In another attempt at cover up, the Reformers refused to show up at the committee meeting yesterday, meaning they had to close it down.
What is in those memos that has Stephen Harper so afraid? They must be pretty damning to go to these lengths.
It's unfortunate, because we are already taking a beating on the climate change issue, now a war crimes trial in an international court could really sink us.
When reporters couldn't get Harper to say he loved Canada back in the day, they should have asked him to say he hated Canada. Clearly he would not have had a problem with that.
Tories force shutdown of hearing on torture
Opposition blasts boycott as whistleblower readies rebuttal to Ottawa today
Richard J. Brennan
Tonda MacCharles Ottawa Bureau
December 16, 2009
OTTAWA–Seven Conservative MPs boycotted a special sitting of the committee probing allegations of detainee abuse, forcing its cancellation and leaving the opposition fuming at the government's "dismissive" attitude to Parliament.
The no-show on Tuesday came as diplomat Richard Colvin prepared to break his silence Wednesday in a 20-page rebuttal of the federal government's claims it received no "credible allegations" of torture of prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities until late 2007.
Colvin's letter, to be submitted to the committee looking into the controversy, is certain to increase the pressure on the Conservative government to comply with a parliamentary resolution ordering it to produce uncensored documents related to the detainee issue.
Although the House of Commons is in recess until after the Christmas break, the opposition party members of the committee are fighting to keep delving into the allegations that detainees transferred by Canadians to Afghan authorities faced torture.
Visibly angry opposition MPs said the boycott was further proof the government is intent on blocking efforts to get to the bottom of the issue. "This government is actually interfering with the privileges of members of Parliament and, in so doing, is making Parliament dysfunctional in being able to go about its job," said NDP MP Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre).
The opposition members had asked for the meeting to talk about having further sessions during the parliamentary recess, which ends Jan. 25.
The committee chair, Conservative MP Rick Casson (Lethbridge), called the meeting but he didn't show.
"We're simply not going to play their partisan political games on this. There's absolutely no urgency to do this before Christmas," Conservative MP Laurie Hawn, a member of the committee and parliamentary secretary to Defence Minister Peter MacKay, told CTV from Edmonton.
Bloc Québécois MP Claude Bachand said the boycott was indicative of the government's "dismissive" attitude towards Parliament. "It is also additional evidence that this government is not interested in getting to the bottom of the issue," Bachand said.
A source said Colvin, who was a senior official in the Canadian embassy in Afghanistan in 2006-07, feels it is his "duty to correct the record and provide a complete and detailed record before the committee."
Colvin will address the claims, both in testimony and in public statements, made by three cabinet ministers, three generals and former top civil servants involved in overseeing the mission in Afghanistan. The source said the statements include: "nobody told us there was a problem"; the claim that as soon as the government was informed they fixed the problems; and that there were no credible allegations of the torture of Afghan detainees until late 2007.
"The idea is essentially to set the record straight," said the source. "And to provide the evidence and transparency the public's been calling for and the committee's been calling for on this issue."
The letter will be sent to committee members and is expected to be released to the public.
Colvin, based in Washington, D.C., as a senior intelligence officer in the Canadian embassy, testified last month that prisoners handed over by Canadians to Afghan authorities were all likely tortured, and that his warnings to military and government officials were ignored.
'TALKING POINTS': WHAT THE GOVERNMENT TOLD ITS MPS TO SAY
1. Government members of the special committee on Afghanistan refused to participate in the opposition's attempts to play partisan games on the backs of our men and women in uniform.
2. We did not think the matter at hand qualified for an urgent meeting, as the events in question happened over three years ago and have been thoroughly aired many times. We have no intention of being part of the partisan games the opposition continues to play on the backs of our troops and the mission.
3. During the Christmas season, we should be applauding the work of our troops who are serving overseas. Not trying to imply they are war criminals. (Nobody implied the soldiers were war criminals ... just the government)
4. Opposition members were given the option of a teleconference to discuss future business but they turned it down. The notice for this meeting was sent out by the clerk as required under the standing orders.
5. Conservative committee members are back in their ridings this week meeting with constituents. They are dealing with the issues that matter to their constituents such as the economy, which remains our government's top priority.