Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Harper doesn't get it

Bravo to Michael Ignatieff for holding their feet to the fire today:
“The government's handling of this whole affair has been disgraceful. The honour of Canada is at stake,” railed Deputy Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

“Will the PM stop this sickening charade and fire that Minister of Defence?”
Harper blandly blathers on about the clearly deficient agreement Canada has in place with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission that doesn't have access to the prisoners, again. That's what they continue to hang their hat on. And again, another day where our Prime Minister does not out rightly address the concern about Canada's values nor does he firmly state that Canada will not permit torture of prisoners it turns over. Harper is winking at this issue. Listen to this:
“I think what's disgraceful is to simply accept the allegations of Taliban suspects at face value,” Mr. Harper said.

Accused of showing no respect to Canadians and troops, Mr. Harper said it was in fact the detainee allegations that he would not respect. “We don't take those allegations without any evidence.”
Reverse the situation and imagine it were Canadian troops making allegations they were being tortured by Taliban or Afghans - or any other nation - after a report circulated in the media, by a reputable media organization. Would Harper take them at face value or would he remain as uncaring as he is now? This is not the kind of standard we expect from a Prime Minister.

Nor do we expect the Public Safety Minister to be minimizing the standards we expect to be followed:
"We're saying to them that these people that we're bringing you to put in jail, yes, these people have no compunction about machine-gunning, mowing down little children. They have no compunction about decapitating or hanging elderly women. They have no compunction about the vicious forms of torture you can imagine on innocent people. Now we've captured them and yes these people that we've captured want nothing more to do than to kill you and your children and we're asking you to treat them humanely."
If the Canadian Forces are handing prisoners over in such a context where the Canadian government is sending such a message, it shouldn't be surprising to anyone that torture is occurring. This is the same equivocal sort of message that U.S. leadership let take hold down through the U.S. military's ranks and led to the Abu Ghraib mess.

And Day went on to parrot the Bush White House line on setting deadlines in conflicts:
MPs are expected to vote today on a motion tabled in Parliament by the Liberal opposition that calls for a two-year cap on Canada's military involvement in southern Afghanistan.

"Basically the vote is going to be do you tell the enemy the exact day you're going to leave or do you not. It's an interesting debate that's going to take place," Day told the conference audience.
These guys just don't get it.