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Continued bad optics for the Conservatives re: Afghanistan Committee

#1 Bad optic – The Conservatives will continue to boycott the Afghanistan Committee investigating the Afghan detainee situation, meaning there will be no quorum and no formal hearing, renewing the charges of this government trying to coverup and squelch the truth over this messy affair for them.

#2 Bad optic: That hasn’t stopped the opposition members from having witnesses testify ‘informally’:

According to the NDP, there are two witnesses scheduled for tomorrow: Amnesty International lawyer Paul Champ, and retired diplomat Gar Pardy. Here’s the explanation, courtesy of Paul Dewar’s office:

Champ is Amnesty’s lawyer in the case on detainees. He can speak on the information that led Amnesty and […]

My vote for Canadian Newsmaker of the year (and other related items)

If I had a vote for that (and yes, why don’t we also make it for Canadian Of The Year as suggested here), it would be without a doubt cast for Canadian diplomat/intelligence officer Richard Colvin. His brave decision to testify (in the face of Conservative government threats to the public service not to cooperate with the House of Commons Afghanistan Committee Commission or the Military Police Commission) helped to expose the cover-ups and political gaming of the Afghan detainees issue, and the Conservative government’s apparent disinterest (or worse) in making sure detainees who were turned over to the Afghanistan Secret Service weren’t tortured, as demanded by the Geneva Conventions. […]

Colvin returns fire.

Diplomat and intelligence officer Richard Colvin sent forth his detailed counter-rebuttal to the government’s talking points and friendly witnesses that tried to discredit his testimony to the House of Commons Afghanistan Committee. There is some devastating stuff here, that counters point by point the list of points the government and their friendly General witnesses tried to use against his testimony – here are a couple of the 16 counterpoints Colvin uses:

2. . ‘As soon as we were informed, we fixed the problems.’

From Colvin’s rebuttal:

All this information ‐‐ internal reporting from Canadian officials in the field, reports from the US and UN, plus face‐to‐face interventions with policy‐makers […]

If precedent is any indicator on parliamentary privilege, the Cons will lose in court.

… if it even gets that far (more below):

Some good investigation work by the CBC here on similar cases to the one we now potentially face, with the government refusing to hand over the Afghan documents to the Parliamentary Committee on Afghanistan as ordered in a vote by the will of Parliament and Parliamentary supremacy. If these cases serve as precedent, then the Conservative government may have a losing case on its hands:

Canada’s top court has looked at the question of parliamentary privilege in two recent-ish cases. The first is from the early 1990s and it involves the CBC. In this case, the Nova Scotia legislature refused to […]

The Conservatives pull out their old playbook.

It appears they’ve decided rather then prorogue, they’re just going to follow one of the tactics that their infamous “Parliamentary playbook” from a couple of years ago suggested they do on disrupting committees potentially unfriendly to the government’s cause – and that is the Conservative MP’s have boycotted the Afghanistan committee, thus preventing it from having a minimum quorum of MP’s and being able to operate.

The opposition MP’s are actually doing pretty well in holding an “informal” meeting, as you can see from Kady’s liveblogging, but we see another example of the government’s attempts to stonewall any more testimony or information being brought to light over this affair […]

The truth will keep dripping out..

…even if Harper does prorogue. Someone is making sure of that by giving the Globe & Mail’s Paul Koring more unredacted documents of Richard Colvin that he sent to Ottawa -this time about how even Canada’s allies in Afghanistan were extremely critical of our secrecy and handling of Afghan detainees:

Canada was faulted by military allies in Afghanistan over the secretive manner with which it handled detainees in the early months of its Kandahar mission, The Globe and Mail has learned. Reports from the Canadian embassy in Kabul in September of 2006 reveal there was unease within the military alliance about how Canada was handling suspects it rounded up and […]

Another December, another Harper prorogue?

There is strong speculation that the Conservative government will do a repeat performance of last December and “prorogue” Parliament in the next couple of days – that is, ask the Governor-General to shut down Parliament – so he can shut down the chances of being served with a Speaker’s Warrant to produce the unredacted documents on Afghan detainees, and prevent the Afghanistan House of Commons Committee calling any more witnesses until after the Olympics:

Rumours swirling around Ottawa suggest the Conservative government is thinking of shutting down Parliament until after the Olympics, killing some of its own bills but also ending the discussion of Afghan detainees that is nibbling away […]

And here's a possible indication why the Conservatives want the detainee story to go away...

..and why I mentioned in the prior blogpost of mine that the pressure needs to be kept on them on the Afghan detainees story. The first poll taken after the Afghan detainee flap and the revelations by Colvin and then the sudden reversal by General Natynczyk that yes, there was evidence that Afghan detainees had been tortured shows public opinion starting to turn against the Cons:

Conservative Lead Narrows as Liberals Bounce Back

The governing Conservative Party is still leading in Canada, but the Liberal Party has gained support, according to the Canadian Political Pulse, conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion in partnership with the Toronto Star…Across the country, 36 […]

Keeping the pressure on the Afghan detainees story

Just a thought on the Conservative government strategy to try and use the Christmas House of Commons break to make the Afghan detainees story “go away”:

There’s no doubt that with the House not sitting and Question Period not available for 7 weeks for the government to be grilled on this issue, it may be harder to keep the pressure on this government to reveal what it is hiding in the redacted documents and what it knew about what was going on with Afghan detainee transfers and whether it knew they were being tortured, and refused to listen to the soldiers reports coming from Afghanistan, or its diplomats such as […]

Saturday reading material (mostly on detainees)

Some stuff for you to read/view on a Saturday:

– Warren Kinsella produced his big announcement last night on Power Play – an unredacted official document on Afghan detainee transfers – and explains on the air what it says, reducing Tim Powers to parroting his Conservative talking points.

– Andrew Potter over at Maclean’s is worried where this Parliamentary showdown might lead to. As I and others said in comments over there, he need not be. This is all on Harper’s head and his government’s head, and the opposition parties are correct in what they’re doing and shouldn’t back down.

– Stephen Maher of the Chronicle-Herald says that the Conservatives […]

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