Saturday, December 19, 2009

This is the Canadian Military and the Canadian Parliament and the Canadian Public Deserves Answers

Whenever they are asked a question, the Reformers continue to throw everything back on our military and our troops. No one in the Opposition had questioned the honour of our soldiers.

No one has accused the soldiers of war crimes. In fact most of the reports we are are receiving suggest that the troops were upset with the government for not listening to them. After this debate, further reports have surfaced.

If the government acted correctly, then release the memos and let's clear their name.

What they have trouble wrapping their heads around is that our defense department is the Canadian Military, not the Harper Military. Canadians want answers. I suggest they start providing them because their rhetoric is getting old.

There is a comment at the end of the following story that sums things up nicely:

Kissinger wrote: This REFORM government (it is so far removed from Progressive Conservative that history will never forgive MacKay for taking a knee) is so full of Straussian evangelists and zealots in all areas of political, economic and religious persuasions that they hold Parliament in contempt and believe deeply and philosopically that all thought is divinely classified into two types -- that which is their own and that which is false and dangerous. They are destroying Canada by the installemnt plan..turf them.

Afghanistan probe: Let Parliament do its job
Nova Scotia News
December 19, 2009

THE HARPER Conservatives made one big mistake in waging a credibility war with Richard Colvin.

They’re making a second one by trying to block Parliament’s right to investigate their handling of Afghan detainees and to see documents and records relevant to that investigation.

Mr. Colvin, formerly Canada’s second-ranking diplomat in Afghanistan, is winning the dispute over when the government had reason to believe torture was practised in Afghan jails and how seriously it tried to ensure proper treatment of detainees handed over to the Afghan government.

There very good reasons why this is so.

Mr. Colvin is a detail man. Citing specific dates and reports (identified by government code numbers), his rebuttal evidence to the Commons Committee on Afghanistan lists occasions in 2006 and 2007 when the embassy in Kabul or the reconstruction team in Kandahar warned Ottawa of concerns that the Afghan security service was torturing detainees. To underscore the credibility of these warnings, he cites sources — UN and U.S. State Department reports, various intelligence services, NATO embassies, the Red Cross.

Mr. Colvin gives specific instances of Ottawa rejecting embassy advice to monitor Kandahar jails and follow the Dutch practice of transferring detainees to Kabul, where conditions were better. And he alleges specific cases of embassy staff, and even the ambassador, being instructed by Ottawa "that we should either not mention the security situation at all, or to assert that it was getting better," though staff believed otherwise. One embassy staffer, he says, was "severely rebuked" for reporting security had got worse.

Mr. Colvin has something else in his favour. He gets the principle that government is responsible to Parliament. That it’s Parliament’s job to ask questions and officials’ job to answer them.

"I testified in Parliament because I was summoned by the committee and legally compelled to speak the truth," Mr. Colvin stated in his letter this week. Compare this with the government’s decision to ignore a parliamentary subpoena for documents that would help determine whether officials fulfilled Canada’s obligations on detainees. Compare it with reasons given by Tory MPs for paralyzing the committee with a boycott this week: "We have decided to support our troops, to stop the opposition from calling them war criminals," said Quebec MP Daniel Petit.

Nonsense. No one has called Canadian troops war criminals. And nothing of the sort is implied when Parliament holds ministers and officials to account for setting up a proper detainee transfer system.

If the government failed in this, or told diplomats to put a bogus happy face on security reports, it certainly wasn’t supporting the troops. It was messing up and covering up. To try to get to the truth, Canadians need Parliament to see the records.

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