Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Document Torture

The question of whether or not the Canadian military handed over prisoners to Afghan-run prisons when they had full knowledge or should have had full knowledge that those prisons engaged in torture is fundamentally not a political question. The whole thing stinks of a bureaucratic snafu not political interference. That's why, in my opinion, the issue has never moved the polls. After all, what exactly does the Harper government have to gain from torturing Afghan prisoners? This isn't the Bush justice department we're talking about. If Harper is covering something up, it is likely an unwillingness to expose the mission to criticism by talking about torture and therefore not changing the status quo. That's more politically motivated stupidity than actual malicious intent. However, for some unknown and unknowable reason Harper refuses to just let the documents be released.

That refusal has forced us to revisit via the right of parliament to sensitive information the issue of growing executive power. The privilege motion brought by Mr. Lee et al. is the sort of thing that Leader of the Opposition Stephen Harper would have championed. He'd be leading the fight on this today, if he didn't happen to be in power. Conversely, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe would likely be trying to cover their rear-ends if they were in power. Outside of the lunacy of Paul Martin's Gomery Inquiry, governments in this country have made a habit of avoiding giving parliament the information it wants. Even during Gomery, the government used the existence of the inquiry as an excuse to avoid answering tough sponsorship scandal questions. What's new here is that Harper failed to get this thing far enough away from parliament to avoid further questions. Apparently, his "prorogue and hope it disappears" strategy failed and the inquiry called as plan B wasn't broad enough in scope to deflect the questions. While it is satisfying to hear the Speaker remind us that the legislative branch of government still has some power, this may be a Pyrrhic victory for fans of parliamentary power. There's no convincing evidence that any political party is interested in unraveling the ever increasing power of the Canadian executive branch, certainly not once they gain power. Forcing the government to unredact some documents won't change the overall trend.

1 comment:

CanadianSense said...

Great post.

I think this has been about pragmatic leadership. It is not idealogical or political.

Will S.H. think he can gain or lose on this wedge issue developed by the opposition parties.

The opposition hope to create a scandal with the government over a narrative of "culture of deciet".

For us partisan "Tories" we are confident Canadians will see past the games and punish accordingly.

Will the PM have the confidence in allowing the opposition to seek their mandate?

I don't think the Liberals are ready to go to the Polls.

All views expressed in this blog are those of the author and the author alone. They do not represent the views of any organization, regardless of the author's involvement in any organizations.

All comments are the views of the individual writer. The administrator reserves the right to remove commentary which is offensive.

The author is not responsible for nor does he support any of the advertisements displayed on the page