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Another poll shows overwhelming support for Colvin; majority want public inquiry.

Hat tip to Steve V over at Far and Wide for seeing this poll, taken on November 24/25:

49% find Richard Colvin’s testimony credible; 10% side with federal government ministers.

As Steve said, that’s a ratio of 5-1 of people polled who believe Colvin’s testimony over the government’s official version of “no credible evidence”. That’s even higher then the 2-1 margin from the initial poll taken a few days ago on Canadians impressions of Colvin’s testimony.

We also see in the same polling that a majority of people want a public inquiry:

A majority of respondents (53%) support launching a public inquiry on what the government and the Canadian Forces knew about reports of prisoner torture in Afghanistan, while 36 per cent are opposed.

As long as the Conservative government refuses to allow Richard Colvin’s memos he sent to his superiors to be seen in un-redacted (uncensored) form by the parliamentary committee on Afghanistan, I believe that percentage will stay high. The government gives the impression it has something to hide, and people are obviously not buying the “national security” argument (which is really what is ‘flimsy’ here, not Colvin’s testimony) in keeping these documents censored and away from public viewing.

As for Ambassador Mulroney’s appearance before the Afghanistan Committee yesterday, it wasn’t exactly a bang-up performance from the government’s point of view. As Kady O’Malley said at her liveblogging of the event yesterday, she thinks the government would have preferred less hedging on Mulroney’s testimony:

Dewar wants to know is how Mulroney can say, with absolute confidence, that those people weren’t being tortured. Mulroney keeps trying to point out that the agreement was meant to deal with that, but Dewar won’t let him get away with it, and Mulroney will only say that there was no evidence that they were. You know, I suspect the government may have been hoping for a more — unnuanced performance by Mulroney.

It’s time for those Colvin memos and documents to be released by the government. What is there to hide? Let’s see what they consider to be “ludicrous” and let the Committee and the Canadian people decide. It’s also time for a full independent judicial public inquiry – where the truth won’t be hijacked by government spin doctors.

PS – Steve has a list of points where he thinks Mulroney’s testimony was inconsistent or weak on argument. My blogging friend liberal Catnip also has a good post where she quotes Peter MacKay and Mulroney and believes the statements are contradictory, and that one of them isn’t telling the truth. You decide if she’s correct.

4 comments to Another poll shows overwhelming support for Colvin; majority want public inquiry.

  • mar

    It doesn’t surprise me that the media coverage of this was inadequate – too much trouble to look up the relevant international law or even listen to those interviews with experts who explained the issue – but the opposition parties also failed to elucidate the basic issues:
    – If there is reason to believe there is a RISK of torture, detainees must not be handed over.
    – claiming ignorance of this risk is NOT an adequate defence

    Either willfully or blissfully ignorant of this standard McKay and others repeated the mantra of “no proof, “needing substantiating evidence” – an irrelevant notion – and this was allowed to slide. Had Colvin never testified, the Red Cross, Afghan Human Rights Organization, U.N. and other published sources already gave ample cause to suspend transfers. Yje International Criminal Court has held in a case that if there is notoriety of war crimes being committed, knowledge is imputed to the top of the chain of command.
    Civilian and military command are required, as soon as practicable, to implement all necessary and reasonable measures within their power to prevent war crimes being committed.

    More egregious – under the category of “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels” was Conservative politicians’ equating raising this issue with betraying military personnel. This is turning truth on its head and went largely unchallenged.
    Three principal ways in which a government may betray its armed forces in a conflict are:
    – unnecessarily putting them in harm’s way resulting in their death and/or injury;
    – inadequate support, whether material or service (e.g. medical) that increases the risk of death or injury;
    – issuing standing orders that put personnel at risk of violating international law (in this case aiding and abetting war crimes).
    In the case of the last, the International Criminal Court does not typically hold frontline personnel responsible for the possible war crime but focuses at the top of the military chain of command and civilian leadership in government: those responsible for the policy.
    So who committed the betrayal and why were opposition parties so reluctant to throw the accusation back?
    As to the future, interestingly, Canada is under an obligation to effectively investigate and prosecute suspected war crimes – a Senate committee does not qualify as fulfilling this obligation. An ICC prosecutor is currently looking at the entire Afghanistan situation and could (stress “could”) demand Canada start an independent investigation into whether we aided and abetted war crimes. Also, a letter of concern (as Columbia and other admirable governments have received) could be issued to Canada – a sort of putting on notice. Actual intervention by the ICC is, however, unlikely.
    So since the Rome Diplomatic Conference in 1998 when “Canada provided technical assistance during the negotiation process and played a leading role in establishing a consensual vision over sensitive issues” we fast forward to Canada refusing its treaty obligations to investigate aiding and abetting war crimes.

    A proud history.

  • foottothefire

    The issue is;
    Did Harper know?
    The answer is;
    Yes. Harper knew. Let the war crimes trial begin because all the rest is bullshit.

  • Paul Raposo

    Well, I guess this explains why Harper is bringing a vote on the HST next week.

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