09/12/2009

This Torture Scandal Just Won't go Away


I thought for a while that I should just shut up about the torture scandal but, isn't that what the Harper government wants, for everyone to stop talking about it?

The latest of course is that former Canadian Ambassadors continue to add their names to a letter which criticizes the Harper government's shoddy treatment of a credible long time member of Canada's diplomatic service, Richard Colvin. By then end of the day it is expected that up to 50 of these retired diplomats will have signed the letter. Their action is unprecedented.

Today, Norman Spector, who was at some point Brian Mulroney's Chief of Staff, criticizes the former diplomats in a rather confusing piece in the Globe & Mail, saying that their letter is "a red herring" because at this point there are more Canadians that believe that Elvis is alive, than those who actually believe the Government on this matter. He says the ex-ambassadors really should be annoyed at that cocky, retired general Rick Hillier. He is the one who Spector says, trashed Colvin personally and "shredded" his testimony.

I am not sure Spector is right. That is not quite the way I remember things anyway.
  • Hillier as, I recall, suggested that he had never seen the Colvin memos, questioned their accuracy and suggested that Colvin wasn't credible. Hillier came away from that testimony looking like retired army thug and Colvin, in my eyes anyway, wreaked credibility.
  • Peter McKay, in an effort to discredit Colvin, as I recall, suggested that Colvin was getting his information from the Taliban instead of using credible sources.
  • Some of the Conservative MP's on the committee aggressively questioned Colvin asking if he was sure about what he had said. Had he seen torture take place? Was he positive it had happened?
Colvin told the committee of MPs that many of the former prisoners were not Taliban but innocent farmers who just happened to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time. He testified that had talked to many former prisoners and that he had seen much physical evidence of torture after the fact.

The Tory MP's were inclined to believe that these former prisoners had acquired these wounds in circumstances which would be the equivalent of walking into a door, not at the hands their Afghan jailers.

The government's conduct in this matter is shameful. Can McKay survive? Will this hurt the Government come election time? Who knows.

The Canadian electorate has proven time after time that they have memories like goldfish. Perhaps that is what Harper is banking on.

So come election time keep your eye out for fireside Steve. You know, the "good" Stephen Harper. The one we only see after the writ is dropped. He'll tell you everything is fine. You'll probably believe him.

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