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The detained documents


 

For 36 hours or so last month there was some interest in the review of documents related to the detention and transfer of detainees in Afghanistan. In short, the judges responsible for determining—after investigation by the MPs on the review committee—what could be publicly released decided nothing would be released while Parliament was dissolved. The Conservative side said it supported the release of documents and Michael Ignatieff called for something to be done to make that possible, but apparently nothing ever came of it.

On that note, I queried the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday. Those questions and a spokesman’s answers were as follows.

Q: Does the committee [charged with reviewing Afghan detainee documents] still exist?
A: The Panel lost its status when the election was triggered by the opposition.

Q: Does it need to be reformed when Parliament reconvenes? If so, will the Prime Minister recommit to the initiative?
A: The memorandum of understanding provides that the process can be reinstated when Parliament reconvenes.

Q: Will the judges’ report be released? If so, when?
A: During the campaign, we indicated our support for releasing the report. We still support this release.

Finding the answer to my second question to be vague, I followed-up—and they responded—as so.

Q: The memorandum of understanding provides for the process to be reinstated if “the leaders of the governing party and each opposition party with recognized status … sign a Memorandum in the same terms in the next Parliament.” Is the Prime Minister ready and willing to sign on as so? Further, is it the government’s position that all recognized parties in the House have to sign on or could the process be restarted with, for instance, the agreements of the Conservative and Liberal parties?
A: Given the changes to the composition of the House, these are discussions that are best held after the House resumes sitting. And I reiterate that we support the judges’ report being released.


 

The detained documents

  1. Short version: The docs won't see the light of day until the ICC comes after us for war crimes.

    • Fearless prediction: The ICC will never, ever come after Canada for war crimes, because that would be absurd. Our hands are cleaner than most. We're not perfect, but we're pretty damn good.

        • Poppycock and balderdash. It's not going to happen.

          • If we don't do it, they'll do it for us.

            Your chest-thumping notwithstanding.

          • Nope. A Canadian documentary filmmaker with a not-so-subtle agenda asked an ICC prosecutor a few leading questions. Of course he's going to reply that every country is subject to the same rules and standards. How could he not?

            The fact is there are hundreds of cases around the world right now that are more worthy of the ICC's attention. Canada is a boy scout and everyone knows this. Meanwhile, lots of other countries are committing heinous war crimes on almost a daily basis, and the ICC isn't going after them.

            There's probably a very good reason why Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo wasn't available for further comments when the Toronto Star tried to reach him. I'm sure he regrets talking to Toronto filmmaker Barry Stevens in the first place.

          • So, Canada is above the law is it?

            The law applies to everyone else…except us.?

            Actually we'd make a wonderful example.

            You can be a saint for a thousand years….commit a war crime once….and it's still a war crime.

            Saying ' But Moooom, he did it first'….is not a defence.

          • It seems as though you actually want Canada to be prosecuted by the ICC. Do you?

          • If we committed a war crime, then it must be prosecuted and punished.

            So either we do it, or the ICC will

            No country is above the law.

          • I don't think countries get charged with war crimes but rather people. I think Canada should prosecute any of their citizens that commit war crimes. It is absurd to argue that Canadians should not be tried for war crimes because Canada is such a nice country.

          • Most of those countries haven't actually signed up with the ICC.. that's the thing. We signed up with them and agreed to be bound by their legislation and rulings.

          • As of April 2011, 114 states are members of the court, including nearly all of Europe and Latin America and roughly half the countries in Africa. A further 34 countries, including Russia, have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute.

            Canada has signed up, we are therefore bound by it.

      • Possbily, but it won't be anything to cheer about.

  2. Is it so hard to say "Never"? Does anyone believe that the judges report is going to be released?

  3. The concerns of previous committees of previous parliaments aren't binding, of course, on the new parliament. It would be well within the authority of any new parliamentary committee to decide that it did not want the documents in question, or to set new terms of reference for any review of those documents.

    • Just as Bev Oda may continue to forge what documents she pleases, and Harper may still deny Canadians information about how much of their money will be spent on the fighter jets.

  4. Even if the parties cannot agree, nothing would stop the majority governing party from populating the "committee" all by itself. And nothing would stop the judges' report from being released. The PMO just said that's what they want — and I doubt they would say that without some foreknowledge about what is in the report.

    So I expect that sometime in 2011 the report will be released. And I also expect that it won't contain anything too terrible. I also expect the cries of "cover-up" will remain because not every single document will enter the public domain.

    And if there IS something terrible in there, I expect it will be released sooner rather than later, so the hand-wringing will have died down well before the next election. I just hope nothing too terrible makes it out until our soldiers are, for the most part, home.

    • The whole process was a sham, and a pitiful capitulation on the part of Parliament. The House of Commons apparently works for the executive.

      • Take that complaint to retired Speaker Milliken, who made up parliamentary procedure on the fly in order to avoid the uncomfortable consequences of having found that a prima facie case was made on the original point of privilege.

        • Nonsense. Milliken's ruling didn't required the opposition to negotiate anything with Harper in order to recieve the documents.

          • That's exactly what he required of them, rather than proceed with a motion as prescribed in the House rules:
            In view of the grave circumstances of the current impasse, the Chair believes that the House ought to make one further effort to arrive at an interest-based solution to this thorny question.
            Accordingly, on analysing the evidence before it and the precedents, the Chair cannot but conclude that the Government`s failure to comply with the Order of December 10, 2009 constitutes prima facie a question of privilege.
            I will allow House Leaders, Ministers and party critics time to suggest some way of resolving the impasse for it seems to me we would fail the institution if no resolution can be found. However, if, in two weeks' time, the matter is still not resolved, the Chair will return to make a statement on the motion that will be allowed in the circumstances.

            –Speaker Milliken, April 27, 2010

          • You're both kinda right. Milliken did essentially create an adjournment and ask the parties to arrive at a conclusion, but technically they still didn't need to negotiate anything to get the documents. I don't expect the speaker was ready to judge the quality and content of their attempts to arrive at a process. Had the other parties come back and said "no deal, release the stuff", that almost certainly would have happened. Given what happened later, this would have been the best thing to have happened.

          • "Had the other parties come back and said "no deal, release the stuff", that almost certainly would have happened."

            You can strike the "almost" from that statement. "….prima facie a question of privilege. "
            He then allowed two weeks before a contempt motion could be introduced in the hopes that it could be avoided.

          • Two weeks is a far cry from immediately:
            If the Speaker is satisfied that the necessary conditions have been met and finds a prima facie breach ofprivilege or contempt, the decision is announced to the House. As soon as the Chair has apprised the House that a prima facie case of privilege has been found, the Member raising the matter is immediately allowed to move a motion.
            http://www.parl.gc.ca/marleaumontpetit/DocumentVi

    • If something terrible happened it needs to come out as soon as possible so that it can be dealt with, especially if its an ongoing something terrible.

  5. Waiting until most of the troops are home after July would be the right thing to do.

    ICC and Moreno-Ocampo can take a flying leap. Putting Canada with the likes of Sudan, Darfur, DRC and Libya – right.

    Paul Champ and Amnesty Internationl can also take a hike – I've never understood why B.C. Civil Liberties are even involved.

    • The ICC is the governing body on this, and schoolyard taunts won't do the slightest bit of good.

  6. One final stop at this liberal cesspool to say my final farewell to all you ner-do-well Liberals who are still supporting a losing cause. As I have said so many times on this site, Liberalism as an ideology is dead in Canada. Have fun with your next 15 years searching for a new ideology. The country will see 3 consecutive conservative majorities before the left even has a chance to form government.

    • Small, even in victory.

    • Given the situation in the world today, I expect they've only got about 6 years, max, before people really start to feel the effects of their economic policies. They won't get a third majority.

      And given their previously demonstrated ability to budget, I'd lay even money that without them having to soften things because of a minority gov't it'll happen before the next election.

    • "He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."

      -Paul Keating

    • What are you talking about? The Liberals were complicit in insuring that no documents ever saw (or will see) the light of day.

  7. Ideology? Fool. The Liberals' main problem was their lack of conviction, which is still not as toxic a thing as the Harper extremist fundamentalist ideology.

  8. None whatsoever. IT IS MY VERY POINT! What part of:

    As soon as the Chair has apprised the House that a prima facie case of privilege has been found, the Member raising the matter is immediately allowed to move a motion.

    has got you so baffled?

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