Monday, April 14, 2008

Military Police Complaints Commission

What do Canadians have a right to know in regards to Canada’s role in Afghanistan? Is the Harper conservative government attempting to keep Canadians in the dark? The issue of Afghan detainees may turn out to be an issue that will reveal the answers to these questions.

Last month Parliament passed a resolution wherein Canadians right-to-know was explicit with respect to Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan and specifically the handling of detainees by Canadian troops. This intent of Parliament seems now to be less clear.

The Military Police Complaints Commission has argued that the conservative government has been less than cooperative over the issue of detainees. Subsequently, last month the chair of the complaints commission, Peter A. Tinsley ordered an estimated $2 million public hearing into the matter, which will provide the commission with more power to efficiently investigate the matter of detainees. The Defence Minister, Peter Mackay, was quoted as saying, “the commission will get the cooperation with respect both to information disclosures and the funding necessary to have a full-blown hearing if this is the direction in which it (the commission) intends to go.”

Apparently, the conservative government has had a change of heart on this issue as they are now attempting to block the public investigation by the Military Police Complaints Commission. The Harper conservative government has filed a notice of judicial review this past Friday in Federal Court to put a stop to the planned public hearing by the Military Police Complaints Commission into allegations of abuse of detainees in Afghanistan.

So is this a jurisdictional argument by the conservative government or are they really trying to keep Canadians in the dark on the issue? One thing is clear! Canadians should have a right to know and should never be kept in the dark by their own government.

Finally, what happened to Stephen Harper’s promises of a transparent and accountable government? Who knows? Maybe he will seek counsel from Tom Lukiwski on the issue.