Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cons try to stall committee hearing on Afghan detainees

The Conservatives tried to stall a meeting of the tanding Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, which was holding an investigation into the Afghan detainee scandal. They went on for three hours, and only gave up when reporters entered the room. Hmm, interesting. Stalling the investigation wouldn't look very good to Canadians, eh?

Mike Wallace regaled fellow members of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics with details of the federal Access to Information Act for the duration of his address.

His lengthy discourse in a hot room of Parliament's West Block stalled an opposition motion that the committee examine the editing of documents showing that the Harper government knew prisoners held by Afghan security forces faced the possibility of torture, abuse and extra-judicial killing.

“I think that the Conservatives tried to avoid this motion and they put so much resources and time [into it] that they have something to hide,” said Bloc Québécois MP Carole Lavallée, who put forth the motion.

Pat Martin, a New Democrat from Manitoba, said “it just reconfirms our suspicions that information was redacted to save embarrassment to the government, not for any issues of national security.”

Opposition members are in the majority on the committee. And when Mr. Wallace finally gave the floor over to his colleague David Tilson, the vote was called and it passed handily.

Mr. Wallace denied that his speech was a filibuster, arguing instead that he was merely debating Ms. Lavallée's motion.

“It's an important topic and I think it's important for our committee members to understand what the act says and have a discussion,” he said.