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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 […]

Truth-seekers 145, Coverup 143

The Liberals motion asserting the supremacy of Parliament calling on the government to release all Afghanistan detainees/torture memos to the Afghanistan in unredacted form has passed:

MPs order release of Afghan torture documents: Harper loses showdown over Afghanistan files

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has lost its iron grip on information about detainee treatment in Afghanistan after a showdown that pitted the power of the ruling party against the power of Parliament. The Liberals narrowly pushed through a motion in the Commons on Thursday that forces Harper’s government to release waves of unedited documents so that Parliament can examine whether Afghan prisoners detained by Canadian forces were subject to torture […]

Good framing of the public inquiry demands by Layton

Layton’s summary is that if the Government of Canada refuses to start a judicial public inquiry into the Afghan Detainee Issue, then an international body (ie. The International Criminal Court) will potentially do it instead. We don’t want that:

“It’s very important that we take control of this here in Canada because if we do not, then we’re going to find that international bodies are going to start asking questions and conducting their own investigations if we don’t take hold of that responsibility here,” Layton told reporters in Ottawa on Thursday.

The 2nd part of the good framing tactic – playing down that the NDP will ask the ICC to […]

Parliamentary showdown on torture documents - this will be very interesting

Kady O’Malley informs us that there will be a very interesting vote tonight. The Liberals have put forth a motion calling on the Conservative government to turn over all documents as requested by the Afghanistan committee in uncensored format. No big deal, right? The Conservatives will just ignore this motion like every other motion they’ve lost, you think.

The difference between this motion and other motions however, is that this motion has legal weight behind it that would compel the government to turn over documents as ordered by Parliament if it passes. The motion reads:

That, given the undisputed privileges of Parliament under Canada’s constitution, including the absolute power […]

Let's just repeat this: torture to detainees was known to have happenned.

This news report says it all:

In a major embarrassment for the government, Canada’s top soldier unexpectedly revealed on Wednesday that some Canadian troops had known detainees handed over to Afghan authorities could be abused. The announcement by General Walt Natynczyk effectively swept away the long-held official line that there was no credible evidence prisoners might be harmed. Legal experts say handing over detainees in the knowledge they could be abused is a war crime.

The key passage from these “just discovered” notes is the part I’ve highlighted, in my opinion:

A contrite Natynczyk said on Wednesday he had just received information about an incident in southern Afghanistan in June […]

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