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Think you’ve seen this movie before? You have indeed.

It seemed like the Conservatives were in a big rush to get current Canadian ambassador to China – and formerly Richard Colvin’s boss – David Mulroney back to testify to try and refute Colvin’s claims that his reports on torture in Afghanistan were ignored or even discouraged – with Colvin mentioning Mulroney’s name as one of those who had done the ignoring/discouraging. They were in such a rush that they got him a plane ticket to appear before he was even formally invited by the Afghanistan committee.

The opposition parties aren’t going to allow that until the Harper government turns over relevant government documents on the Afghan torture file that involved Colvin and Mulroney so they can properly question him, but if you’ve got in the back of your mind that we’ve seen this type of stunt from the Conservatives before, Kady O’Malley reminds us all, that yes, we’ve seen this play before:

When I first found out that David Mulroney — seemingly not satisfied with simply letting the Afghanistan committee know that he’s ready and willing to “set the record straight” in response to the “very serious allegations” emanating from last week’s testimony by Richard Colvin — had, as it turns out, gone ahead and booked a seat on an Ottawa-bound plane, and was already in transit back to Canada, with every intention of doing so later this week, despite the fact that the members had yet to add him to an already ambitious calendar, it invoked the oddest sense of deja vu. Why? Because this is pretty much exactly the same strategy that we’ve seen this government employ in the past in the past when confronted by an overly inquisitive committee threatening to become seriously politically troublesome, during the all but forgotten Ethics investigation into the Conservative Party’s alleged in-and-out electoral financing scheme.

Throughout that week of special mid-recess hearings in August 2008, a series of party-connected witnesses alternately failed to appear, citing improper service, or, in a few memorable instances, deliberately did so on days when they weren’t actually listed on the schedule, whereupon they would demand to be allowed to testify immediately. When gently but firmly rebuffed by the chair, they would storm out of the room to the waiting media throng, insisting all the way that they were being silenced by the tyrannical opposition majority. In fact, I was sitting not more than a few inches away from the party’s then-political director, Doug Finley — now, of course, a senator — when he showed up, bright and more than a little early, three days before he was scheduled to appear. Squeezing himself in at the table alongside the scheduled witnesses, he informed the chair he was ready to take questions; after he was, entirely predictably, rebuffed, he very nearly had to be removed by Hill security when he refused to vacate the seat. When his name came up on the witness list later that week, however, he was nowhere in sight.

The theatrics and gamesmanship that the Conservatives have done and continue to try and do and (no doubt will attempt to keep doing at this and other future committees that are potentially troublesome for them) reinforces all the more reason to have a full-fledged independent judicial inquiry of this affair. There will be no attempted nonsense like this tolerated by a judge – the Conservatives or their witnesses would probably be jailed for contempt of the inquiry/court if they tried such gamesmanship.


3 comments to Think you’ve seen this movie before? You have indeed.

  • E A M

    I think I’ve seen George Mason’s mov(i)e before …typical conservative trolling.

  • foottothefire

    George Mason’s obfuscating horse shit reveals a bit of how a Conservatives mind works, but little else.
    Neither it (the horse shit) or Mulroney will do anything however to mitigate the fact that Prime Minister Stephen Harper sanctioned torture. (He knew; oh yes, HE knew.)

  • George Mason

    “…in a situation of extreme necessity, the possibility, even a slight possibility, that it [torture] may reveal some life saving result would almost certainly overwhelm any consideration that it is evil.” – Michael Ignatieff, The Gifford Lectures, University of Edinburgh, January 2003

    “The use of coercive force in a liberal democracy…is regarded as a lesser evil. This particular view of democracy does not prohibit emergency suspensions of rights in times of terror. But it imposes an obligation on government to justify such measures publicly, to submit them to judicial review, and to circumscribe them with sunset clauses so that they do not become permanent.” – Michael Ignatieff, The Lesser Evil: Political ethics in an age of terror, Princeton University Press, 2004

    “To justify violence, he must have really given it serious thought. Otherwise, that’s very dangerous. What guarantee would there be that he wouldn’t change his mind again?” – Terrorism and counter-terrorism scholar Dr. Janine Krieber, Facebook message as reprinted in Toronto Star, 21 November 2009

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