Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Liberals and Bloc agree to watered-down Afghan document deal

Deal reached on Afghan documents, minus NDP - thestar.com
The watered-down deal also is a historic moment as it concedes power from Parliament to the Prime Minister. This is a very dangerous move on the part of the Liberals and Bloc, and it is very bad for our Canadian democracy.

OTTAWA— After weeks of talks, the Liberals and Bloc have signed a
deal with the government on a process to vet and release documents about
Afghan prisoner torture.

But the NDP refused and walked away
from the process, saying it’s far too secretive and won’t reveal what
the government knew about prisoner torture.

With the Liberals and Bloc onside the deal will go ahead, but the NDP
says it will not uncover the truth about the detainee issue.

don’t think this process is adequate and won’t get at the truth. That’s
why we are saying there should be a full public inquiry,” NDP MP Jack
Harris said Tuesday.


Harris said the NDP believed there was an agreement in principle that
MPs would have access to all documents and that they would decide what
would not be released for reasons of national security.

"We now
have a document that is so narrow and so constrained ... we just think
the process is not open enough, not transparent enough and doesn't get
at the truth and doesn't honour the Speaker's ruling," he said.

The NDP Press release:

Harper still intent on hiding the truth about torture, says Layton

OTTAWA – New Democrats will not sign the Harper government’s latest
proposal on access to Afghan detainee documents because it means
Canadians will never learn the truth about torture in Afghanistan, says
New Democrat Leader Jack Layton.

“The proposal denies the rights of Parliament, allows the government
to hijack the process and doesn’t live up to spirit or terms of the
Speaker’s ruling. The other parties were willing to accept compromises
that we believe would prevent the truth from coming out.
This is very
much like the Blue Ribbon panel on EI that the Conservatives talked the
Liberals into last June. And what happened there? Absolutely nothing.
The Conservatives played the Liberals for dupes all summer long.”

In April, House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken ordered the
government to negotiate an agreement with the opposition parties that
would give them access to the documents. On May 14, the parties reached
an agreement in principle. Since then, the government has been dragging
its feet in negotiations on the terms of the document releases and
insisting on conditions that New Democrats consider unacceptable.

The Conservatives’ latest proposal:

  • excludes legal documents and cabinet records from review, contrary
    to the intent of the Speaker’s ruling;
  • allows a single member of the committee to refer all the documents
    to the panel of arbiters for review, tying up the process endlessly.

In the U.S., the Department of Justice advised President George Bush
that he could ignore international law when it came to the torture of
detainees. That advice was made public.

“But the agreement the Conservatives are proposing here would make
that impossible. We believe Canadians have a right to know who the
government is listening to, and the arguments they are making,” said Mr.
Layton. “The Conservatives want to conceal the truth about the Afghan
detainee affair. The NDP will not participate in this dishonest charade.
We now believe the only satisfactory path to obtaining the truth is
through a full judicial inquiry.”

See also:
Reality Check: Speaker's ruling vs. Conservative travesty


Greg said...

The Liberals are denouncing the NDP, and charging that they negotiated in bad faith. This smells bad.

Thor said...

If anyone has negotiated in bad faith, it was the Liberals - The Liberals, by accepting a deal that cedes power from Parliament to the Prime Minister and doesn't get to the truth of the matter, is letting down Canada and Canadians, and helping to destroy democracy in this country.

Anonymous said...

Point 4 of the MoU:

“Recognizing that Cabinet confidences and information subject to solicitor-client privilege are classes of information that the Parliament of Canada has long recognized are not necessary or appropriate for the purpose of holding the Government to account.”

The Conservative’s proposed memorandum of understanding rejects the notion of Parliament being involved in the vetting of documents “An ad hoc committee of parliamentarians will be established external to the House of Commons”

Isn't that the opposite of Milliken's *historical* ruling?

Skinny Dipper said...

The Bloc benefits by having a dictatorial voice in Ottawa. That party can state that Canada doesn't work for Quebec because of its dictatorial leader.

The NDP will gain in the long run by being the party of democracy if it plays its cards right.

I'm not sure what the Liberals gained from this agreement.

Anonymous said...

What did the Liberals gain? They gain what they understand to be american 'executive' powers. They believe they will be next gov, and they want that executive power.