Harpers' Week from hell

I’m not trying to fill this blog with material from the NDP, but I thought their compilation of the “week from Hell” for the Conservatives was too good to pass up.


From the NDP:

Afghan detainees: Conservatives deliver chaos, confusion and contradiction

“This is not foreign policy, this is chaos.”
Jack Layton, NDP Leader

The NDP’s calls for Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor to be fired grew louder this week as the Harper government delivered ordinary Canadians a week of chaos, confusion and contradiction.

NDP Leader Jack Layton asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper to respond to allegations that Afghans detained by Canadian troops and handed over to local authorities are being brutally tortured. Did the government know about the allegations? Will they immediately put an end to the transfer of prisoners?

Instead of straight answers, the Harper Conservatives gave ordinary Canadians a day by day patchwork quilt of inventions and fabrications.

When Canadian troops are asked to put their lives on the line, they deserve a clear mandate and a leader who knows what he’s doing – Gordon O’Connor is not that leader.


  • The Globe and Mail details allegations of abuse of 30 detainees, including savage beatings, electrocution and extreme cold
  • Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor calls the report “rumours” and says that the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission is responsible.


  • Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission says it does not have access to most detainees.
  • The government says there are no accurate reports, and that these are Taliban rumours.
  • Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day says prisoners will continue to be handed over to Afghan police, despite the allegations and says humane treatment of prisoners is “a radical thought for a lot of people in that part of the world.”


  • Government report on Afghanistan is released that says torture and extra judicial killings are “routine” – the government attempted to censor the document by blacking out all references to torture.
  • NDP Defence Critic Dawn Black files a formal request with the information commissioner to investigate the government’s denial and censoring of the report.
  • O’Connor stuns Foreign Affairs Committee by announcing that “Within the last few days we basically have made an arrangement with the government in the Kandahar province so that we can have access to our detainees.”
  • Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier say they didn’t know about the agreement.
  • Hillier also contradicts O’Connor’s claim that Defence officials would be responsible for the prison monitoring.


  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper says there is no formal agreement with Afghanistan guaranteeing access to detainees.
  • Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day claims Canadian officials in Kandahar have had access to detainees all along.
  • Afghan human-rights commission says its officials are not allowed to meet with prisoners while in the custody of intelligence officers.
  • Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor is silent.

“What is going on here? Are we seeing fabrication on the fly? Are we seeing serious policy making? Are we seeing responsible government? The fact is, no. We are seeing day by day a patchwork quilt of inventions and fabrications.”
– NDP Leader Jack Layton

Tags: Afghanistan, Defence policy