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The documents detained


 

A few weeks after some degree of confusion on this matter was noted, the two judges reviewing documents related to the detention and transfer of detainees in Afghanistan to determine how information will be publicly disclosed have apparently decided that nothing can be released until Parliament reconvenes. The judges wrote to the Conservative, Liberal and Bloc leaders today to explain their current dilemma and that letter can be viewed here.

Mr. Ignatieff’s office has issued a statement calling on the judges’ report to be released and seeking, if necessary, an amendment to the memorandum of understanding to allow for public disclosure as soon as possible. The Conservatives have followed with a statement from Laurie Hawn, the Conservative representative on the committee, encouraging disclosure.

Full statements after the jump.

Michael Ignatieff. “The Panel of Arbiters informed us today that they have completed their work in preparation for the release of their report and an initial set of documents by April 15, 2011 or shortly afterwards, at the request of the Ad Hoc Committee of Parliamentarians which has been reviewing the documents. However, the Panel also indicates they believe that they are unable to release the report and documents tomorrow as they had intended because Parliament is not sitting.

“The Canadian people have a right to see the documents related to the transfer of Afghan detainees.  The Conservative government repeatedly refused to disclose these documents, despite an order of the House of Commons and a very clear ruling by the Speaker of the House of Commons on April 27, 2010 that found the refusal of the government to provide the documents constituted a breach of the privileges of the House of Commons.

“The Speaker’s ruling recognized that in our system of government, Parliament is supreme – not Stephen Harper.  We owe it to the brave men and women serving in our Canadian Forces and to the Canadian public to get to the bottom of this issue and only full and immediate transparency will achieve that.

“For these reasons, I call on Mr. Harper and M. Duceppe to immediately join me in calling on the Panel of Arbiters to publish the report that they were prepared to release on April 15.  If an amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding is required to satisfy the concerns of the Panel of Arbiters, then we should agree on the wording and implement the amendment no later than Monday, April 18, 2011.

“I wish to take this opportunity to thank the Panel of Arbiters for the dedication and professionalism that they have shown over the past year.  I would also like to acknowledge the sudden passing of Panel member Donald Brenner on March 12, 2011.  Justice Brenner was an eminent jurist who served Canadians – and British Columbians in particular – with great distinction and honour. His work on the Panel was just his latest service in a long line of essential judicial roles to which he was dedicated.”

Laurie Hawn. “We are aware of the letter sent by the panel of judges overseeing the release of documents regarding Taliban prisoners.  The Conservative Party fully supports and, in fact, encourages the documents to be released.”


 

The documents detained

  1. Sorry, Ignatieffans – there's no leak to force anyone's hand this time. You can wait until the election's over, then whine your hearts out about it.

  2. Sorry, Ignatieffans – there's no leak to force anyone's hand this time. You can wait until the election's over, then whine your hearts out about it.

  3. Bravo to Layton for seeing that the committee was simply a delaying tactic and not going get the documents released.

  4. Bravo to Layton for seeing that the committee was simply a delaying tactic and not going get the documents released.

  5. Between the disgraceful pressure on our AG and the disgraceful pressure on these jurists, I am desperately trying to recall all the reasons why a destroyed ballot is a cop-out. Because that option is, sadly, looking more and more appealing…

  6. Between the disgraceful pressure on our AG and the disgraceful pressure on these jurists, I am desperately trying to recall all the reasons why a destroyed ballot is a cop-out. Because that option is, sadly, looking more and more appealing…

    • I don't believe the two situations are comparable. The AG is an officer of parliament and her accountability to parliament is governed by legislation. The panel of judges are not. Their role was created by a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the leaders of the three parties.

      I happen to agree that pushing the AG to release a report in the middle of an election campaign poses a problem and may set an unfortunate precedent. But the responsibility of the panel of judges was to ensure that any specific documents that were released didn't pose a threat to national security. I think the release of the documents they've approved and the report is up the parties who originally signed the MOU and I don't see the danger of it creating any precedent we might later regret.

        • But the MOU doesn't have the force of law. It wasn't voted on by the House of Commons and the Senate and given Royal Assent. It was agreed to behind closed doors by individuals. Why can't it be amended by the same people who signed it in the first place?

          • That's fine and dandy, but the politicians are peacock-strutting without actually amending the MoU. So the jurists are the only honourable ones in the bunch.

  7. "We owe it to the brave men and women serving in our Canadian Forces"

    Sure, just what we need, lets air alledged infractions so it can be monitored by Taliban insurgents while our troops are in theater. Maybe we can try for a repeat of what just happened to to the UN workers and the Quran burning.

  8. "We owe it to the brave men and women serving in our Canadian Forces"

    Sure, just what we need, lets air alledged infractions so it can be monitored by Taliban insurgents while our troops are in theater. Maybe we can try for a repeat of what just happened to to the UN workers and the Quran burning.

    • I'm pretty sure the Taliban will fight us either way.

    • Taliban? Monitoring my theater? What's that about air? WHAT THE HELL IS AN INFRACTION?!?

      Oh god, RUN!!!

    • Sorry, Leo …. if there is anything in that mess that the Taliban didn't know about years ago,
      I'd be very, very surprised. The people who are having things done to them usually know
      about it and are quite happy to spread the word among their friends. The point of state
      secrecy is to prevent people from knowing what is being done in their name.
      Obviously, there's a place for protecting tactical operation plans … but not much else.
      The Jacks .. Harris and Layton .. were right to walk away.

  9. Ignatieff grinds on about democratic process and respect for the conventions of parliament – as long as it suits his agenda. Either he's becoming a true politician or he is so confused he can't keep it straight in his own mind. Furthermore he can't seem to remember (or hopes people don't notice) from one day to the next his contradictory statements to the hapless media twits that dote on his every pronouncement.

    witness this:
    Today april 14th
    "Canada isn't Disneyland. These are ethnic groups do not want to be treated in this way. They want to be treated as Canadians first, last, and always.”

    and this yesterday April 13th in the french debates I believe:

    “You can be a Quebecer or a Canadian in the order you prefer.”

    Where is the cycnical Wherry column on this? He's too busy pulling sarcastic columns out of his a$$ to pay attention and do his job.

  10. Ignatieff grinds on about democratic process and respect for the conventions of parliament – as long as it suits his agenda. Either he's becoming a true politician or he is so confused he can't keep it straight in his own mind. Furthermore he can't seem to remember (or hopes people don't notice) from one day to the next his contradictory statements to the hapless media twits that dote on his every pronouncement.

    witness this:
    Today april 14th
    "Canada isn%E2%80%99t Disneyland. These are ethnic groups do not want to be treated in this way. They want to be treated as Canadians first, last, and always.”

    and this yesterday April 13th in the french debates I believe:

    “You can be a Quebecer or a Canadian in the order you prefer.”

    Where is the cycnical Wherry column on this? He's too busy pulling sarcastic columns out of his a$$ to pay attention and do his job.

  11. Ignatieff grinds on about democratic process and respect for the conventions of parliament – as long as it suits his agenda. Either he's becoming a true politician or he is so confused he can't keep it straight in his own mind. Furthermore he can't seem to remember (or hopes people don't notice) from one day to the next his contradictory statements to the hapless media twits that dote on his every pronouncement.

    witness this:
    Today april 14th
    "Canada isn't Disneyland. These are ethnic groups do not want to be treated in this way. They want to be treated as Canadians first, last, and always.”

    and this yesterday April 13th in the french debates I believe:

    “You can be a Quebecer or a Canadian in the order you prefer.”

    Where is the cycnical Wherry column on this? He's too busy pulling sarcastic columns out of his a$$ to pay attention and do his job.

    • These aren't news columns….it's a blog.

      • then why do you treat everything Wherry says as fact?

        • Because he uses facts?

        • Dumbest comment award. Wherry usually just posts the statements and supporting documentation with brief introductions.

    • It's a good point. If he's willing to disrespect the authority of Parliament while he's in opposition, can you imagine what he'd do as head of a governing coalition? Scary.

    • Just be happy that, unlike CTV, MacLeans is very liberal in its log-in options, and doesn't take its marching orders from Hilary.

  12. Why are the Judges making this decision? They do not have positions in parliament. If the Cons want them released,
    then I guess we can assume this first set will be heavily redacted. Cowards.

  13. Para (11) in the MoU:
    The documents mentioned above(*) will continue to be tabled in the House of Commons as they become available.

    (*) MYL's reading of the "documents mentioned above" include those redacted documents that the ad hoc committee of MPs has determined could be released (5), or for which any member of said committee disputes the ongoing concealment (6). In which case the Panel of Arbiters rules on the "releasability" of the disputed portion(s) and then figures out how best to release the releasable information while preserving national interests (security, defence, international relations).

  14. Why are the Judges making this decision? They do not have positions in parliament. If the Cons want them released,
    then I guess we can assume this first set will be heavily redacted. Cowards.

    • Try to keep up, for God's sake.

  15. Para (11) in the MoU:
    The documents mentioned above(*) will continue to be tabled in the House of Commons as they become available.

    (*) MYL's reading of the "documents mentioned above" include those redacted documents that the ad hoc committee of MPs has determined could be released (5), or for which any member of said committee disputes the ongoing concealment (6). In which case the Panel of Arbiters rules on the "releasability" of the disputed portion(s) and then figures out how best to release the releasable information while preserving national interests (security, defence, international relations).

  16. LOL That was to be expected…however now Canadians will wonder just what was IN those documents. And after all this cover-up, and unable to be released during an election….it doesn't sound like anything good.

    Next up: the polygamy ruling will likely be 'delayed'.

  17. LOL That was to be expected…however now Canadians will wonder just what was IN those documents. And after all this cover-up, and unable to be released during an election….it doesn't sound like anything good.

    Next up: the polygamy ruling will likely be 'delayed'.

  18. These aren't news columns….it's a blog.

  19. An even better argument comes from the two surviving arbiters on the panel (rest in peace, Mr. Brenner): The MPs serving on the ad hoc committee are presently former MPs, so there is presently no ad hoc committee to which the arbiters may report. The MoU may survive dissolution, but the committee as constituted cannot.

  20. then why do you treat everything Wherry says as fact?

  21. An even better argument comes from the two surviving arbiters on the panel (rest in peace, Mr. Brenner): The MPs serving on the ad hoc committee are presently former MPs, so there is presently no ad hoc committee to which the arbiters may report. The MoU may survive dissolution, but the committee as constituted cannot.

    • "The MPs serving on the ad hoc committee are presently former MPs"

      If so, then by what mandate does Lawrence Cannon go traipsing around the globe on behalf of Canada? I thought they were incumbent until the new parliament is installed.

      • He was given permission by the former opposition MPs – that's how it works.

      • Cannon is a Minister of the Crown. Cabinet still functions, and Harper is still PM. The other folk were merely MPs.

          • There's another thread at Blog Central today that has links in the comments to the snippets that explain (if I caught the gist without clicking through all of them) that MPs get paid as if they are still MPs, but they have lost all authority as an MP. They become Trudeau's nobodies even on Parliament Hill, too.

            UPDATE: Found it! I refer you here to start with:
            http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/04/14/i-must-respect

  22. Because he uses facts?

  23. I don't believe the two situations are comparable. The AG is an officer of parliament and her accountability to parliament is governed by legislation. The panel of judges are not. Their role was created by a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the leaders of the three parties.

    I happen to agree that pushing the AG to release a report in the middle of an election campaign poses a problem and may set an unfortunate precedent. But the responsibility of the panel of judges was to ensure that any specific documents that were released didn't pose a threat to national security. I think the release of the documents they've approved and the report is up the parties who originally signed the MOU and I don't see the danger of it creating any precedent we might later regret.

  24. Harper has already betrayed the trust of Canadians with his delaying tactics. But it makes sense they could not be released if the committee is sitting. Still, the sooner we know what happened the better.

  25. Harper has already betrayed the trust of Canadians with his delaying tactics. But it makes sense they could not be released if the committee is sitting. Still, the sooner we know what happened the better.

    • Harper has already betrayed the trust of Canadians with his delaying tactics. But it makes sense they could not be released if the committee is NOT sitting. Still, the sooner we know what happened the better.

      –Mike T.

      Yes, you will be happy to know I inserted the "not" above your signature. But I am quite sure you intended for it to be there all along…

      • fair enough.

      • Now, if only Oda could have been that straightforward…

  26. "The MPs serving on the ad hoc committee are presently former MPs"

    If so, then by what mandate does Lawrence Cannon go traipsing around the globe on behalf of Canada? I thought they were incumbent until the new parliament is installed.

  27. It's a good point. If he's willing to disrespect the authority of Parliament while he's in opposition, can you imagine what he'd do as head of a governing coalition? Scary.

  28. I'm pretty sure the Taliban will fight us either way.

  29. Dumbest comment award. Wherry usually just posts the statements and supporting documentation with brief introductions.

  30. He was given permission by the former opposition MPs – that's how it works.

  31. But the MOU doesn't have the force of law. It wasn't voted on by the House of Commons and the Senate and given Royal Assent. It was agreed to behind closed doors by individuals. Why can't it be amended by the same people who signed it in the first place?

  32. Cannon is a Minister of the Crown. Cabinet still functions, and Harper is still PM. The other folk were merely MPs.

  33. Harper has already betrayed the trust of Canadians with his delaying tactics. But it makes sense they could not be released if the committee is NOT sitting. Still, the sooner we know what happened the better.

    –Mike T.

    Yes, you will be happy to know I inserted the "not" above your signature. But I am quite sure you intended for it to be there all along…

  34. That's fine and dandy, but the politicians are peacock-strutting without actually amending the MoU. So the jurists are the only honourable ones in the bunch.

  35. So let me get this straight; there are now TWO documents which could be potentially damaging to the Tory campaign and the decision has been made that both documents should be withheld from the public until Parliament is sitting. Am I correct in my understanding?

  36. So let me get this straight; there are now TWO documents which could be potentially damaging to the Tory campaign and the decision has been made that both documents should be withheld from the public until Parliament is sitting. Am I correct in my understanding?

    • To parse it more carefully, the decision has been made that in these two particular circumstances, as opposed to most recent parliamentary circumstances involving rules and procedures, the ruling party has made an exception and is therefore willing to abide by those rules and procedures.

      That this works significantly in their favor might be sheer coincidence, I suppose.

  37. There's another thread at Blog Central today that has links in the comments to the snippets that explain (if I caught the gist without clicking through all of them) that MPs get paid as if they are still MPs, but they have lost all authority as an MP. They become Trudeau's nobodies even on Parliament Hill, too.

    UPDATE: Found it! I refer you here to start with:
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/04/14/i-must-respect

  38. fair enough.

  39. Try to keep up, for God's sake.

  40. .
    I wonder how many of the armed forces are going to vote for a man who won't look his opponents in the eye.

    Don't give Dear Leader a rifle if he visits the troops in Afghanistan. He might put the press-core video-crews' lights out.
    .

  41. .
    I wonder how many of the armed forces are going to vote for a man who won't look his opponents in the eye.

    Don't give Dear Leader a rifle if he visits the troops in Afghanistan. He might put the press-core video-crews' lights out.
    .

  42. Taliban? Monitoring my theater? What's that about air? WHAT THE HELL IS AN INFRACTION?!?

    Oh god, RUN!!!

  43. Just be happy that, unlike CTV, MacLeans is very liberal in its log-in options, and doesn't take its marching orders from Hilary.

  44. Sorry, Leo …. if there is anything in that mess that the Taliban didn't know about years ago,
    I'd be very, very surprised. The people who are having things done to them usually know
    about it and are quite happy to spread the word among their friends. The point of state
    secrecy is to prevent people from knowing what is being done in their name.
    Obviously, there's a place for protecting tactical operation plans … but not much else.
    The Jacks .. Harris and Layton .. were right to walk away.

  45. Now, if only Oda could have been that straightforward…

  46. What does parliament have to do with it? It was three parties that created this parody of democratic process over the objections of another. No one cared that the House of Commons had no vote. No one cared that the parliamentary committee that requested the documents wasn't consulted. No one cared that there was no timeline, no oversight and no spending authority for this sideshow that was essentially a continuing breach of members' privilege.

    Now the lawyers that should have had NOTHING to do with any decision making in the first place, have taken it upon themselves to decide not to release documents that are still owed to the committee and all of us.

    This is nothing more than chickensh*t lawyers covering up for their unaccountable paymasters. We should refuse to pay their fees.

  47. What does parliament have to do with it? It was three parties that created this parody of democratic process over the objections of another. No one cared that the House of Commons had no vote. No one cared that the parliamentary committee that requested the documents wasn't consulted. No one cared that there was no timeline, no oversight and no spending authority for this sideshow that was essentially a continuing breach of members' privilege.

    Now the lawyers that should have had NOTHING to do with any decision making in the first place, have taken it upon themselves to decide not to release documents that are still owed to the committee and all of us.

    This is nothing more than chickensh*t lawyers covering up for their unaccountable paymasters. We should refuse to pay their fees.

    • I am guessing you didn't read the memorandum of understanding.

  48. I am guessing you didn't read the memorandum of understanding.

  49. To parse it more carefully, the decision has been made that in these two particular circumstances, as opposed to most recent parliamentary circumstances involving rules and procedures, the ruling party has made an exception and is therefore willing to abide by those rules and procedures.

    That this works significantly in their favor might be sheer coincidence, I suppose.

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