Monday, March 15, 2010

Stopping torture, or torturing Liberals?

Apparently NDP Human Rights Critic Wayne Marston is tabling legislation called the “Prevention of Torture Act.” What's is about? Well, according to his release, it's about making government complicity in torture impossible (another way to do this is just refuse to release any pertinent documents on flimsy national security grounds, but that's a little more messy.)

The bill, among other things, makes it a criminal offence to use information known to be derived from torture; and prohibits Canadian officials from handing over prisoners to be tortured at home or abroad; and establishes diplomatic protocols for the immediate repatriation of any Canadian citizen at risk of torture abroad.

“If this bill were the law of the land, then Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki and the others would never have been
subjected to their horrific ordeals—and neither would there be a need for the current investigation into the alleged abuse and torture of Afghan detainees,” said Marston.
Sounds great. But it seems that's not really what this proposed NDP legislation is about. At least not according to former Jack Layton press secretary, and current NDP national director, Brad Lavigne. According to Lavigne, it's all about putting the "squeeze" on Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff:

An interesting, and telling, choice of hash tags from Lavigne. Here I thought this was proposed legislation from Marston aimed to prevent another Arar affair from happening. Thanks to Brad for making their true intent clear.

P.S. Brad, there's really NO NEED TO YELL in each of your tweets. We can read them just fine, hash tags and all.

AND by the by, Brad, just how would this be an "iggysqueeze"? The Liberals are long on the record demanding an inquiry that covers our full term in office, and demanding the full release of documents. If this is about attempting to deliberately distort, take out of context and lie to Canadians about Ignatieff's past writings on torture, well, I'd say I'd expect better, but I don't.

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9 comments:

Devin Johnston said...

I'm sorry if Brad hurt your feelings, Jeff. In the future, when the NDP proposes legislation and the Liberals drag their feet, we will refrain from pointing that out to voters.

Jeff Jedras said...

Don't worry Devin, I've long since ceased being distressed by naked partisanship, even from the holier than thou art NDP. I'm just pleased that Canada is lucky enough this important issue just happened to align with the NDP's political ambitions.

Tell me though, are you complaining that the Liberals are dragging their feet on something that was announced this afternoon??

Greg said...

Sorry, I have lost the plot. Are the Liberals introducing a motion of privilege over the documents, today?

CanadianSense said...

No we have the beauty bashing contest in Parliament and how to save 10 million by stopping those flyers!

Priorities are a funny thing for Liberals.

I agree with the Derek Lee motion in testing who has "super duper" powers.

RayK said...

"I've long since ceased being distressed by naked partisanship, even from the holier than thou art NDP."

Devin Johnston said...

"I'm just pleased that Canada is lucky enough this important issue just happened to align with the NDP's political ambitions."

Jeff, is it your position that the NDP is secretly pro-torture and is only pretending to be anti-torture in order to gain political points? Because unless that is your thesis, I just don't understand why you are so upset about Brad's tweet.

"Tell me though, are you complaining that the Liberals are dragging their feet on something that was announced this afternoon??"

What are you talking about? This whole issue revolves around the NDP's introduction of the Prevention of Torture Act, a bill that would make it illegal for the government to use information illicited by torture, comply in torture, or deport Canadians to countries where they are likely to be tortured.

When I commented that the Liberals were dragging their feet, what I meant is that NDP has been consistent on these issues for years now and has actively fought against deportation to torture.

In contrast, the Liberals have supported the deportation of Canadian citizens (including Maher Arar) to countries where they were tortured. Moreover, the Liberal government issued numerous security certificates during their time in office, allowing Canadian residents to be arbitrarily detained without trial or evidence.

There is also evidence that the transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities took place under the Liberal government despite it being known that there was widespread abuse in Afghan prisons. As La Press reported:

"Canadian diplomats stationed in Kabul warned the former Liberal government in 2003, 2004 and 2005 that torture was commonplace in Afghan prisons. In spite of these warnings, the Martin government signed an agreement with the Karzai government in December 2005 to hand over all Canadian-captured prisoners to Afghan authorities, Foreign Affairs documents obtained by La Presse reveal."

So, yes, I would say that the Liberals have been dragging their feet on the issue of Canadian government complicity in torture, having only recently arrived at the party.

ridenrain said...

Wasn't it the Libs who were in charge when Maher Arar was sent off for torture also? I also think they were in charge when Mohammed Rahman was grabbed and immediately handed over to the Americans.

That was before the media gave a damn of course.

CanNurse said...

Very strange post, I thought. The Torture Bill being introduced actually would plug a hole in the law that has been long known to exist.
You said, "The Liberals are long on the record demanding an inquiry that covers our full term in office, and demanding the full release of documents."
Well oh yay. I'm saying that too, but I have no power to make it so. The Libs do. And Iggy wasn't even IN the house on Opposition day today. I keep really really trying hard to like & trust him. And he keeps letting me down, over & over again. It's like a bad love affair. When are the Libs going to DO SOMETHING?!! They had a chance - but their dilly-dallying while they seemingly try to prop up support for winning an election is NOT WORKING. A coalition would be wonderful - anything to get rid of the Penguin. But they do not seem able or willing to share. Sad Sad.

Jeff Jedras said...

Devin, no, my position is not that the NDP is pro-torture, secretly or otherwise. My position is that exploiting torture as some kind of wedge issue against a political opponent for some kind of perceived political gain is odious. Crazy, I know, but that's my position. Exploiting torture bad.

As for your laughable, insulting and certainty not secret contention that the Liberals are somehow pro-torture, I find it difficult to even address such an accusation rationally.

So just briefly, I'll say, read the Arar Inquiry report to find out just who in government knew what when, and what action was taken by the government once they did know. Liberals did not support the deportation of Arar. As for Afghanistan, it was always known torture was a possibility in Afghan prisons, which is why a detainee transfer agreement was negotiated seeking to prevent it. Obviously, in hindsight, it was imperfect. It was, however, negotiated in good faith, and hindsight is always 20-20. But the inquiry which we support will cover this period as well, so all the facts can be aired.

But really, keep going on torturing the truth, and arguing how Liberals love torture. An oddly defensive reaction to my contention advertising your anti-torture legislation, which I support although question the enforceability of, as a political wedge issue is odious. But whatev.