'The buck stops with MacKay' - Macleans.ca

‘The buck stops with MacKay’


The NDP has just now asked that the Defence Minister tender his resignation tout suite.

Full press release after the jump.

New Democrats call for Defence Minister’s resignation

OTTAWA – Defence Minister Peter MacKay has repeatedly misled Canadians about detainee abuse in Afghanistan and must resign, say New Democrats.

“Every day new revelations contradict what MacKay has told Parliament,” said New Democrat Defence Critic Jack Harris (St. John’s East).  “Canadians have no confidence in this minister and we call for his resignation.”

Since Richard Colvin’s explosive testimony at the Afghanistan committee, MacKay has called the senior diplomat a Taliban dupe, misrepresented the facts, intimidated committee witnesses and undermined parliamentary access to uncensored documents.

MacKay claimed that he had never seen Richard Colvin’s memos, but evidence shows he had been copied on some of the memos and received others in his briefing book.

He claimed that the Red Cross never warned Canada about the prison conditions in Afghanistan, but documents reveal that at two meetings in Kandahar the ICRC took unprecedented steps to warn Canada about abuse in Afghan prisons.

He claimed that detainee transfers were halted by Canada because Afghans were not respecting an agreement on transfers that it signed with Canada, but internal government memos showed that Afghans themselves halted transfers because of lack of evidence of wrongdoing by those detained.

“MacKay has zero credibility. First he misleads Canadians and when he’s caught he blames Canadian Forces officials and diplomats,” said New Democrat Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa-Centre).  “But the buck stops with MacKay and he has to go, and the Prime Minister must call a public inquiry into this cover-up.”


‘The buck stops with MacKay’

  1. Also it would give him more time for a honeymoon.

  2. "MacKay claimed that he had never seen Richard Colvin's memos, but evidence shows he had been copied on some of the memos and received others in his briefing book."

    Evidence??? That he has been copied? WTF? First of all it was his office that was copied; not him. And please tell me if there has ever been a single minister in any government that has read every single brief in a briefing book. I doubt it.

    There may be reasons to criticize MacKay; that can be debated. But this is not evidence of anything other than the fact that Colvin added the minister's office to his long list of addresees.

    • But email is the modern equivalent of the old office memo. You're supposed to read them. And MacKay has staff who are supposed to bring his attention to important stuff.

      Come on, TwoYen, ignorance is never an excuse. He's got the job, the power, the prestige, the money — he's supposed to be responsible for his portfolio.

      I can never accept a minister of any stripe who simply denies. It's silly and irresponsible — and downright dangerous in some situations.

      • It's got nothing to do with ignorance. It's still not "evidence" that the minister saw the memo. Go ahead. Criticize his staff if you want, but don't say it is "evidence" that he read it.

        • There we go.. TwoYen, once public servant, advocating that it's the public servant's fault that the minister was unable to do his job.


        • Okay then, it's either evidence he read it, or evidence he's not doing his job. Either one means he should be fired.

        • Did that argument wash during Sponsorship?

        • the minister is accountazble for what he does and what he chooses not to do as well as for the actions of his political staff. in this case either he chose not to read the memo, or his political staff chose not to give it to him… either way he is accountable.

    • I'm sorry, but on an issue as potentially explosive as this one pleading ignorance just doesn't cut it.

      He is either guilty of misleading Parliament and the Canadian people, or he and every one around him are grossly incompetent.

      Either way, he should be fired.

      • I noticed that upon hearing Colvin's testimony, the generals went back to the documentation to see if there was something they missed.

        Wouldn't it have been prudent for MacKay to have done the same?

    • "And please tell me if there has ever been a single minister in any government that has read every single brief in a briefing book. I doubt it."
      You may be right; I certainly wouldn't be able to name such a person with confidence, so if it were to be revealed that Minister MacKay did not diligently read his briefing notes about the rains on the Afghanistanian plains, I wouldn't be inclined to hold it much against him (while noting that it is, in fact, part of his job description to do otherwise). But the stuff about torture is pretty serious. It seems to me like he should stay on top of that stuff. You don't agree?

      • I might even be willing to accept that MacKay's briefing notes were not filled with the memos, at first. But after the G&M articles came out, his staff by any stretch of the imagination would have included, and highlighted, memos which seem to confirm the reports out in the public domain, if for no other reason than to get talking points in order. Either that, or they are secret Liberals plotting to ruin a good man's name, and I'm sure would have been thrown under the bus long before now.

        And "I do not do my homework, ever, so I can't be responsible for what I didn't learn" isn't a good excuse in gradeschool, never mind running a country.

    • How could he provide assurances that there were no concerns of torture raised if he hadn't been reading the memos? On what basis could he contradict Colvin's committee testimony later without checking? Why was the government trying to suppress Colvin's testimony and holding back the memos if it didn't know of their existence?

      Unavoidable conclusion: He's an idiot, he's lying or both.

      • Let's compromise and go for both!

    • The Minister is responsible. That's why he gets to be the Minister. Not because he's a fine fellow we all like. Because he's willing (theoretically) to take responsibility.

  3. The Conservative messaging on this has been really odd from my perspective. The issue is government response to allegations made about prisoner transfers in 2006 and 2007. But in 2007, it seems that the issue was responded to when a new transfer agreement was put in place. Now, that's not to say Mr. Colvin's testimony after the fact isn't of importance (it most certainly is) and his claims should be investigated. However, I do think that from a political perspective, there's a time line that matches with a message the government could be putting out about the problem being solved, and the lack of details at the time being because of national security concerns. Now, perhaps I'm thinking too "politically" here and that I'm leaving aside potential cover-ups (specifically ignoring Colvin himself) but regardless, whatever the problem *was* at the time it was seemingly solved.

    So, what I don't get is why *THAT* isn't the government's message. Instead, the begin by attacking Colvin, and now have started the downright sickening (and politically bizarre) process of saying the Opposition has been smearing the troops. Neither of these lines of attack are going to be particularly popular with either the media or really any sensible Canadian. So why do it then? Why is using a toxic "attacking the troops" line the better option? It makes one think that in their haste to deny, deny, deny at the beginning, that they may have left a smoking gun somewhere, and that the ensuing messaging has been about misdirection and covering for themselves.

    • Clearly, it doesn't have to be popular with sensible Canadians. It only has to make sense to people blindly supporting everything that this Conservative government says.

    • They tried this a week or so back with Peter stepping out to try and claim that they knew they had an issue from almost the second they took power and tried to fix it.

      At which point, they were rightly laughed at because they spent the entire 2006-2007 period denying anything needed to be done, rejecting outright the NDP suggestion in the House at the beginning of 2006 that the prisoner monitoring they would later add to the agreement might be a good idea as unnecessary because the Red Cross was (wrongly) going to do this for them, and then the last two years denying anything ever happened.

    • I totally agree with you. They should have come out, even as late as a few months ago, and said, "There were problems and sometimes government wheels roll slowly, unfortunate but there it is." That would have been the end of the story. A bit of grumbling by some ultra-partisans maybe, but by and large accepted.

  4. NDP demands Conservative resignation.

    In other news, the sun rose this morning. Breaking news item: the sky is blue!

    • Actually, the news in this case is that it may be deserved.

      • That's what they say every time.

    • I am confused. Are you saying that MacKay should not resign because this is not the first time the NDP have demanded a conservative minister resign? I am not sure I follow your reasoning.

      • I am saying that the NDP has been demanding resignations for years. Almost every one of them was unfounded, and this one as well. You don't resign because someone disagrees with your position.

        • If you are saying this is unfounded, perhaps you could take the trouble to tell us why rather than post something that really has nothing to do with it. The issue is whether the demand is warranted. Just because this not the first demand does not make this, or any other demand, unwarranted.

          I do not believe the demand is based on policy but rather on documented evidence MacKay has been lying.

          • The demand is unwarranted because there is no proof. It's all speculation, most of it malicious speculation that is almost unquestionably false.

          • Beep…. Beep…. Beep……
            Programing Error!!! Cannot compute!!!
            Partisan indoctrination conflict cannot be overwritten.
            Error…. Error…. Error……

            Yeah man! Those socialist NDP. You can't trust them.
            This is all part of attack plan delta omega five.

  5. "He claimed that detainee transfers were halted by Canada because Afghans were not respecting an agreement on transfers that it signed with Canada, but internal government memos showed that Afghans themselves halted transfers because of lack of evidence of wrongdoing by those detained."

    This one hurts my head.

    So, the NDP's interpretation of the memos is that the Afghans were responsible enough to suspend transfers of innocent people, but once they got their hands on them, it was torture central?

    Not sure what memo they were looking at, but Canada's suspension of transfers is well known and well documented. They probably should have left this paragraph out.

    • 'So, the NDP's interpretation of the memos is that the Afghans were responsible enough to suspend transfers of innocent people, but once they got their hands on them, it was torture central"

      If i recall the story correctly that's not quite how the story unfolded. The Afghans asked for a suspension because of difficulties on the legal side…in other words there wasn't sufficient evidence to get convictions…we complied,for a while. This fits Colvin's assertion that low level or even innocents were being transferred. We promptly put pressure on them to to reume the tranfers…didn't make us look good? Fixed the problem? I have no idea.

  6. I didnt read my emails is not a valid legal defense. Ignorance has never been a defense. Even if no one was telling him about this stuff, its his file, his responsibility to know what is going on in his department.

    Its the same if you work at McDonalds, TD Bank or the Government of Canada. Every time this government gets into trouble, it scapegoats a subordinate and runs the other way. That is not how responsible adults behave.

  7. It's "tout de suite"

    (not that francos don't appreciate the effort)

  8. Resigning sounds like the right thing for MacKay to do since he deliberately misled Parliament. Which means he certainly won't do it.

  9. Give me a break. The whole process of Afgan prisoners being handed over to the Afgan officials was started by the Liberals… Peter and company have been trying their best to clean-up yet another Liberal fiasco.

    As I recall, a certain Liberal Finance Minister said they didn't know anything about the Sponsorship scandal, that means he was either lying or incompetent. I don't recall that Minister resigning…in fact, he became Prime Minister…

    • That is only relevant if the Liberal Government knew the prisoners were being tortured.

      You need to understand the problem here is there is evidence the Conservative government knew about the torture and did nothing.

    • Fine, Prime Minister McKay it is. Now how do you propose to get the other contemptuous, unaccountable wretch out of his throne?

      Campaigned on BEING more accountable than the previous bunch.

      How're they doing on that?

      • I agree with you. I know Peter is a good guy. Harper on the other hand…I don't trust as far as I could throw him. :)

  10. Well, except that while I'm sure they're still willing to accept credit for supposedly fixing the problem (while apparently ignore reports of problems that came up after the "fix"), MacKay et al are simultaneously denying they knew there ever was a problem.

    MacKay and the Tories need to pick a narrative. "We knew there were big problems, and it took time but we fixed them", or "We don't think there was a problem, and if there was nobody told us about it".

    As it is, every time a government member rises to address this issue, I have to hold my breath and wait to see if their response will be "there is no issue", "no one told us there was an issue" or, "everyone knows there was an issue, but we already fixed it". What's truly impressive is the number of Ministers who can take all three positions in the course of a single answer.

  11. It's blather because you say it is?

    Maybe you are not reading the same reports the rest of us are reading.

  12. I would say that is the direct opposite. Once they had credible proof of the problem they moved to change it. Maybe they were slow to act but what action is ever fast in the Governement.

    Trying to place the blame on Peter Mackay is just wrong.

  13. The wonderful world of Politics.