Monday, March 08, 2010

Liberals Reject Detainee Stall

Nice to see the Liberals up bright and early diplomatically rejecting the Harper government's latest stall on the detainee file. Ignatieff writes an open letter to the PM, wherein he doesn't outright reject Justice Iacobucci, but the parameters of his yet unknown task. Basically, the Liberals will accept Iacobucci, but only under the auspices of a FULL PUBLIC INQUIRY:
Justice Iacobucci will not be empowered to do his job adequately, unless the government gives him the mandate to hold a full public inquiry.

Under the process you have proposed, Justice Iacobucci could review documents provided to him by the government, but he would have no way of getting at the complete picture or even of knowing which documents should be made public.

A public inquiry would give him the power to demand materials from the government, to call witnesses and to subpoena testimony. An inquiry could establish the facts and make recommendations for the future.

Accordingly, I am writing to urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to appoint a full public inquiry, in accordance with Part 1 of the Inquiries Act, to report to Parliament and Canadians, in a timely manner, on the transfer of detainees in Canadian custody from 2001 to the present.

Note the unnecessary reference to "2001 to the present" which takes a decidedly non partisan perspective, regardless of regime.

I see this letter as perfect pitch, in the sense that the Liberals are endorsing Justice Iacobucci, but only within a full judicial review. This posture leaves the Conservatives to defend half measures and ambigious direction. With recent developments, the calls for a public inquiry will grow, so in essence the Liberals stay ahead of the Conservative stall tactics. Anything less than accepting a public inquiry, under Iacobucci's direction, again creates the impression of wanting to hide, a lack of accountability and transparency, last week's move by Nicholson fails to take the issue off the near term table.

This response leads to a basic question, which Conservatives can never reconcile- if you have acted in a legally and morally acceptable fashion, if these charges are baseless, then you should have NO fear of a full public disclosure, you really should welcome it. The national security arguments are muted, because Iacobucci has already dealt with these consideration in previous postings, a public inquiry will not threaten as argued. To ignore the Liberal request will only increase suspicion, and in a strange way, force the calls to grow louder. It really has become a "kicking and screaming" scenario, the more resistance, the more concern rises. The Conservatives have already lost many normally friendly allies, and this is a testament to the absurdity of thwarting investigation while simultaneously dismissing the validity.

The Conservatives are fighting common sense at this point. The Liberal response keeps the pressure on, without summarily rejecting. In fact, they've embraced this proposal, but put it in their own terms. A good response.

46 comments:

Tof KW said...

Congrats to Ignatieff and the grits on growing a pair and getting this right. Indeed, I don't see any good way for the Harpernauts to fight this one either.

Nero Wolfe said...

Nice to see the good guys finally have some balls.

However I don't hold out much hope that the conservatives will do what is morally decent and correct.

The liberals after all have said they did not mind an inquiry dealing with Afghan detainee, transfers from the start of the mission in Afghanistan.

The conservatives have also rejected calls to have some committee members sworn in as members of the privy council, and deal with the documents in camera.

The opposition must push this.

If our parliament is not supreme, and our elected representatives can not look at unredacted documents as ordered, we may as well dismiss them all, and have Steve installed as our king.

Steve V said...

I note there is some criticism over the omission of "parliamentary supremacy". I think that is a narrow comment, because this letter seeks to push the idea of a inquiry, which is the best case scenario for the Libs, CLEARLY the worst for the Cons. Should the gov't drag their heels on this request, then we are back to defying parliament, nothing has changed on that score. What this letter does is render Nicholson's gambit unsatisfactory, we want more or it won't fly. Assuming the gov't does resist, using the past for guidance, then we return to the same debate, except the Con cover is rejected outright. You need to see the horizon here, to adequately understand what I THINK we're up to here.

Omar said...

I saw Tomm musing somewhere this morning about whether Dosanjh and Rae will try and split the party on this. If that's all they got, there isn't any good way for the Harpernauts to fight this one.

Nero Wolfe said...

Those conservative whack job a-holes are going to fight this tooth and nail.

They do not respect parliament or parliamentary supremacy.

You think F k head Harper wants war criminal on his resume?

Steve V said...

Maybe that's the calculation? I actually think it is, Harper isn't suddenly going to endorse a full inquiry. If that's the play here, then the Liberals have politely rejected Nicholson's proposal, and left the Conservatives exactly where they were prior to trying to use a respected Judge for cover.

Omar

Maybe Spector will give them better talking points later today. It's all pretty pathetic at the moment, but hey, when you've got NOTHING...

Nero Wolfe said...

Steve

You are getting it all wrong my friend.

One BT fart head said this morning this is actually all the fault of Paul Martin.

If he hadn't dithered we would be in a safer part of Afghanistan, and none of this would have happened.

A-hole conviently forgets that pin head Harper was the one who extended the mission, in the first place.

Those guys are so f kin stupid makes you worry for their sanity.

bubba said...

If there us a full enquiry back to 2001. I support that and the judge ensures that no national security concerns are breached. and he makes a recommendation how parliament can police itself in the future without patisan issues deciding how what is or is not released is decided on.That is reasonable I hope it goes down like that. But i doubt it. There is no trust in the house right now on any side too much gotcha politics these days . For common sense to fit in.

Steve V said...

Nero

Do yourself a favor and don't even visit BT. I go over there about once a season now, and am the better for it. It's nothing more than a concoction of low brow social misfits. Plus, they ain't terribly bright. Why bother?


bubba

The Liberals said specifically, look at the entire mission, regardless of which gov't was in power. There are no games on that front, so your doubt has is effectively groundless. This letter doesn't have to say 2001, yet it explicitly does, and by that TIES the Liberals to this commitment

Tof KW said...

Bubba, I agree with your points – except about the national security breeches – and only because I think that is a canard. There are a number of opposition MPs who are more than worthy of maintaining information of national security, or did you forget the Liberals were once administering our conflict over in Asia? The national security concerns were always just a smokescreen for Harper to prevent the full documentation from being reviewed by anyone outside the government.

As for an inquiry going back to 2001, that has always been the Liberals stand. Ignatieff has called upon an inquiry to begin starting with our original deployment back in 2001; in public, within the house, and on a vote (on record to the public in Hansard) in parliament, and to let the chips falls where they may. That’s pretty unequivocal in my view. The Grits are not afraid of their dirty laundry in respect to Afghanistan, so this just begs the question what is Harper so afraid of?

Steve V said...

"The Grits are not afraid of their dirty laundry in respect to Afghanistan, so this just begs the question what is Harper so afraid of?"

That is a fascinating question, isn't it?

Nero Wolfe said...

Over at Scott's they are talking whether Harper will ask for dissolution rather than bend to the will of parliament.

I think he he is arrogant enough to do that.

That guy thinks he walks on water, and can get away with just about anything.

He does have his fanatical followers.

But hey so did Jim Jones, and Charlie Manson.

Tof KW said...

That is a fascinating question, isn't it?

To which more and more I suspect the answer is a one-way ticket to The Hague.

Nero Wolfe said...

Guys,

I think by now it is pretty damn obvious to all but the self deluded cons what is going on.

Harper is a war criminal, and does not wan't to bone up on his Dutch.

Omar said...

.."whether Harper will ask for dissolution rather than bend to the will of parliament."

Surely to fuck that isn't even a remote possibility, is it? How in good conscience could Harper even think it?

Steve V said...

Nero

I don't think there is any doubt, this latest move was an attempt to take this issue off the table for the spring session. Whether the thinking is that will allow this story to die to the backburner, I'm not sure, but their needs are immediate. When you factor in this budget, which completely waits until next year to really act in unpopular ways, there is a powerful argument that the Cons would rather go in the fall. All that said, if this issue haunts them, to dissolve Parl is tantamount to political suicide, it won't fly, Harper has expended all his political capital in that regard.

Ultimately, the hope may be that the opposition want a fall election, and they can quietly oblige, without looking like they are pulling the trigger. It's a very fragile dance.

Nero Wolfe said...

Guys,

I agree dissolution is a bone head move.

We are talking about Stephen Harper.

Tactician, brilliant master strategist, frickin genious.

Put yourself in his mind set.

He is a classic case of all the other tin pot leaders in history
who feel they are above it all.

After all he is no Pearson, Trudeau, or Laurier we are talking about here.

Tof KW said...

Have to come back to this Nero because this is beautiful...

One BT fart head said this morning this is actually all the fault of Paul Martin. If he hadn't dithered we would be in a safer part of Afghanistan, and none of this would have happened.

Never surprises me how the Liberals are surprised at the self-serving Reformatory mind. You see the wingnut populists are always right, and everything is the fault of those no-good lefties. Once you can wrap your head around that concept, then the flogging bories makes sense.

I used to go on the forum there years ago, back when there was some independent thought. Now I go there once or twice a year to look at their posts and remind myself why I left the conservative movement after the Reformers took over my party.

Tof KW said...

After all he is no Pearson, Trudeau, or Laurier we are talking about here.

He's no Borden, Diefenbaker or Mulroney either. I know not popular names on a Liberal blog, but they were all good leaders who served us well for their times. Yes even Mulroney (GST, free-trade vs US protectionism, standing up to apartheid, and greenest PM ever), who has more class in this little finger than Harper has in his entire body.

Omar said...

Should be a lively, but predictable QP today. I would imagine the gist of Harper's responses will be the need to allow the esteemed Justice Iacobucci to do his job while at the same time thundering how the Liberals are maligning the troops! I think a little humility might be wise, but I'm sure that emotion doesn't even register with our man Steve.

Omar said...

Brian Mulroney? Class?? No comment.

Jeff said...

I'm not so sure that a "full inquiry" is the Holy Grail here. Wasn't there an inquiry into the Somalia affair? And didn't Chretien shut it down and get away with it?

Tof KW said...

Brian Mulroney? Class?? No comment.

Not expecting any love for the man here, however I will give an example. After the Grits were decimated in 1984 and the dippers were crowing how the Libs were dead and they would become their heirs in the coming election, Brian threw them a lifeline. Mr Mulroney said that the Liberals were a traditional party of confederation and they have an important, continuing roll to play in the future of politics in Canada. It was widely played in the media back in the day. In return after the Grits landslide win in 1993, Jean Chr├ętien said very similar words about the Progressive Conservatives. Given similar circumstances, could you imagine Stephen Harper even remotely saying anything like this? Me neither.

Regardless of disagreements I may have on politics and policy between them, Chr├ętien, Martin, Mulroney, Trudeau, Pearson and Diefenbaker all served this nation well in their terms as leaders …and all of them oozed class. Harper will never be in this league.

Steve V said...

I was never a huge fan of Mulroney, but those PC's are a league above this classless gang. No comparison really.

Omar said...

TofKW, my thoughts and feelings on Brian Mulroney and his classiness (or lack thereof), lay more in the greedy, money-grubbing behaviour that he involved himself in and then when to great lengths to cover-up. He marred his legacy all on his own and I care little that he likes to wax poetic on how great a mistake he made. I voted for the guy twice and he let me and the country down. This guy is one of the most loathed former PMs for a reason(s).

Nero Wolfe said...

TofKW

Agree the progressive conservatives, are head and shoulders above the current conservative Harper gang.

As for Brian Mulroney, well at least he was never an embarassment when he was outside of Canada.

Harper is a disgrace on foreign visits.

Watching his conduct, almost makes you embarassed to be Canadian.

Tof KW said...

I agree with you Omar and he let me down as well, and for what? Whatever legacy he could have left is forever tainted by little brown envelopes of cash. That was bad enough, but add to that his actions eventually destroyed a party of confederation.

And thanks Steve, just making the point that the CPofC is nothing like the old PC party of your parents. The Reformatories are a whole new sub-culture of US populist rightwingnuttery, and one that is capable of (among other things) torture and war crimes.

Omar said...

I believe one of the major reasons the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives are experiencing third place status following last June's election is their coziness with the Harper Conservatives. The federal situation places them stuck between a rock and a hard place, but too many Nova Scotians do not (and will not) accept this "whole new sub-culture of US populist rightwingnuttery". I believe interim PC leader Karen Casey realizes this, but her leadership is not set in stone. I for one hope she wins the job in October, but am not holding my breath she will be the successful candidate.

Steve V said...

Another reason is the NDP became the PC's under Dexter ;)

Omar said...

lalalalalala i can't hear you lalalalalala...

Frunger said...

Nero Wolfe:
"A-hole conviently forgets that pin head Harper was the one who extended the mission, in the first place."

Actually, it was parliment that extended them mission, and I think your Iggy guy was part of yes bunch.

What's the big love-affair with public inquiries? That last Mulroney one was a stupid waste of time.

I think a lot of you are just sore over how the Gomery one went, and want a little payback.

It's sickening that the Liberal party is willing to throw the international image of our forces under the bus for a couple of percentage points in the polls.

To Steve:
The discourse in this thread got pretty disgusting, pretty fast.

"A-hole", "f k head", "war criminal", "fart head"

Pretty soon you'll be joining Dr Dawg as the most offensive blog out there. (and I know you're beter than that)

Tof KW said...

Frunger - I'd use worse terms for the Harpernauts, but I'm being restrained. You want it to stop? We will when Harper hands over the unredacted documents and shows there's nothing to hide. Otherwise I think you're supporting potential war criminals.

Steve V said...

"It's sickening that the Liberal party is willing to throw the international image of our forces under the bus for a couple of percentage points in the polls.
"

It's sickening that you're such a Con apologist that you're sanctioning behavior that amounts to war crimes. My goodness, quit being such a stooge.

Nero Wolfe said...

Hey

What's a little language compared to a government acuused of being complicit in torture, and war crimes.

Pretty much sums up those fragile conservative sensibilities doesn't it?

The Mound of Sound said...

Omar, you used "Harper" and "good conscience" in one sentence. I'd have never thought of that.

Tof KW said...

"Pretty much sums up those fragile conservative sensibilities doesn't it?"

That and the name calling from the Reformatories over the years is all in evidence on the various BT blogs. Much like Dean Del Mastro (re: his weight problem) they can dish it out, but they can't take it.

And whatever names are hurled are warranted, if indeed they are supporting a gang that is complicit in war crimes, and shamelessly hides behind our troops to deflect criticism.

bubba said...

sorry to interupt your little hate fest here. The name calling and dirty politics we are witnessing go back to before Harpers time. Just because he is good at it, and winning (at this time) makes it feel worse than before. To me it feels better. We (conservative supporters) were punching bags for a few years. We were beaten down by J.C. at each turn. Pay back is sweet and I cheer P.M.S.H. each time he gets a lick in. In about 9 years i will be ready to shake and make up. These "scandals" are less hurting to me than J.C's Libs stealing my money and admitting it and daring someone to do something about it "it was just a few million dollars stolen so what" I do hope we work together to get to the bottom of the issue(Afghan). But I dont feel sorry for you having to work for all you get. I dont feel sorry at all and I am sure I am not alone. (maybe i am alone on this thread)

Nero Wolfe said...

Bubba,

Thanks

Really thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Glad to be straightened out by you.

Everything makes so much more sense now.

Do you have any more pearls of wisdom to share?

Steve V said...

I guess we'll never be able to shake hands then, because you guys are already beyond your best before date.

bubba said...

After we are in power for 9 more years. I will offer a hand. You can take it or reject it but at that time you will understand the frustration and dissappointment that conservatives had over 13 years of being put down. you are 4/13ths there. Enjoy the rest of the ride(I hope). At that time you may loathe PMSH the way I loathed JC but you are not there yet.

Steve V said...

Hate to burst your bubble, but I'll put my house up as a bet that you aren't lasting anywhere near 9 more years.

Anyways, I didn't vote Lib, so spare me the walk a mile in my shoes routine. You're just coming off as a crank to be honest.

Frunger said...

The whole 'war crime' charge would make me chuckle if it weren't so pathetic.

The only way the transfer of prisoners would constitute war crimes is if the government 'knew' that there was torture occuring after they left our custody and did nothing about it.

We already know that the transfer agreement was changed, after the Cons got into power I might add.

The trouble with the whole situation is that 'credible' accusations of torture are pretty tough to get. Anyone who has dealt with these 'enemy combatants' or whatever you want to call them are trained to claim torture all the time. It's difficult to weed out the phonies from the genuine cases.

The other problem is in the lefties wishy/washy definition of torture. If an inquiry showed that the prisoners were sleep deprived, or had to listen to barking dogs, or had an ugly insect put in their cells you'd have Iggy screaming "torture, 'torture!!" all the way to the parlimentary press gallery.


Silliness.

Steve V said...

Frunger

What I love about this issue, how much it speaks to what a STOOGE one can be. I mean, you have to be one hell of an apologist to defend this gov't on this file. In other words, you feeble attempts to deflect are really a statement on how SILLY you are. It's like an IQ test of sorts.

Tof KW said...

The other problem is in the lefties wishy/washy definition of torture...

Does your definition of "lefty wishy/washy" torture include hitting prisoners with frayed electrical cords? Mine does. And at least one leaked, unredacted email from prof. Attaran published by the CBC has listed this. And if you think that's a "lefty wishy/washy" form of torture, then you are a sad excuse for a human being.

Tof KW said...

Sorry I meant that as it definitely fits the definition of serious torture, up there with waterboarding, and mock executions.

Omar said...

It concerns me that the Liberals aren't sharpening their rejection with the 'supremacy of parliament' angle. Why is this? The cynic in me whispers it is because when once back in power they would wish to enjoy the same secretive and nefarious powers that Harper is currently exercising. It's not much of a stretch I'm afraid.