of investing in the prison system and working with the Afghans. We never said it is perfect, but it is getting a lot better. We have improved upon the system. We have improved upon the failed arrangement that was in place under the previous government. We have made things better in Afghanistan: the human rights situation, its agriculture, immunizing children, improving education. This is a tremendous effort on the part of our country, particularly the men and women of the armed forces.

And finally, to Mr. Harris.

Mr. Speaker, again, what I have here in my hand is an article called “End the Inquisition”. It comes from a respected former member of the Department of Foreign Affairs. It outlines all of the myths, many of which members of the opposition have partaken in over the past number of months. One of the more telling passages from this article says: “In contrast, the committee has heard many hours of testimony from military commanders, ambassadors, and senior officials refuting allegations Canada delivered detainees over for torture.” We can play the partisan game here all day. These are people who know. These are people who have been involved and are listening.

The article to which Mr. MacKay refers is this one. It is, indeed, credited to Paul Chapin. There is much one might say about what Mr. Chapin has written there, but first one must deal with what is not acknowledged: namely Mr. Chapin’s direct involvement in this particular matter of debate.

As Mr. Chapin told our John Geddes last November, he was involved in creation of the 2005 detainee transfer agreement. In fact, Mr. Chapin is “happy to take ownership” of that agreement. And, indeed, that is the same agreement that Mr. MacKay considers a “failed agreement.” The failed agreement that is the very basis for this entire discussion. The failed agreement that, in its failings, has put us in our present situation.

Now, one might wonder whether Mr. MacKay understands that the source he is citing as a “respected” authority on this matter takes “ownership” of the agreement that Mr. MacKay now laments. One could, for instance, posit that the Defence Minister is simply unaware of the connection, that no one on his staff has bothered to point it out (it’s not like the papers that published Mr. Chapin’s essay bothered to note the fact).

But then the NDP’s Paul  Dewar reported the connection to the House in December. And when Mr. Dewar was through with his remarks, Mr. MacKay stood next and said he had “listened intently to the words of the member opposite.”

So perhaps, in the months since, with all that has transpired and all that has been said on all sides, Mr. MacKay has simply forgotten.


Listening to Peter MacKay

  1. "Listening to Peter MacKay"

    That's your first mistake right there. Another of Harper's useful idiots.

  2. I remember Chapin popping up back on Power and Politics around then too – and frankly – he was about as unconvincing as a Karl Heinz Schreiber!
    Sleazier in fact – at least Schreiber presented some facts – Chapin tried to nuance definitions – much as he does here!
    If you intend to hide behind Mr. Chapin – Minister MacKay – I suggest you get a very large flak jacket!

  3. "Not a single individual appearing before the committee has yet provided any such evidence, beginning with the first one."

    And that is the bottom line.

    • The bottom line is actually the Geneva Convention. And you don't even need evidence for that. Just a reasonable expectation that a person would be tortured if you handed them over

      • Hmm, good point. So how long a prison sentence do you think would be appropriate for Jack Layton and Jean Chretien, who both supported the invasion in the house back in 2001 and are ultimately responsible for us being there?

        Stephen Harper, who thankfully announced a 2011 pullout to the Liberal occupation quagmire in Afghanistan, wasn't even an elected MP in 2001 when the Chretien government invaded Afghanistan with the blessing of the New Democratic Party of Canada, so we can't very well blame him.

        • Layton and Chretien? Nothing. They didn't come up with the agreement, they didn't exercise it. Being there isn't the problem.

          The problem lies with those who developed the agreement and kept in place while being told there was a good chance detainees that we transferred were being tortured. So Martin, Hillier, MacKay, Chapin, & Harper for starters.

          • Mr. Graham, former interim liberal leader & liberal defense minister when Canada was sent into afghanistan, has admitted recently in the news that the detainee arrangement was flawed from the start & praised the present gov't for having the wisdom to amend it.

            So Graham is publicly admitting that it was liberals who put the 'flawed agreement' into place, therefore the problem lies with the liberals.

          • I'm not suggesting that it doesn't lie there. But it doesn't stop there either. Unless Harper and MacKay have damn good reasons why they didn't work to change it as soon as they knew about it.. and from what we're hearing that would have been as soon as they were elected.. then they are also culpable.

            And thanks. Graham was one I missed. At least he had the cojones to admit it.

          • OK, so we agree that Chretien and Layton and Bill Graham should be indicted and tried at the Hague for war crimes.

            But what about Michaelle Jean? As commander in chief of the Canadian Forces she is ultimately responsible for any war crimes committed. It wasn't low level colonels who were executed after the Nuremburg trials, it was the highest ranking commanders, so we have precedent.

          • It was the highest ranking commanders who had involvement. I don't think the GG had any real involvement with this affair other than being the titular head of our armed forces, and if you're going there, you might as well continue on up the chain to the Queen and God.

            However.. if you've got some sort of substantive evidence that she knew what was going on and let it go on anyway, then by all means bring that forward. For me the bottom line is that any Canadian that enabled and condoned probable torture.. of anybody.. should have to defend themselves against War Crimes charges.

        • You're correct. We can only blame him for trying to subvert the supremacy of Parliament.

  4. Lawyers will tell you that there are different shades of truth.
    While I may not buy into that argument, I do get the impression that Peter MacKay can be a pretty shady character at times.

  5. You can stop the beating now. The horse is dead. You'll be directed to the next one shortly.

  6. Spin meister McKay is at it again…

  7. nice work Mr. Wherry.

  8. Thanks for that Aaron. It is just amazing to me how you can clearly lay it out, painstakingly show the connection of every dot so there is no mistaking it, and Conservative supporters still argue against it. Telling, though, that they had nothing to rebut the substance of your post.

    • That is because Aaron and his minions have accused, tried, convicted and executed everyone that they see fit in their modern day Spanish Inquisition. No sense beating your head against the brick wall.

  9. .. one might wonder whether Mr. MacKay understands ..

    He doesn't.

    Like so many of his colleagues, he reads talking points and he writes talking points.

  10. How come there's no mention of Bill Graham's testimony? If it had been a former Conservative Minister of Defense who said what Mr. Graham said, there would be articles after articles on him breaking the Geneve Convention, he should be sent to the Hague, etc., etc.

    But since he is Liberal… absolute silence.

    Double standard, anybody?

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