Where we're at - Macleans.ca

Where we’re at


As a summation of where the debate currently sits, the first exchange from this morning’s Question Period.

Hon. Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, international and domestic legal standards are very clear. Canada has an obligation not to transfer detainees into situations where there is a reasonable risk that they will face torture. We have now heard clear evidence that the torture was widespread and systemic in the prisons where the government was transferring Afghans. Why did the Conservatives think that Afghans transferred by Canadians would be spared this treatment? Do they not understand that they, the Conservative politicians in Ottawa, have failed to live up to their legal obligations?

Hon. John Baird (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I say to the member opposite, the fight against terrorism, the fight against the Taliban, against al-Qaeda, is very serious and regrettably, the opposition is continuing to play partisan games on the backs of our men and women in uniform. There is not been one single proven allegation of abuse of a Canadian-transferred prisoner, and I should suggest to the member opposite that after three years of accusing our brave men and women in uniform of the very worst, it is time for the Liberal Party to apologize to our troops.


Where we’re at

  1. They should apologize, they are insulting our soldiers! They do take it personally!

  2. As John Baird once again rushes to defend the miltary's honour, I can't help but wonder what the hell he's done with his own

  3. We need to stop for a moment and realize how lucky we are to have the Minister of Transport answer questions about Afghanistan. Many in his shoes would pass these pertinent departmental questions off to his Parliamentary Sec. on such a lovely Friday in our nation's capital.

  4. I wonder, would it be possible, when Baird stands up, to raise a point of Order: "Mr Speaker, I was addressing the question to a Minister that might have relevant knowledge"?

  5. @ John Baird's response to Leblanc's half-question: So…we'll take that as a no?

  6. Wow. The Tories really, really REALLY want this to be about the troops on the ground instead of about them and the Generals at NDHQ don't they?

    The only thing worse than accusing our troops of malfeasance, imho, is PRETENDING someone is accusing our troops of malfeasance so that you can hide behind them and avoid your own responsibility.

    • At some point, we might have to accuse a soldier or two of malfeasance, maybe even without having already proven it in a court of law. Will that be allowed or is it generally accepted now that if you're in uniform, you ought not to be criticized? Part of the government's job is to oversee the military to make sure the soldiers are behaving – it's not necessarily the government that orders every instance of malfeasance.

      • Let's deal with the main problem first, then you can pick cherries later.

      • Fair point, and by all means when I suggested there was not much lower than "accusing our troops of malfeasance" I didn't mean to propose some blanket amnesty for all troops against any accusation of wrongdoing, ever, but that generally casting a GENERAL accusation against "the troops" writ large (which is what the government alleges the opposition is doing) would be pretty scummy.

        Of course, that's not what the opposition is doing, and the government is just hiding behind "the troops" by pretending that the accusations of the opposition are levied against the troops on the ground, when in reality the opposition is questioning the actions of the government, and generals at NDHQ. And using the troops to shield you from the opposition's inquiries is even scummier, imho.

        • I haven't looked at the Somalia inquiry stuff closely, but it seems soldiers might need some guidance and oversight in trying situations. And Hillier's comments about scumbags suggest to me that our front-line soldiers might not be getting the message that human rights of detainees is a priority concern. That could explain why detainees were identified by only one name and months could pass before soldiers in Ottawa notified the Red Cross of detainee transfers.

  7. "Canada has an obligation not to transfer detainees into situations where there is a reasonable risk that they will face torture. We have now heard clear evidence that the torture was widespread and systemic in the prisons where the government was transferring Afghans. Why did the Conservatives think that Afghans transferred by Canadians would be spared this treatment?"

    Good question, why did the Liberals decide to make that government policy? Heck, why did the rest of NATO decide to make that their policy?

    I know the Conservatives have pointed this out in QP already, and Bob Rae's answer yesterday was classic – these were good civil servants doing the best they could in the circumstances. Then, in April 2006, something transformed these same people into Conservative lackies with a criminal disregard for human rights (with the exception of Richard Colvin)…

    • Exactly right ( though even as I type, I can't believe the extent that I'm agreeing with the government on this).

      But you will hear nothing but crickets if you persist in trying to push this line of thought in the maclean's comments zone.

      Here's the latest thinking: "In retaining the Liberal-designed Afghan detainee policy for a year and a half, the Conservatives made us as bad as those human rights abusers in China. The Liberals would never have retained such a policy as the one they put in place, and instead would have sucked up to China a lot sooner".

      Try that one. I think that's how it goes, anyway, although all of this is starting to make my head hurt.

  8. Maybe if someone asks a question about transportation, the Minister of Defense will get up and finally provide an answer about Afghan detainees. Worth a shot at this point.

  9. The tenor of debate coming from the government side of the aisle depresses the everloving crap outta me. Whenever their backs are to the wall they reach down and grab the easiest lies meant to evoke the most visceral of reactions.

    A proposed coalition doesn't get debated on it's merits (or lack thereof), rather it's an "undemocratic coup by the socialists and separatists"

    Questions about how politicians and the military elite dealt with concerns raised about possible torture aren't answered, rather they inform us that the very act of asking these questions is the most scurrilous, treasonous thing a Canadian can do to our brave men and women serving overseas.

    Baird especially seems to revel is lowering the level of discourse in this nation (one gets the impression that he'd just love a Two Minute Hate)

    When this type of rhetoric becomes the norm, is anybody really surprised that opposition forces used the Harper Rebuke to try and score some cheap points?

  10. I wonder – if we installed a transparent, soundproof wall between the government and the opposition, would the so-called debate actually differ?

    At this point, they may as well run QP on Twitter, for all the content there.

  11. The Baird bluster rises as the message drops into 'untruthiness'.
    Few believe a word he blusters.