126

The Commons: Shrug and dismiss

“This issue has long since been dealt with.”


 

The Scene. The Prime Minister stood and shrugged and declared that the military and the government had conducted themselves properly. Michael Ignatieff asked a second question. The Prime Minister rose and shrugged once more, suggesting the Liberal leader was without evidence of wrongdoing by the Canadian Forces.

In the face of futility, Mr. Ignatieff switched to English for a third try. “Mr. Speaker, there are no allegations against Canadian Forces. It is the conduct of the government that is in question,” he attempted to clarify for the umpteenth time. “The government has withheld evidence, it has intimidated witnesses, it has censored documents. This morning it even tried to prevent Parliament from debating the issue. The Prime Minister is responsible for this conduct. He is responsible for a year of wilful blindness. What does he have to hide?”

The Prime Minister stood here to declare the matter closed. “Mr. Speaker, the reason the leader of the opposition now tries to say he does not point the finger at the Canadian Forces and diplomats is, of course, because they have always respected their obligations. These people have been operating in extremely difficult conditions in Afghanistan. Whenever they have been faced with difficulties, they have taken the appropriate action,” he explained. “Systems have been changed two, three, four years ago. This issue has long since been dealt with.”

The government would seem to no longer be interested in trying to explain itself.

Ujjal Dosanjh stood to suggest it was impossible to believe that the abuse of a detainee in the summer of 2006 was confirmed only this week. Peter MacKay rose and confirmed his support for the men and women of our armed forces.

Gilles Duceppe narrowed to the specifics of the field notes apparently only discovered this week that confirmed for General Walter Natynczyk that an individual taken into custody by Canadians had subsequently been abused by Afghan authorities. The Bloc leader referred directly to that report’s most intriguing words—”as has happened in the past.”

The Prime Minister stood and dismissed the concern.

Mr. Duceppe went red in the face, leaned forward, gripped the desk in front of him and castigated Stephen Harper. The Prime Minister rose and asserted his pride in the military.

The Bloc’s Claude Bachand stood and suggested that an internal military investigation was not sufficient, that a full public inquiry was necessary. Mr. MacKay seized on this as a demonstration of disloyalty. “That again really portrays something quite obvious,” he said. “We support the forces, their success and the success of our country. He cannot say the same.”

Jack Layton asserted his indignation. “Mr. Speaker,” he ventured, “Canadians are tired of this nonsense.” The Prime Minister yelled and swiped his hand and asserted his patriotism.

The day went in this way. Moaning and groaning on all sides, unnecessary declarations, reassuring ovations and calls for resignation.

Marlene Jennings raised the previous declarations of the Defence Minister, wondered how many more cases of abuse were as yet unrevealed and demanded a public inquiry. Mr. MacKay invoked “the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears, and sacrifice of the Canadian Forces and our diplomatic corps.”

Mark Holland rose to press further in his particularly insistent way. “Mr. Speaker, the defence minister, on November 23, said, ‘There has never been a single proven allegation of abuse involving a prisoner transferred by the Canadian Forces, not one.’ In one Question Period alone, the minister repeated this line no less than five times. There was no ambiguity, no uncertainty, just an unqualified statement dismissing disturbing allegations of torture, a statement we now know was false,” Mr. Holland reported. “Why did the Defence Minister fail to ensure he was speaking the truth before answering in this House? Why was it left to the Chief of Defence Staff to uncover the minister’s falsehood?”

“Mr. Speaker, at 9:30, when the Chief of Defence Staff called to share this new information with me, that is of course what happened,” Mr. MacKay explained. “We accept his version of the truth.”

Mr. Holland tried again. Mr. MacKay expressed his intent to support the Canadian troops.

The Bloc’s Pierre Paquette attempted to quote from Abraham Lincoln. Mr. MacKay rose to suggest the words actually belonged to P.T. Barnum, then seemed to imply some comparison between himself and Mr. Lincoln. “I will tell him what Honest Abe did do, he tried to unify a nation,” Mr. MacKay declared. “He tried to bring people together during a time of war. That is what great Canadians do. They get behind their forces, they back them, they give them the necessary resources. They give them the necessary support that they need when they are doing difficult work. The honourable member continues to play cheap politics, continues to use wedge politics. We will support our forces. We will see our country succeed with no help from him.”

Mr. Paquette stood and suggested that Mr. MacKay might have more in common with Richard Nixon.

Two more questions from Liberal Judy Foote, two more statements of the government’s faith in the military. Then it was Marcel Proulx who rose to table the afternoon’s 22nd and 23rd questions on this topic. With his supplemental, he referred the Defence Minister to the section commander’s field notes on which this week has turned, wrapping a multitude of questions into one.

“Mr. Speaker, the document made public yesterday by Gen. Natynczyk revealed an essential element, though it was not new,” Mr. Proulx said, the House going noticeably quiet. “In November 2007, this document was included in a 1,200-page bundle presented in Federal Court by the Department of National Defence. At the time, the date of the document was censored, along with the sections dealing with the mistreatment of detainees. It was perhaps new to Gen. Natynczyk, but clearly, it was not new to the government. Why did they hide the truth?”

The Defence Minister stood with what would be his 16th and final answer of the day.

“The member is suggesting by implication that the military somehow did something wrong and that they somehow did not do the right thing,” he opined. “That is what is so despicable. I ask them to slip out of their comfy shoes, pull on some combat boots and walk outside the wire with some of those men and women.”

This was the parting shot, perhaps intended as the afternoon’s climax, the culmination of these past few weeks before the House falls silent on the occasion of Christmas.

And yet, an end to the questions seems about as far away as it has ever been.

The Stats. Afghanistan, 23 questions. The environment, four questions. The economy, finance and banking, two questions each. Human rights, crime, pensions, mining and Aboriginals, one question each.

Peter MacKay, 16 answers. Stephen Harper, eight answers. Jim Flaherty, five answers. Mark Warawa, four answers. Bev Oda, Stockwell Day, Chuck Strahl and John Baird, one answer each.


 

The Commons: Shrug and dismiss

  1. "Just keep slamming the door in his face. Maybe he'll go away"

  2. "I ask them to slip out of their comfy shoes, pull on some combat boots and walk outside the wire with some of those men and women."

    As Petey has done on TV for all of us to see. Nothing despicable about using the men and women of the forces as backdrops, photo opps and other pr stunts.

  3. This Canadian would welcome an election, on the basis of this issue alone. I don't much care which party runs the show, but I do very much care that our parliament be treated with respect. They have little but contempt for representative government, for accountability, and for anything resembling honour.

    • I welcome an election on the basis of this issue, too. It's time for the Canadian people to have their say. Too bad the Opposition doesn't have the courage of their supposed convictions. Perhaps the Opposition realizes that this will probably fizzle, just as the Opposition's fake outrage over H1N1 fizzled. Too much thin gruel, not enough substance.

      • isn't this just doing what the government has been doing to the committee members… not put all the information on the table and force them to make decisions in the dark. I say judicial inquiry first, and if still required an election.

    • That EKOS poll out today – which I note Wherry has conspicuously failed to link, which is odd, since it addresses his hobbyhorse specifically – suggests that a month and a half of torturetorturetorturetorturetortureTORTURETORTURETORTURE has a) convinced a majority of the country that torture occurred with government knowledge, and b) moved the needle on voter preference a little over 1% away from the Tories.

      So, keep hammering away at this, by all means. If the next election is solely on this issue, Stephen Harper is guaranteed to remain PM.

      • "Despite recent testimony from Rick Hillier, the former chief of defence staff, and other top generals before a parliamentary committee, the majority of Canadians believe that some prisoners who were handed to Afghan authorities by the military were tortured, according to a new EKOS poll'

        He might remain PM if no other damaging facts come out…not a likely prospect…but i'd doubt very much if he could do more than hold on to his minority…and maybe not even that.

        • Even if he does.. it does absolutely nothing to excuse their behavior on this file in particular.

      • How nice.

        Of course, this is not about who gets to be PM for the next year. It is about whether our government was complicit in torture and has been lying to us about it.

        Harper does not get a pass just because his poll numbers only dropped one point. He still actually has to be accountable.

      • Are you sure you want to use the word guaranteed? I'm sure a journalist could find an instance where the polls were not indicative of the election results and I might just hold you up to that word.

        This story has received quite a lot of rotation in the main stream media and it just might be the issue to tip the scale.

  4. Well put.

  5. When will Harper stop hiding behind the soldiers? When will he stop using them as toilet paper to wipe his own incompetence?

    • You would rather have the liberals-keep your head in the sand.

  6. So where do we go from here? Mackay had been informed by his military advisors that "There has never been a single proven allegation of abuse involving a prisoner transferred by the Canadian Forces, not one" and an example has finally been produced to show that the military reassurances were incorrect, and therefore Mackay's blanket declaration was incorrect. There was at least one example of a Canadian detainee who was subsequently beaten by his fellow Afghans, before being rescued by our noble and heroic Canadian soldiers.

    I'm sure there are a few other examples of suspected or confirmed Taliban who passed through the hands of Canadian forces before being beaten by their fellow Afghans wearing uniforms. There are also millions of examples of Afghans who were beaten by fellow Afghans without ever coming into contact with a Canadian – but we don't care about those people, because they're irrelevant. We only care about the three or four that could possibly prove useful in the eternal quest to embarrass the Canadian government. This is about politics, not morality.

    So what now?

    • I care about those other detainees too, I just don't feel the same sense of direct responsibility for ensuring their proper treatment. I'd also say that it's quite clear that our heroic Canadian soldiers were highly concerned about what might happen to detainees once they were handed over, did their best to mitigate the risks to detainees formerly in their custody (bound as they were by orders and pressure from above) and I'd be willing to bet that there are more examples of brave Canadian soldiers discovering the mistreatment of people they had formerly detained, and doing something about it (or attempting to do so given the constraints placed on them by those above). I don't think this is the only example of our soldiers doing the right thing IN SPITE OF orders/pressure from above.

      As to what now, I'm not so sure. However, today's flurry of letters makes me think we may actually soon have to pause for a moment in our concern about our involvement in Afghanistan, and back up to make sure everyone understands and respects the supremacy of Parliament and the nature of responsible government in Canada.

    • How cheap are you going to get CR? To say we don't care about those who don't pass through our hands is obviously just a cheap play to try and get people to sweep this under the carpet. Obviously we care about that, which is part of why we are over there trying to install a decent system of law and order. Obviously as well we cannot solve all the worlds problems. But you would hope that our government would, at the very least, take what steps it could to avoid adding to them, not turn away, hide its eyes, and abdicate its responsibility to the troops on the ground.

      Thank goodness their training and morality is more solid than that of their civilian leaders who are alleged to have urged reporters and inspectors not to pass this kind of info on officially, and whose allegations now seem to be backed up by the very non-awareness of our Chief of Defense Staff.

      I can excuse the CDS for not knowing this was going on.. but only if they were open to receiving the reports if it was. If he was not aware because he preferred not to be made so there is no excuse, not for him, nor for anybody above him.

      • If he was not aware because he preferred not to be made so there is no excuse, not for him, nor for anybody above him.

        He wasn't even defense minister when it happened. 2006, remember?

        • CR, The Thwim statement you quote does not require McKay to be Minister at the same.

          • Yeah, but that was the implication. So much relies on implication and innuendo, and so little on actual facts. The whole thing is rather surreal.

          • Considering that I didn't even mention the Defence Minister, how you get any implication against him is beyond me. I think you've retreated into the Harper Anti-reality bubble, and you're just starting to project the opinion you want on to people who challenge your view point.

          • Here's the anti-reality. You suggest that Walter Natynczyk may have preferred not to be made aware of reports, and you also suggest that civilian leaders, like Mackay, "urged reporters and inspectors not to pass this kind of info on officially".

            Why don't you provide some specific evidence for your explosive allegations, rather than innuendo.

          • Actually, Richard Colvin made the accusations. I merely pointed out that the redacting we've seen now, and General Natynczyk's lack of awareness of something that was available to the BCCLA seems to be corraborative evidence toward these accusations. Or at least evidence that somebody didn't want any official notice that we were aware of torture being passed along.

            As to specific evidence, unfortunately I'm not on the MPCC.. of course.. that wouldn't matter anyway, thanks to our current government. Or do you need specific evidence that they're attempting to hide information.. that is.. evidence beyond the motion this morning or the response from the Justice Minister's office?

            Oh wait.. you're the one who chose to believe that the Prime Minister wasn't lying about his office being completely oblivious about statements in the press his own Cabinent Minsters were making after several weeks in the news. After all.. you need specific evidence that he's lying. Given the contortions in that thread, I'm presuming that nothing less than him coming out and flat out admitting it counts.

      • Who's being cheap here, Thwim? These were issues that were brought forward after the previous LIBERAL (I had to capitalize that because so many of you forget who sent our troops there in the first place) government failed to act to prevent the torture that we are now hearing about. It's a bit late, and quite obviously only politically motivated, as the government as led by the Conservatives had moved to correct this tragedy. Thwin, you're pinning the tail on the wrong donkey; it's as simple as that. I doubt you want to own up to that anymore than Peter MacKay wants to accept responsibility for an Afghani gettting beaten with a shoe. You said you would hope that our government would at the very least take what steps it could to avoid adding to the worlds problems – apparently you've not been paying attention; they've already taken steps years ago so that these problems wouldn't arise again.

        • the previous LIBERAL . . . government failed to act to prevent the torture that we are now hearing about

          29 November 2005: Parliament dissolves, election campaign beings.
          18 December 2005: Hillier signs first detainee transfer agreement
          23 January 2006: Stephen Harper wins election, becomes PM.
          May 2006: Colvin & others report that torture is ongoing, i.e. previous detainee transfer agreement is a serious problem.
          May 2007: after much pressure, including the revelation that the Minister of Defense had misled the House on the issue, a new detainee transfer agreement is signed.

          The dates speak for themselves and your willingness to defend and mock torture is a disgrace.

          • It's nowhere near as disgraceful as your unwillingness to admit that you just want to blame the Conservatives for torture committed by Afghanis against Afghanis. I'm not mocking torture, I'm mocking your opinion. Your real argument doesn't appear to be against torture but rather who the government was at the time. It's an argument with no win or lose: You simply don't like the fact that Stephen Harper is Prime Minister and it's obvious. Our soldiers are dying over in Afghanistan so that Afghanis can have the same rights as you, one of them being to vote for someone of their choosing. Either way, you win. I'm sure you'll exercise your right to vote and anyone reading your comments probably has a good idea where you'll mark your X.

          • As ad hominem's go, that was rather dull. I replied below that I thought the Martin government, which incidentally I ridiculed at the time, was to blame for the 2005 agreement (which must surely have been discussed & agreed to before the election campaign of December 2005); I oppose Ignatieff's views on torture; I am not a partisan hack.

            As to substance, you ignored my dates completely and have nothing to add. Your ignorance of all this is clear from the fact that you call the citizens of Afghanistan by the name of their currency.

          • I wasn't ignoring your dates Jack, I just found that they did nothing to advance anybody's reasoning for keeping this debate going. Please accept my apologies for not being exciting. The reason for my disdain about this whole debate is that it's quite obvious that no reasonable Canadian approves of torture, and that any ethical member of either our Government or Canadian Forces would not approve either. That's why steps were taken to fix this problem. To put it in simple terms, my Ford Crown Victoria has several recalls due to manufacturing and design faults; asking Canadians to hold an inquiry won't fix those problems, they were already fixed. This latest line of questioning has only one obvious purpose: to embarrass the current government. It's time for the opposition parties to offer a vision for a better Canada, not a return to past tragedies. Oh, by the way, I referred to Afghans as Afghanis. You were correct about my mispelling; thanks for lesson.

          • Actually, you were suggesting the previous liberal government was responsible for failing to prevent the torture. Jack simply posted a few facts to debunk that statement.

            As you agree torture is abhorent, why are you not upset the current government turned a blind eye to it for a year or so?

            By the way, just because this is a nasty bit of business, it does not mean the government should not be held accountable. Sure, we all want a "better Canada", but the way to get that is to acknowledge our flaws. How do you improve until you know where you have gone wrong?

          • "…quite obvious that no reasonable Canadian approves of torture…"
            When Maher Arar was in some dank cell in the middle east Harper and Day were lambasting the government for trying to get answers on his status, accusing the government of the day of "being more interested in terrorists" as opposed to 'real people.'
            Harper then had no qualms about torture being used, he may have plugged his ears and warbled 'Lalalalallall' but the info he was being fed no doubt gave him a good idea what was happening to people who were under suspicion of being 'terrorist-friendly'. I'd say Harper's past actions won't pass your statement above. And that was an incident where the recipient of said torture was innocent. Yah, I know your talking note — "the Liberals were the government…"
            So why are you so against the current government standing up, providing all information, and being responsible?
            Faustian hypocrite.

    • This is a toned-down version of the China argument, Crit, and it still doesn't work.

      It isn't that we don't care, because as human beings concerned about human rights abuses, any abuse is too much. However, we are not responsible for the situation that caused those human rights abuses, and frankly there is very little we can do about it. We can, however, correct our own behaviour so that we will never be responsible for the situation causing human rights abuses in the future. And if the situation isn't there, perhaps the abuse won't be there either. Yeah, it's only one person or ten, but every abuse prevented is good. Most certainly, as human beings concerned about human rights abuses, it is hard to sleep at night when you know you hold some responsibility for someone being abused. Our government and our military act in our name, so if Canadian Forces personnel were ordered to hand a detainee over, and that detainee was abused, that is on you, Crit, and me, and Jack and TwoYen and Maggie's Farmboy and wilson and every other Canadian.

      Continued . . . dammit!

    • One suggestion for what could happen next: Mackay could contemplate that making blanket assertions (even with input from staff) is a bad strategy.

      There was nothing preventing Mackay, when he first heard of the allegations from Colvin several weeks (?) ago, from saying something along the lines of "To the best of my knowledge there has never been a single proven allegation of abuse involving a prisoner transferred by the Canadian Forces. However, these are serious allegations and it is very important for Canada to hold itself to a very high standard when it comes to prisoner above and torture, and to that end I will make sure that my department looks into this matter. Perhaps I could even refer it to a suitable parliamentary committee."

      But for reasons that I don't know Mackay chose almost the total opposite approach, and so here we are, at this place and time, where what we can still do is learn from our mistakes.

  7. There is something unseemly with the strategy of we are the only ones who support the troops and we will not tell you what happened Parliament.

    I wonder if Canadians care; I wonder if they know how serious this issue will evolve if we give the government a pass this time.

  8. You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
    – Abraham Lincoln

    There's a sucker born every minute”
    P.T. Barnum quote

    ….as usual, Mackay is wrong.

    • They're both actually apocryphal, in that there's no evidence either ever said those actual words, but you are correct in that they are the standard attributions.

      (I believe "sucker" may have actually been said to describe Barnum's practices, rather than by Barnum. My book on the subject is not immediately at hand.)

    • Not so much wrong as misleading. When you say he is wrong you imply he does not know the truth. With Mackay it is much likelier that he knows the truth but is lying again. Seems to be a habit of his to lie even when the truth will serve better.

  9. Mr. MacKay invoked “the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears, and sacrifice of the Canadian Forces and our diplomatic corps.” As I recall, and correct me if I'm wrong, it was Mr MacKay that shot the first volley at Colvin. What the hell is he talking about now.

    He re-enforces his inability to recall (and re-write) history with his quote "I will tell him what Honest Abe did do, he tried to unify a nation, Mr. MacKay declared". Honest Abe tore a nation apart and had countryman fighting countryman in the name of early social justice. Mr. MacKay, please Google "social justice" and then maybe you will have a better understanding why people are screaming for your resignation.

    In my simple mind this issue has gone way past "torture" and has become an example of just how arrogant, self serving and out of touch this current government is. For the record I am 100% behind our Armed Forces and it really maddens me that MacKay finds it so convenient to hide such an honourable organization

  10. I'm pretty much in agreement with the previous posts. I am sick of the Con's using this whole "traitors for not supporting our forces" approach. This isn't about our Forces, it's about a government that lacks the honour our military have. Mr. Harper should look at some of his quotes and apply them "Whenever they have been faced with difficulties, they have taken the appropriate action". Isn't it about time this government took the appropriate action? To me this is no longer about torture but about a government that doesn't want to admit or take responsibility for their own mistakes. We all make mistakes, own up to it and quit dragging the military into it. (to be continued)

    .

  11. "I care about those other detainees too…"

    Sure, you do.

    If you really care as much as you say you'd tell your Liberal master to vote non confidence and let the Canadian people have their say.

    • "If you really care as much as you say you'd tell your Liberal masters to vote non confidence and let the Canadian people have their say."

      This is the stupidest single sentence I've heard all week.

      • Well, it might have benefited from a comma between "say" and "you'd" but otherwise it's not so bad. I suggest you expose yourself to more sentences in a week.

      • It's pretty stupid to say you've "heard" a sentence written on a comment board, unless cannot read without speaking aloud.

  12. I'd like to make sure it doesn't happen again, myself. I can't do that if I don't know how or why it happened in the first place. My first choice would be an unfettered Military Police Commission, but it may be too late for that now after all that's gone on there. My second choice would be an unfettered parliamentary committee, but again it may be too little too late. So my third choice (and it is a distant third choice because it is dangerous with everything needing to be public, and it costs a lot) would be a public inquiry. Sadly, I think that is the only option now left to us.

  13. Well, I'm sick of the bleeding hearts smearing our soldiers.

      • Boffo!

    • I don't believe anyone is smearing our soldiers: I think they are smearing our political class ( an rightly ).

  14. This story is over…whats happening with the HINI? That one is over too. The only ones who care about this is the coalition and their followers…the CBC and CTV.
    "A politician is to be judged by the animosities he excites among his opponents"…Sir Winston Churchill.
    The govt cleaned up the mess left to them by the Liberals before 2006…Liberals dropping like flies in the poles….thats the story here. Another wafer-gate. This one is shoe-gate.

    • you must be fly fishing

      • This story is so NOT over it's growing a second head. A reported today:

        "A former governor of Kandahar who is accused of personally torturing Afghans might have been removed from office as far back as 2006 if Canadian officials hadn't defended him, according to diplomatic memos that have never been made public by the Canadian government"

        As reported by CP and now available on most news outlets including even Conservative TV @ [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNe

        It is increasingly apparent that the government has knowingly and repeatedly overlooked torture in Afghanistan.

        Probably regretting that smear attack on Richard Colvin right about now, as well.

        • Easy Kathryn, I'm with you on this one – I was just punning on Verna Robart's Liberals dropping like flies in the poles

    • Before H1N1 there was Denis Coderre who stood before the house , he was outraged , the shortage of isotypes that had people dying every day.I am sick and tried of the Liberals, sick and tired. Meanwhile in another time zone, the war time president received the Nobel peace prize because this war is just! his Afghanistan war is now a just war. How I love the left leaning media drones, and their followers.

  15. Hear, hear. It's time for the Opposition to pull the plug on this government and let the Canadian people decide.

  16. Which would be of help to those and future detainees how?

    I did like the "Liberal masters" bit though. First off, if they're my "masters" how would my telling them to do something have any effect? Secondly, the Liberals haven't even been successful for the last several elections in getting me to vote Liberal, so I'd hardly consider myself in any way enslaved to them.

  17. The stupid… it burns.

  18. I agree with your first choice. The Military Police Commission is the best way to go for further investigations. I support a thorough and transparent investigation of these matters.

  19. It's really quite sad. They seem incapable of admitting that wrongdoing occured, and steps should be taken to fix it. No.. their attitude is much more, "Well.. if you think it's broken, then you see if YOU can fix it."

    Of course, given the paucity of real thought from Harper's cronies, I'm not terribly surprised.

  20. I really don't care whether Mackay stays or goes. He seems to have botched the government's defense with his recklessly unequivocal blanket declarations, so maybe it's time for him to go.

    • Personally I don't need Mackay to go. Out of all the cabinet ministers or potential ministers that Harper has available, Macky, despite this episode, still seems to have more potential to 'make something of himself' than many other CPC caucus members.

      I'd be happy if I saw some evidence that Mackay was learning something valuable out of this whole episode (and not just how to do a better job of dodging an issue). And in Mackay's defense, regarding refraining from using recklessly unequivocal blanket declarations, it doesn't seem that his cabinet colleagues are setting a good example for him to follow.

  21. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it,
    that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and
    prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to
    things he does not believe he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.

    ~Thomas Paine

  22. They already fixed it, back in 2007. The real issue is whether or not they should have acted sooner, in 2006.

    • CR has it rght! The policy was changed in 2007. All this sound and fury is political theatre.

      • Well, blame the dissemblers for making it so. Had MacKay been honest from the get-go instead of poorly attempting to play the part of infallible patriot this would have been over quite a while ago.

        That sound and fury remains is because it's become so painfully obvious that Harper's party does not feel that Canadians or Parliament deserve any truth about their activities.

    • No that would have been the issue if they had just admitted they should have acted sooner, or explained why they weren't ablet o act sooner, but the issue is now that they lied, and tried to cover-up that inaction.

      They fought every attempt to have the facts heard from the Amnesty International court challenge, to the MPCC hearing (and refusal to extend the Commissioner's term) to the parliamentary committee request for documents and questions in the House. The issue CR is that they have refused to be accountable and have thumbed their nose at parliament to do it.

  23. The truth can be shrugged off (and has been) in QP, but most Canadians do not think much of a Government that use our Military as their *talking points*
    Famous quotes :: every Village has it's idiot.

  24. Lying is an accursed vice. It is only our words which bind us together and make us human. If we realized the horror and weight of lying, we would see that it is more worthy of the stake than other crimes.

    ~ Montaigne

    • Iam different from Washington; i have a higher, grander standard of prnciple. Washington could not lie. I can lie, but i wont.

      -Twain

      • One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

        – Carl Sagan

  25. And rather than simply face up to that and get on with the task of governing, you urge us on to an election.. conveniently before all the facts can be revealed. So tell me, how much worse do you think it's going to get?

    Don't get me wrong, I always welcome an election even during this period of "fragility in the economy", I just think it's terribly sad how it seems some would rather do absolutely anything than simply admit fault.. even if it means risking the loss of power. (Incidentally, if an election was held and the Conservative party again won, does that somehow excuse the behavior?)

  26. You enjoy seeing them used as political props by desperate Ministers? That give you the warm fuzzies?

  27. You enjoy seeing them used as political props by desperate opposition members and pundits? That makes you feel all wonderfully self-righteous?

  28. Do you even read Wherry's QP reports? The Opposition has unrelentingly said that they are not even addressing CF behaviour, they are only criticising the lack of action on the part of the Government from 2006-2007.

    • I watch QP live and make my own judgements.

    • Your whole statement is an oxymoron. You sound like Michael Ignatieff: on the one hand, you support our troops who did everything right, on the other hand you want the Conservatives to pay for covering up for the military because the military did everything wrong! Remember, it's not Members of Parliament getting blown up over there, it's Canadian Forces military personnel. If a crime was commited over there, it would have to be by the Canadian Forces, not the Member of Parliament from Whereverville. The Canadian Forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001; how could you critcize the current government for a lack of action during 2006-2007 when the planning should have long since been done? I thought I was sick for all the H1N1 BS, but this latest smear attempt is even more pathetic.

      • 'You sound like Michael Ignatieff: on the one hand, you support our troops who did everything right, on the other hand you want the Conservatives to pay for covering up for the military because the military did everything wrong"

        Nice bit of sophism.

      • Your very words are a smear on the CF. They follow orders. Do you dispute that? The Government sets policy. Do you dispute that? The Government, not the CF, had to decide what to do after it received reports on torture in Afghan prisons. Do you dispute that? The Government did nothing. It is the Government that is to blame, not the CF as you and your darlings on the front bench shamelessly and thanklessly allege.

        • Of course I don't dispute that the Government sets policy. I also don't dispute that the Government had to decide what to do after it received reports on torture in Afghan prisons. I do dispute your assumption that the Government did nothing – they did, shortly after taking office. If you want to blame a government, you should take a lesson from our world-class snipers and direct your aim in the proper direction: the Liberal Governments of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. You can call me shameless when you understand the meaning of the word.
          [youtube tiFvo9UeTE4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiFvo9UeTE4 youtube]

          • the opposition has put on the table that goes back to the Liberal days Paul, the CPC are the only folk playing chicken.

          • Thank you, I am perfectly well aware that we have the best snipers in the world. In spite of the Harper Government's best efforts to play down the efforts of our regiments in Afghanistan, I am even familiar with the Battle of Panjwai, the success of which (apart from stopping a huge and unexpected Taliban offensive in its tracks) is one reason why the CF was taking so many prisoners in the first place. May I recommend for your edification Col. Ian Hope's book Dancing with the Dushman, or the more journalistic Contact Charlie.

            Meanwhile, while no one, I think, would dispute that the Martin government was very much to blame for the original detainee transfer agreement signed by Hillier in late 2005, your chronology is quite messed up. Colvin reported in May 2006 that prisoners detained by the CF were being tortured by their Afghan jailers; in June, the Afghan IHRC said much the same thing. Meanwhile, for a whole year, O'Connor maintained that the Red Cross was guaranteeing that prisoners detained by the CF were not tortured — an entirely untrue reassurance for which he later apologised. It was not until May 2007, a year after reports of torture had begun, that a new detainee transfer agreement was even signed. While the Martin government is to blame for the first agreement, this whole firestorm concerns the fact that it took a whole year for the Harper government to pay attention to a serious and systematic problem. Indeed, it is still in denial, though that is transparently just an evasion tactic.

  29. I think that's not going to be acceptable unless Tinsley (the commissioner) gets reinstated as the commissioner. (The Conservatives did not extend his mandate which expires momentarily, I believe.) Otherwise, I wouldn't have any faith in whomever the Conservatives appoint in his place. Tinsley has been trying to run this investigation for years now, it isn't his fault he's been so stymied at every turn that his mandate ran out.

  30. Would a Military Police Commission have the mandate to investigate political interference in military decisions?

    Probably not. The investigation should start at the top, with the politicians who call the shots for the military.

    • I'm not sure about that. The Military Police Commission does have on its website a case where a complainant asked the Military Police to investigate a Member of Parliament. The Provost Marshal (maybe) declined the request because a) the RCMP investigates Members of Parliament, b) this case had already been investigated, and c) it was a frivolous action. (The MPCC eventually upheld the Provost Marshall but did not like the frivolous bit, or something like that)

      So I'm not sure if they can't, as opposed to won't.

  31. I don't think it's going to get worse at all. I think the issue will evaporate, just as all the Opposition's previous causes du jour (like H1N1) have evaporated. The LPC is plumbing the lowest levels of popular support in Canadian history, precisely because their strategies rely almost entirely on hyperbole and shameless innuendo. To hear a Liberal tell the tale, you'd never know that it was a Liberal government that originally decided in 2005 to transfer prisoners to the barbaric Afghan penal sytem, rather than to the relatively civilized and humane American detainee system.

    Fortunately, the current government fixed this Liberal mess in 2007. The only question is whether they should have acted sooner, back in 2006.

    • Give it up CR. The liberals may be scrapping bottom but public opinion is clearly behind the opposition.
      The liberals put the agreement in in 05 alright, which by the way the new con govt defended, presumeably because the Abu Ghraib horror show was starting to break in 04. So your attempt to fight fire with fire aint working at all. Your whole post is basically con talking points…not like you at all. When this finally breaks i doubt the liberals will be covered in glory at all. But lying to and misleading parliament has to be addressed…let the chips fall where they may.I suspect that this will be a learning experience for many of us.

    • "Fortunately, the current government fixed this Liberal mess in 2007."

      Unfortunately, that was about 18 months after they learned about it.

  32. political interference in military decisions?

    Can you show a single example of political interference in military decisions regarding detainees?

  33. That's tough to do while the investigations are being stonewalled.

    Hey, there might be nothing at all. But there's smoke here and we need an open investigation with the government's willing participation.

    • This is all very nice. Let me summarize this. 1. Canadian soldiers detained some afghanis and handed them over to the afghan police. 2. At least one of those afghanis were beaten (ok tortured) by the afghan policeman. 3. Conservatives says they didn’t know of a single proven case of torture before they stopped the transfer. 4. Opposition parties claim the soldiers received orders from Peter Mackay or someone in the chain of command to ignore the beatings. 5. Opposition also claims that the conservatives are now covering up this explicit order to ignore the evidence of beatings/torture.

      So are we talking 1 person? 3? 10? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions?

      I’m actually quite upset that in a time when we are still reeling from global economic crisis, my taxes is funding this kind of silliness.

      What about our own prisoners in our own prisons who are beaten by their fellow inmates?

      What about the other afghanis who were also beaten/tortured by the afghan police? Do they matter?

      What about the ordinary afghans who went to vote and are beaten by talibans? Do they matter?

      What about schools in Afghanistan who were destroyed by talibans because they accepted girls? Do they matter?

      The answer is no. They don’t because talking about them does nothing to embarras those lying conniving cheating fascists running the Canadian government today. That’s it!

  34. I actually agree with you on this. I support an open investigation into this issue, because I think there's no other way it can possibly be resolved. Here's a fearless prediction, though: three months from now, the detainee issue will be as dead as the dodo, because just like H1N1, there's no "there" there.

    The evidence will probably show that Canadian-transferred detainees were the luckiest detainees of all, because they were generally spared from Afghan police brutality due to our monitoring system.

    • I don't support any further investigation into this. As for committees, the only time a committee reaches an ethical and intelligent decision is when there are only three people on the committee, with one abstaining and one out sick. We can't turn back time; what we can do is move forward doing things right, and nobody has argued that this problem hasn't been corrected so what good can come out of dwelling on it?

      • Ask Peter MacKay… he's the one using the bucket defense of "There've been no credible allegations of torture, and on any credibile allegations of torture our soldiers pulled the people out, and we changed the agreement anyway"

        Had he started with, "There was a problem, we dealt with it, not as fast as we would have liked but verifying these things during a war is difficult" then the issue wouldn't have gotten legs.

        So what good can come out of dwelling on it now is perhaps ensuring that our elected MPs don't feel as comfortable lying to the House and the Canadian people as they obviously do currently.

    • After 2007…right!

    • I agree with your prediction. I'm surprised it has lasted as long as it has already.

  35. Most Canadians don't think much of a Party that fund raises on the backs of the military either….(Liberals)

  36. George S. Patton: Famous Military Quotes
    No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair. Coalition.

  37. If and when they do a parliamentary investigation, they had better go back to when the Liebrals were in power. It would be interesting to know what they knew about prisoners being tortured and how many were under their watch. Let's see if they will hand over the paper work on that.

    • Why don't you ask the Americans?

      And I feel pretty sure you won't know what I'm talking about, which just shows how much you've been paying attention.

    • Yes. Which is what the Liberals have requested. Not everybody is afraid to have their mistakes examined and perhaps learn from them. It does, however, seem to be a particular failing among Harper supporters.

  38. They probably forgot it somewhere, in a Brown paper envelope.

  39. Do I really want to take the word of terrorist who want to KILL US?

    • Hard choice to make. Believe the terrorist or Harper and his gang? The terrorist is probably more credible than our government. Isnt that a bitch?

  40. MacKay: “The member is suggesting by implication that the military somehow did something wrong and that they somehow did not do the right thing,” he opined. “That is what is so despicable. I ask them to slip out of their comfy shoes, pull on some combat boots and walk outside the wire with some of those men and women.”

    This is getting old. Nobody blames the military, the blame lies with their civilian masters, the Harper Conservatives and MacKay in particular who are working 24/7 to cover up their criminal errors. One wonders how long Peter would last outside the wire. Not long I suspect. His behavior and attempts to hide behind our men and women is Afghanistan is despicable.

    • What's really, really old is people claiming that they support the military and then in the same breath accuse the Government of covering up for the military. How can you say that you support the military, that they did nothing wrong, and then accuse the government of covering up for the military? If the military did nothing wrong, as you say, then what is there to cover up? This is cheap politics, and anyone with a minimum of two brain cells knows it. There's not much point in wasting taxpayers hard-earned dollars to confirm that something went wrong. We all know that the mission that the Liberals sent our Canadian Forces on didn't go the way they planned, but our government has worked hard to fix those problems. Why are so many people trying to revive them?

      • Unfortunately, it seems you must be just shy of your required minimum.

        Otherwise, you'd no doubt have better reading comprehension and realize Tceh was saying that the Harper government is working to cover up their own errors, not those of the military.

        • It's the government that gives orders to the military. It is the government that sets the course that the military follows. It is the government that should stand tall and take responsibility for any issues that occur in the orders given and the course set. A government that refuses to be held accountable, nay to even accept questions upon its actions, is no friend of the military.
          Harper's orchestrated deflection of responsibility is in fact forcing the military to be under repute. Just as Harper refused to be accountable on a number of other issues and acted as though it was not in his interest (ie when medicare was being used by US republicans as a pinata), he continues to show that he is no leader and no man. Did Mao misplace a eunich?

          • I agree but must point out that Nuremburg set the precedent that following orders is no defense of the law.

            The documents reveal to date suggest that when discovering abuse of prisoners transferred, the CF did what they could to remove the prisoners and ensure they were treated better. Therefore, while they may not have solved the problem, they did what they could to ameliorate issues as they arose.

            Comparatively, upon discovering abuse of prisoners transferred, it appears our government took over a year to change its policy, redacted documents suggesting that something may have gone awry, and did not fully investigate serious allegations from senior officials.

            I'm quite sure there's more to this story. But from what I've seen so far, our Forces have done what they can to deal with a bad situation. Our government has not.

          • Right on man-every war that Canada has participated in has been lead by our politicians into the battle. It is not the soldier who is brave , it is our brave politicians.

      • Holding the government to account is not going against the troops. I would say a government avoiding accountability by dragging in feigned patriotism is a bigger problem (a fundamental one that goes against the spirit of our system), but then again I don't cheer for either side of the House.

  41. Expressing concern about the treatment of prisoners is one thing.

    Making the protection of the Taliban an endless cause celebre, continually parading the grave injustice done to this poor sympathitic group seemingly in more need of protection, than say…the children being blown up by their bombs, the gays being hung at their hands or the women being stoned in their killing circles,

    is becoming overtly unseemly. (I dare say there's been tenfold the outrage expressed in this frenzy at a few Taliban being roughed up, than the unspeakable horrors committed by these monsters.)

    The problem with getting wrapped up in such a partisan frenzy, is that the next morning, one may wake up with a few regrets.

    This lastest scandal chasing incarnation will run its course, as did pooping puffingate, badjoke about poisioninggate, giant ceremonial cheque gate,

    but at a far greater price to the credibility of the scandal chasers than the others combined, I suspect.

    • Ply your red herrings elsewhere, biff. This one stinks.

      Nobody's called for the protection of the Taliban.
      The issue, once again, is:
      1. Why did it take a year for the government to act on the reports of torture that were brought forward,
      2. Did the government take steps to keep that information from being officially known and hidden from the Canadian public?
      3. Why does the government today see fit to lie about what happened then?

  42. I must correct my above post.

    I suggested the outrage at the treatment of the Taliban prisoners was tenfold more than the outrage expressed at the Taliban themselves.

    It appears to be infinitely more, since there appears to be zero effort to cover the actual evils of this monstous enemy. (my how we've come full circle from the WWII days where the evils of the enemy was commonplace in popular media).

    Posts and articles about the poor Taliban – thousands
    Posts and articles offering perspective on what the Taliban had done to its captors (and continues to do) – you'll have a tough time finding a mention, let alone anything remotely approaching "balance"

  43. The reasons I suspect is because there are sounds that they actually *were* made aware of this unofficially, and then took steps to try and prevent it from being found out officially where they'd actually have to do something about it. And I can even see the reasoning for that, no doubt doing something about it would have been messy, it would have pissed off the war-monger "brownies get what's comin' to them" camp within the party, and the press would have had a field day. It would have been a decidedly uncomfortable situation even if they were doing the exact right thing.

    So they tried to hide it — which of course makes it that much worse when it does start to come out.
    Hoist by their own petard, as they say.. what we haven't found out yet is just how high a hoisting it is.

    • I agree with this. I wouldn't have been thrilled to build a whole prison if it were my decision and so wouldn't have supported it all that enthusiastically. And once the concept was shot down by all of NATO voting, we had to do something. And the Afghans said they understood and would treat the detainees properly, so maybe they would.

      I don't blame the Conservatives for all of that, or even the Liberals. I would have been perfectly satisfied if they'd said, "yes, well when we found out the Afghan's word is as useful as sprinkling salt in the ocean, we began to revise our agreement with them. Perhaps because we were new, and because it is a complex thing, we were slower than expected. We'll do better next time." I genuinely think that's what happened.

      Why they had to deny, deny, blame others, ruin honourable people's reputations, put our generals in extremely difficult/embarrassing situations, hide behind national security to cover their own ass, prevent people from doing their job, and now thumb their nose at the supremacy of Parliament, I have no idea.

      • It's because they don't believe that the Canadian public can be adult about things. Perhaps because they never were.

        So they treat us like children, and then feel justified when we start screaming.

        • That is pretty much universal among the political class, in my estimation.

  44. And do try to remember the agreement contained safeguards to protect prisoners. It was not until the conservatives took over that it was learned those safeguards were insufficient.

    Wouldn't it be nice if Harper actually took responsibility for his own actions? You know, be accountable and stuff?

  45. It is said that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. Greater scoundrels than Harper and his deceiptful gang of conservative crooks cannot be imagined. I have never been so proud of being a resident of Toronto, a city the majority of whose citizens are and have always been to smart and well educated to believe these con men and women.

    • Toronto residents have been not TO smart but just a bunch of idiots who believe in voting for a corrupt party.

  46. But most Canadians wake up to all this with a,
    "tut tut – yawn – pass the cornflakes"

    • Shreddies, and no Tigers isnt on the box. (g)

  47. "But most Canadians wake up to all this with a,
    "tut tut – yawn – pass the cornflakes"

    Speak for yourself, blowhard.

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