All posts tagged Afghan detainee controversy

Has the federal government’s ethics program failed?

As 2013 comes to a close, it is  time to take stock of the state of the federal government. It  has been a year of years, with the Senate Scandal dominating. It wasn’t the only story involving dodgy ethics, either. Former Justice Canada lawyer Edgar Schmidt was pushed out of the Department for challenging a policy which lets the Conservative government propose any law unless a legal analysis shows a 95% chance that it will be ruled unconstitutional. Sylvie Therrien was fired for speaking out against an unethical government policy in which EI auditors were given quotas (see our earlier post on this).  There are more, simmering below the surface, either pushed aside by bigger stories.   or they have  become so routine that the media barely notices them anymore.

For those of us at Canadians for Accountability, this is a serious issue that goes beyond mere occasional scandal. Is the government ethics program a failure?

When unethical behaviour is unchecked – and even rewarded, for example with promotions – administrative evil is the result. Canada has seen its share in residential schools and eugenics programs (which Alberta had until 1972).

Fighting this tendency is a challenge as old as government.… Read the rest

The Afghan detainee scandal dies, while petty scandals are given full inquiries

About two weeks ago, with hardly anyone noticing, the federal government announced that it was ending the review of Afghan detainee documents. This essentially brings the scandal to an end.

The review of documents was initiated after whistleblower and diplomat Richard Colvin testified in Parliamentary committee that senior government officials knew that Afghan prisoners of war were being turned over to local authorities – and almost certain torture. That is a violation of the Geneva Convention and leaves the officials open to charges by the International Court in the Hague.

Outrage (manufactured and real) by the opposition forced the government to begin a process of reviewing about 40,000 documents that it claimed were secret. Only the NDP refused to go along with this, claiming the process was a farce designed to avoid accountability.

Well, it appears that the NDP were right. After a review of only 4,000 documents, the government is now claiming that it is vindicated. Since it now has a majority, the threats of contempt of Parliament that forced action earlier now are gone.

This is a real blow to accountability. There is no doubt in my mind that Colvin was telling the truth and that senior officials were not – indeed, the actions by those individuals and the government were so venomous that they betrayed a guilty mindset determined to cover up the truth.… Read the rest

Afghan detainee issue goes international

This story hardly got any notice when it appeared in The Star almost two weeks ago, when the election was entering its home stretch. But it should have, because there is the potential that elected officials, bureaucrats and soldiers could end up in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The court is getting impatient with Canada’s refusal to investigate allegations that Canadian troops transferred captured Afghanis to Afghan authorities, knowing that they could be tortured as a result.

That would be an offence under the UN Convention Against Torture. Canada is a signatory.

This issue first came to the public’s eye when diplomat Richard Colvin testified to a Parliamentary committee that he had warned senior government officials that torture was routine in Afghani prisons, and that nobody listened. Instead of opening an investigation, the government publicly attacked Colvin and buried all documentation under a pile of red tape – from which it has never emerged.

This should be shocking to Canadians – when an international agency has to do what we should be doing ourselves, it puts us in the company of third world dictatorships. I’m sure it was one of the factors that Global Integrity used in its 2010 downgrade of Canada, too.… Read the rest