Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Whither Canadian Decency?

On a day when even the stenographers in the press report that the deal forged between the Bloc, the Liberals and the Conservatives is a mess and filled with loopholes the Tories mean to exploit, there are actually things the Tories are up to that are worse and more cynical, Things like not allowing staff members to testify at committee hearings in direct contravention of parliamentary rules. Dimitri Soudas, the Prime Minister’s director of communications, has refused to appear before the Commons ethics committee and has even had security turn away a bailiff who showed up with a summons that he do so.

Imagine the outrage from the "law and order" Tories if a Liberal member ignored parliamentary procedure or ducked a legal summons in this fashion?

There was also the business of trying to ram through Bill C- 23 by claiming that Karla Homolka could be set free if it wasn't passed - they sure love their fear, fear, fear tactics. A compromise has been reached and the national parole board will be able to deny any pardon which brings the system into disrepute and the period of ineligibility for a pardon increases to five years from three for summary crimes, and to 10 years from five for more serious indictable offences. The rest of the bill will remain in committee until the fall, bringing to an end the Conservatives attempt at using Homolka's name to pressure the opposition to pass the bill in haste. Nice huh?

News that should concern Canadians about the goings on in Afghanistan - high profile setbacks and delays.

Afghan Detainee Documents

I promised to withhold judgement on the deal reached between 3 of Canada's 4 major parties over the Afghan Detainee documents. The NDP walked away from the deal saying that the deal shields the most crucial detainee information from scrutiny. Go read for yourself. Jack Harris of the NDP puts it succinctly: “The things you need to know — What did the government know? When did they know it? What advice were they given? Did they follow it? — that’s the stuff we will never see."

An example of the kind of advice the Tories would be getting from lawyers, information that they will be shielded from committee scrutiny under this agreement, is the issue of handing detainees over to the NDS, Afghanistan's infamous secret police.

Paul Champ, a lawyer involved in the investigations into the alleged abuse of Afghan detainees said, "The NDS can't be trusted with detainees transferred into its custody by Canadian soldiers, and the Conservative government was well aware of this. ...the methods of the NDS are well known," Champ told CBC News. "It's electric shocks, it's pulling out toenails, it's beating people with chains, it's hanging them for days. So when someone says abuse, that's a euphemism for torture."

There is something very wrong with this picture.