Friday, May 14, 2010

Final day for agreement on Afghan detainee document disclosure

I expect that the Conservative government knows full well that the Liberals in particular will not risk an election at this time. The Conservatives will continue to insist on having a veto over what is released in order that nothing damaging to their credibility should emerge. One would think that Conservative credibility is already damaged but nevertheless the polls show no dip in support. Ignatieff's leadership would no doubt account for this! This is from The Star.

Speaker Peter Milliken extends deadline for Afghan document disclosur

Richard J. Brennan

OTTAWA – House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken has agreed to extend until Friday the deadline for the Conservative government to hand over uncensored Afghan detainee documents to Parliament, or at least arrive at an all-party agreement on how to do it.

The sticking point on the release of controversial Afghan documents is the fact the Conservative government still wants to have the final say over what is made public, opposition MPs said Tuesday.

“The key issue is what happens in the events the government doesn’t agree with information that should be disclosed or how it should be handled,” NDP house leader MP Libby Davies told reporters.

Fellow New Democrat MP Jack Harris suggested more bluntly the government still wants a type of veto over what should be released to Parliament and what should be kept secret for national security reasons, despite the speaker’s ruling to the contrary.
“The real issue here is who makes the ultimate decision and our point of view is that it has to be Parliamentarians who make that ultimate decision … that’s the process we proposed. No veto,” Harris s
aid, referring to the MPs who will make up the review committee.

In his ruling, Milliken made it clear he wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government to hand over uncensoredd documents. Otherwise, the government risks being found in contempt of Parliament, which could precipitate an election.

NDP MP Joe Comartin suggested if a deal is not reached by Friday, then one might not be reached at all. “Our sense is we’ve had enough time, exchanged enough concepts and ideas and proposals and that it’s decision-making time,” he told the Toronto Star.

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