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Would Harper rather go to an election then release the detainee docs?

There are rumours and quotations from unnamed PMO staffers that if push came to shove, Harper and the Conservatives would rather dissolve Parliament and call an election over the issue of turning over the unredacted Afghanistan detainee documents if they were found in contempt of Parliament and/or the Speaker issued a Warrant ordering the documents to be turned over to Parliament.

Seems a bit drastic and like a lot of brinkmanship on the part of the Conservatives, you might think. Then again, if the reports from Friday on CBC and via Professor Attaran is true – that Canadian officials wanted certain high-value prisoners tortured to get extra intelligence out of them – and the weekend CP report that our CSIS spies were also involved in interrogations/transfers, then one could understand why the Conservative government would be desperate not to release these documents. It would have nothing to do with “national security”, but everything to with issues of political damage/embarrassment to the Conservative government at the very least, and possibly evidence of Canadian officials being knowingly complicit in international law violations/war crimes at the worst.

My opinion is IF Harper goes or tries to go the polls over this, he will be crucified in the media and by the opposition political parties (and ultimately by the public) as once again cutting and running to the Governor-General when the going gets tough. Worse, his motivation to go to an election is nothing more then trying to get a majority so he can completely shut down investigations of this issue and to ensure those documents do not get released.

If the PMO and/or the Conservative government think the Canadian people are going to stand for that or give him a majority so he can muzzle Canadian independent or Parliamentary investigations on this issue, I think they’re being very foolish (and we haven’t even brought in the angle that the International Criminal Court will investigate these allegations if Canada won’t).

I believe the opposition parties should call the Conservative government’s bluff on this, and if they really are desperate enough to want to go to an election, I think I’d be screaming from the rafters about how once again, Harper is trying to avoid accountability on this issue, and what exactly is so terrible in these detainee documents that he’d risk election defeat over them?

In fact, I’d be screaming about this attempted rumoured election scenario now, just to get it out there to the media and to make it as politically toxic to the government as possible.

The point for me remains – press the point of order that the government is officially in contempt of Parliament. Interrogate the ministers in question at the H of C bar (heck, get the Speaker to arrest one or 2 of them, I hear the Parliamentary dungeon hasn’t been used in a few years).. and finally, ask the Speaker to issue his Speaker’s warrant and have the documents turned over. Alternatively, the government can call for a full Parliamentary inquiry into this issue… not the half-baked thing it tried on Friday.


26 comments to Would Harper rather go to an election then release the detainee docs?

  • wilson

    The Judge will make public his report,
    he will determine what documents are for public viewing,
    and Canadians will be ok fine with that.
    Even Craig Oliver is fine with that, so don’t count on media support on this one.

    If that isn’t enough for the Opps,
    PMSH will make any motion on the issue a confidence vote,
    and Libs can decide if they want to bring down the government over Afghan detainees being abused by Afghans (‘cuz that is all yah got)

    • marie

      Wilson, the judge in question is a retired one and no longer can he legally make any recommendations that are legal. Whatever results he does make will not only make Harper look guilty as sin and make him a man that is nothing but a crook and a shame to his own family. Happy retirement your honor! Ha ha ha

    • Red Forever


      What Marie said is correct.

      It’s nice to know what little respect for human rights and international law you have.

      Is that the rack conservatives want to hang their hat on?


  • ck

    Scott, I was all for an election, but caused by the Liberals as Stevie would not control his agenda.

    He calls an election, he controls the agenda. He already controls most media outfits. when he is in control, he usually comes out the winner.

    I noticed more and more Canadians are longing for Bush era Americana which would be what we get if a Harpercon majority, complete with Christian Fundamental Evangelism.

    All Harper has to do is take out a page from the Bush play book: keep Canadians scared and that only Uncle STevie knows how to protect us; he knows what’s best. It isn’t in National security to release documents, yadda yadda yadda. You get the idea.

    You should, it was GW Bush’s campaign that got him elected to a second term in office; by keeping McCarthyism alive and kicking; make Americans fear that they’re may be communist socialist Muslim under the bed if he’s not there to keep America safe. They bought it.

    I’m concerned about this happening in CAnada.

    What hypocrisy! They all whine about the nanny state, but while they’re fixated on that, they call Uncle Neo-con to keep them safe; that they would sacrifice basic necessities like democracy and even their freedom and yes, even blindly trust their leader in order to stay safe in their minds from the Muslim boogie man in their closets.

  • foottothefire

    Is there more than two people in Canada who believe Harper will go to an election on this issue?

  • While it is a matter of national security to protect the physical well-being of the Prime Minister and his government, it is NOT a matter of national security to protect the Prime Minister and his government from the repercussions of illegal activity vis a vis, breaches of international law respecting ‘torture’.

  • Big Winnie

    I agree Scott, call their bluff…I think, ready or not, the Liberals need to keep this issue front and centre, charging the government with Contempt. If an election is the result, then let us “live or die by the sword”. We can’t let it “go away” as the CONs want.

  • Michael Harkov

    LOL. Oh. My apologies. “Back channels”. Gee, that is credible. Hell, is it even legal?

    Why doesn’t the government reveal those documents in full, you say? Maybe for the same reason that Mr. Attaran isn’t doing so now – to preserve national security. Isn’t that convenient, hmmm?

    By the way, I noticed during QP just now that Duceppe asked not one single question during his opening leader’s perogative regarding this “issue”. In his very first question Layton opted to ask about women’s issues in the budget. Now I’m watching Marlene Jennings leaving this super scandal alone during her question round in favour of Rights and Democracy.

    Hmmmm, I wonder why. I almost feel sorry for the Liberals. Almost. ;D

    • Michael Harkov

      Heh. Well well, nothing from Thomas Mulcair either. Nor Scott Brison. Ralph Goodale? Silence. Interesting. Such a brutal scandal and………..*poof* – nothing about it from the Opposition’s biggest mouthpieces during QP. There have been more questions today in QP regarding women’s issue then this “scandal”. I’m shocked. Shocked I tell you.

      Actually, no I’m not.

    • @Michael Harkov, If it was a simple matter of national security, they’d be allowing the Military Police Commission Counsel access to those documents, Michael, because those folks have top security clearance. But the fact they haven’t and have fought tooth and nail to prevent that Comission from viewing them.. and declined to re-appoint the Commission head, speaks oodles that it is far less to do with National Security.. and much more with trying to cover political damage, or violations of international law.

      Nice parrot imitation of the Cons government’s excuses tho, Michael.

      • Michael Harkov

        If it was a simple matter of national security, they’d be allowing the Military Police Commission Counsel access to those documents, Michael, because those folks have top security clearance.

        LOL So? What has that to do with the price of tea in China? Wasn’t it Mr. Attaran that gave this “explanation” of “national security” for why he won’t reveal them in turn? Funny, Scott, that the Liberals conveniently look the other way because a person who you say is “uncomfortable with what the Conservative government is doing” who allegedly broke the law by revealing secret government documents to a law professor, who is someone that never should have been given the information for a certainty.

        And as an aside, if the MPCC wants that information and is not getting it, perhaps they should ask Mr. Attaran’s source. 😉 I noticed also that Michael Ignatieff has no problem going all the way back to 2002 in a public inquiry. Why should he, afterall? it is not like he was here. Some other Liberals that WERE there and are in the Liberal caucus today? Well, THEY might feel……..differently. ;D

        By they way, did you watch the rest of QP? Such a pressing issue and no other questions on this “scandal” were posed – by ANY party. What a joke.

        • Michael Harkov

          And another thing Scott; if, as you say, Mr. Attaran’s source is likely moved by such altruistic motives as a reason for allegedly breaching national security by revealing sensitive material to someone that had no business to it, why won’t he/she reveal themselves and face the consequences of their actions? That is what people who have principles do if they really believe in what they are doing.

  • In Canada, do we not refer to AI (Access to Information) rather than FOI or FOIA (Freedom of Information), which is the American term?

    Where did we learn that Mr Attaran got his information via an AI request? There have been leaks to a number of people for months — I don’t think those have mainly been via AI.

    I do think that the Liberals have some problems on this file, which might be why they won’t press on the scandal hard enough. Hillier is their problem first of all. It is true that the longer a crime goes on, the heavier the criminal responsibility, but there is reason to see criminal behaviour among Harper’s predecessors as well.

  • Michael Harkov

    So, via a FOI request, Mr. Attaran has access to these secret government documents that if revealed in totality, would constitute a gross breach of national security, hence his reason for not revealing them in turn.

    So how is it that Mr. Attaran, a law professor, has access to secret government documents via a FOI request, yet Her Majesty’s Official Opposition is somehow so impotent that they are reduced to screaming at the government to get the same information that is not being revealed for the same reason Mr. Attaran is not revealing them? How does that even begin to make sense?

    Therefore, how these documents came to light are just starting to raise some interesting but uncomfortable questions. The Liberals have screamed “SCANDAL” many times already to no avail because there was nothing there. Now the Liberals are investing a lot of their dwindling political capital here, so they better be very, very careful that they don’t overplay their hand. Forgive the poker anology, however, that A-K suited you have there looks mighty nice pre-flop. But when the flop on the board turns up Q-Q-Q and your opponent has Q-2 off suit and is willing to push in the rest of his chip stack, do you really stick around and hope to hell that the River and Turn show K-K-K or A-A-A? You better hope Mr. Attaran is the real deal, because if he is not, your goose is cooked.

    • Michael Harkov

      My apologoes, that is supposed to be River and Turn showing K-K and A-A, two cards not three; though the Liberals may wish that they get another card. We can call it the Prayer card. 😉

    • @Michael Harkov, Attaran has already said he did not get these via FOI requests, but by “back channels”. In otherwards, someone else showed those docs to him who is very uncomfortable with what the Conservative government is doing

      As for the rest of your points.. they aren’t points. As Greg Weston said in the Sun (not exactly a Liberal chain) if the government has nothing to hide in those documents, it is going to extraordinary lengths to hide these docs.

      Conservative apologists like you have been trying for 2 years to claim there’s nothing here, but your Conservative government’s actions suggest otherwise. If there’s nothing there, Michael, you and other Conservative apologists should also be demanding the government release the unredacted documents to prove that.

  • While there are certainly way too many vocal proponents of torture, I cannot see Harper or any CPC candidate overtly campaigning on a platform that endorses torture or any violation of international (and Canadian) law. Torture is wrong. The vast majority of Canadians really do know right from wrong, even if Harper, MacKay, O’Connor, Hillier et al do not. Human decency will prevail.

    • ck

      In all honesty, little by little, since Stevie’s temporary spurt in the numbers because of Olympics, I lose hope in Canadian society. They are more and more like American Conservatives and McCarthyism is alive and well.

      Look at my comment below where GW Bush won his second term just by keeping Americans scared and that he and only he can protect American citizens against the evul Muslims.

      I, unfortunately can see how Harper can actually win by taking a page out of the Georgie playbook.

      • @ck, you based that “spurt” on one poll ck.

        • ck

          @Scott Tribe,

          Yes, Scott, it is only one poll, however, teh Harpercon media will only use the one poll favourable to their master to serve up their Kool-aid to Apathetic Canadians. That’s why, I worry. That favorable poll to harper will always be the one to come up loudest and the one that sticks with folks most. Especially, since it’s that biased neo-con Brian Lilley who can’t even report the news without gushing St-Stevie all over the Astral Talk network.

  • There is some truth in what you say.
    (Scott forgive me for linking to my blog here .. but the point is relevant)

  • S

    What has me scratching my head is how many con posters on the blogs regard participating in torture as absolutely the right thing to do, and if you aren’t willing to do that, then you have no place in a war….. I wouldn’t be surprised if Harper et al were depending upon a significant support for torture in their ranks, regardless of the scandal of coverup or contempt of parliament.

    • ck

      S: I wrote about that not long ago, in fact even mentioned it in my posting today.

      Yes, there are many who do think that not only torture is a necessity of war, but also “It’s fun to torture little brown people” as some bigoted shock jockettes like to put it.

      We would be diluding ourselves to not be concerned about exactly how much of the Canadian population thinks the way I mentioned above?

      However, something that keeps failing to be mentioned and waved around like a banner: the Geneva Conventions, which unlike that Copenhagen thingey, this is binding and legally valid. It states that prisoners of war; detainees must be guaranteed to have their health maintained: like, no physical harm, their nutritional needs must be looked after: enough food and water, medical treatment if required they must be kept healthy.

      Nobody guaranteed that we would actually like our detainees; if that were the case, laws wouldn’t have needed to be in place and enforceable.

      What we should do is not only keep pointing at the elephant in the room, but point out that if we want a law & order society, it starts with a responsible gov’t leading by example. That Canada, like any nation, must uphold laws.

      What’s more,it’s important to not hound torture per se, but, rather hammer the importance of accountability, transparency, etc.

      It’s not about torture anyway and a campaign of any kind won’t work if you make it about torture. Sad truth is, many, if not most, Canadians are bigoted toward Muslims and thus have no sympathy for them whatsoever.

      That said, I was for an election this spring, but I was hoping at the time, the liberals would actually not listen to their leader and show up in droves to vote against that budget. Stevie doesn’t do well when he isn’t in control of the agenda.

      Now, if Stevie is controlling the agenda, I’m not so sure…

      No, if we were smart, we would make it about integrity, transparency, accountablitity and maintaining law and order.

      Perhaps we ought to find a way to write to GG and tell her to say no this time around. After all, she’s done More than enough favors for the megalomaniac already, especially if the rumour is true that Stevie plans to send her packing.

      • Ottlib

        I am not so certain Canadians would not care about the allegations the government was complicit in torture.

        I happen to agree that Canadians would not care if it was revealed that mistakes were made that resulted in detainees being released to torture. Further if the government were to provide evidence that they took steps to fix the problem Canadians would give a collective shrug.

        However, if it becomes evident that the Canadian government was knowingly handing over detainees to be tortured all things change. Canadians can forgive mistakes, but I do not think that they can forgive intentional complicity in torture.

        Canadians do care about Canada’s international reputation and they know such allegations would sully that.

        Certainly, the Opposition Parties should be talking about tranparency and accountability of the government but if evidence that these allegations of complicity in torture begins to surface they should also be talking about that.

  • EFL

    Dude, if I agreed anymore, I’d be your avatar.

  • Good post. I have 2 thoughts on this. First is that Harper is arrogant enough to do that … dissolve the House and go to the polls in a General Election. Problem for him is that the entire nation will have a raised interest in what the documents contain. In fact, guessing what the documents hold could become the topic of every Tim Hortons in the nation.

    Second thought is that Harper has been making some tactical mistakes lately. He is convinced of his own superior political skill and he believes all of his own hype.

    Mr. Harper … bring it on!

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