The non conformer's Canadian Weblog

November 22, 2009

The latest PM Stephen Harper scandal

OTTAWA – Canada’s top military commander  Gen. Walt Natynczyk called a news conference today to correct information he gave Tuesday about a detainee who was beaten by Afghan police. Natynczyk told the Commons defence committee Tuesday that Canadian troops had questioned the man in June 2006, but never detained him.  But Natynczyk now says the man was indeed captured by Canadian troops and handed over to Afghan police.  That flies in the face of the Harper government’s claim that there is no credible evidence that Canadian-captured prisoners were abused prior to 2007.  The military chief says he was provided with the correct information today after staff reviewed the record and found the section commander’s report. He has ordered an investigation to determine why the information took so long to come to light.  Opposition parties raised the incident Tuesday as proof that the Harper government knew of credible incidents of torture and of the dangers of transferring prisoners.
 A whistleblower, Richard Colvin, spilled  the beans to a parliamentary committee. about events that went   back to the 18 months between April 2006 and October 2007 soon after the Harper government came to power.  Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan handed over Taliban suspects they had captured to the Afghan police and Sarpoza jail guards  tortured them. Under international law, handing over prisoners for torture is a war crime. So who in Ottawa gave the orders to the soldiers? Who set the hand-over policies in Ottawa? Only a full public inquiry will find out?

The Canadians  soldiers, collected  many prisoners and  the Canadians would wait several days or even weeks before supplying names of prisoners to the Red Cross as required by international law. Meanwhile the  Afghan jail guards had plenty of time to do what they wanted to make prisoners fully talk, including – electric shocks, electric cable beatings, sleep deprivation and sexual abuse. “The career diplomat Richard Colvin. He kept writing reports to higher ups in Ottawa but nobody would listen. They wouldn’t answer his reports, wouldn’t take his telephone calls. When he persisted they told him to write nothing on paper. If he had complaints, phone them in. And when he persisted still more, they transferred him to the  embassy in Washington, and still never acknowledged his reports on the torture. Colvin had flooded Ottawa with 16 documented reports in 18 months. They went to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s national advisor on security Margaret Bloodworth, to the Chief of the Defence Staff, Rick Hillier, to Canadian commander in Afghanistan, Lieut.-General Michel Gauthier; to David Mulroney, our No. 1 man in Afghanistan at the time, today Canadian ambassador in China – in all 76 reports e-mailed to the most powerful people in the Canadian government.  Today none of them can remember seeing or reading any of the e-mails. Memory loss is such a sad thing. Colvin came back to Ottawa recently to testify before a Military Police Public Complaints Commission inquiry into the torture, but the Harper government put a stop to that by threatening to jail Colvin for five years if he testified. They said it might endanger national security. “More likely it would rightfully  endanger Harper government reputation . 

Defence Minister Peter MacKay tried  to discredit Colvin and  said that since Colvin had not seen any torture with his own eyes there thus had been no torture. This is not a definite fact, truth. The tortures still could have occurred and that was why an investigation of the matter was needed that Harper’s government instead wrongfully tried to suppress. Harper and his ministers insist no public inquiry is needed. No, none at all. MacKay labeled Colvin “a dupe” of the Taliban. He said Colvin had “hearsay” torture stories.

But if Mr. Colvin is telling the truth, which seems very likely, then the government was waiting for evidence that could not be ignored, not just credible evidence, before it acted to stop the torture. If that is true, then Mr. MacKay, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other senior soldiers and officials could face legal and political consequences. It is no wonder that they are attacking Mr. Colvin’s credibility.

But our Peter MacKay still also has no answer as to why, if Colvin was such a “dupe” the foreign affairs appointed him our chief of intelligence in Washington. Who is being duped or who is the dupe? Harper, and Mackay rather. And another Great Mike Duffy appointment by Stephen  Harper.   
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission,    at one time entrusted to monitor Canadian-captured insurgents in Kandahar, says it has documented nearly 400 cases of torture across the war-ravaged country.  Afghan commission said it uncovered 47 cases of abuse in Kandahar, which was ranked third in terms of the number of abuse claims in the country. The vast majority of the abuse was carried out by Afghan police officers, according to the report NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said there is a mountain of evidence in reports from other agencies, including the U.S. government. “It’s Minister MacKay’s word against the facts reported by the AIHRC, Amnesty International and even the U.S. State Department,” he said.
Clearly we cannot believe now the Conservatives,  Harper or MacKay to tell us all the truth. and so what happened to Harper’s now past promises of a new better government, transparency, and accountability? It only applies to all others but not to any Conservatives and their appointments.. 
“Taking a stand against torture is fundamental to what Canada is doing there and certainly we in the European Union are doing,” said Michael Semple, a Harvard Carr Center expert who spent years in Afghanistan.

Protest grows against Tory attack on Colvin Globe and Mail –   Intelligence officer and ex-diplomat Richard Colvin, right, arrives at a commons special committee on Afghanistan hears witnesses on transfer of Afghan detainees on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Meanwhile  hypocritical PM Stephen Harper goes to China in two weeks to lecture the Chinese on their abhorrent human rights record.  Will the Conservative government also try to discredit all others now  as well? Beware. So who is next? OR

I often do see our PM Stephen Harper as a Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who takes one step forward and two steps backwards.  Nothing to do with patronage this time.  No big blue cardboard cheques in sight.


It is billed by the London Police Department Chief as “the best (shooting) range in Ontario.” At $22 million, it is certainly modern but one of the features might sit poorly with judges and civil libertarians.  While police can shoot a fleeing suspect that presents an imminent threat to the public, it is relatively rare in most crimes and raises obvious questions under Tennessee v. Garner. The entire project will ultimately cost $32 million and the facility’s gun range is billed as training officers to do a range of shooting,  

Meanwhile  a Toronto doctor is facing a disciplinary hearing over allegations he approved special meal allowances for people on welfare and disability programs according to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.  Dr. Roland Wong,  said he continues to approve applications for the special diet but only if he believes patients have an underlying medical condition that qualifies them for the financial supplement.  “Today, I signed maybe five, four,” he said. “Sometimes more, depends.”  He accused the auditor general of having a very “slanted view” of the program, and suggested he should be looking instead at the woefully inadequate support payments paid to people in need.  Wong said he wasn’t overly concerned about the disciplinary hearing because it was based on a complaint laid against him by a municipal councillor.  “This is a case of politicians against a physician, not the patient against the physician,” he said.  The Special Diet Allowance provides up to $250 per month to a person on social assistance who requires special foods for such conditions as diabetes.  Councillor Doug Holyday said  . “This can’t go on.”     Quebec and other provinces have no such adequate help program and why?

  Next we will shoot any person on social welfare as well? the sick too?


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