Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Confusion from the Harper crew on Guantanamo

The ground is shifting...whatever will they do? Conflicting signals this afternoon from Peter MacKay and Kory Teneycke:
Obama, his presidency just hours old, ordered prosecutors to request the hiatus late Tuesday in order to allow for time to review the case of Khadr and 244 other detainees held at this infamous prison, according to prosecution documents.

That move prompted signals from Defence Minister Peter MacKay that the federal Conservative government would take Obama's cue and re-examine its oft-repeated position that due process in the U.S. should be allowed to run its course.

"Everyone involved in these cases will be reassessing their positions," MacKay said in Ottawa.

That appeared to bring out Kory Teneycke, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who reiterated the government's more familiar message: Khadr faces serious charges and the U.S. process must run its course.

"We are just not going to get into hypotheticals around different scenarios," Teneycke said.

"We'll simply wait and see what comes forward from the United States around this issue. We'll address other questions if and when they arise."
The Star update this afternoon makes the point more emphatically, that Teneycke seemed to be taking great pains to reaffirm that the Harper government's position has not changed, despite MacKay's remark.  CTV suggests the same dynamic, that Teneycke came out to correct MacKay's overture.  There's no question who continues to run the show, no ministers need ask.  MacKay's position, however, is resonating with some, including this former Stockwell Day adviser:
Scott Newark, a former Crown Prosecutor who has also served as a security advisor to both the Government of Ontario and former Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, said in an interview with the Toronto Star said that he agreed now is the best time to exert influence over Khadr's fate.

Calling Khadr a "low level foot soldier with a high level pedigree," due to his late father's connections to Al Qaeda, he said a plan should be in place to slowly re-integrate Khadr back to Canada.

"The Canadian government better realize one way or another, the ball is coming back to our court and this government and Prime Minister Harper should be asked: `Are we prepared?' "
Now's the time for leadership and an evolution in the Canadian government's position on Guantanamo Bay.  Off the mark, we're just seeing more hesitation and now, perhaps internal disagreement between the PM's office and MacKay.