Monday, December 14, 2009

The Afghan torture scandal -- the plot thickens

Looks like another confidence vote could be in the works:

OTTAWA -- MPs headed off for their Christmas break Friday discussing the unmerry possibil­ities of everything from a court battle to a confidence vote that could bring down the Conservative government over the Afghan detainee issue.

The House of Commons adjourned late Thursday leaving a political cliff­hanger. The opposition parties voted to force the government to release all documents related to the detainees file -- uncensored -- to a parliament­ary committee. The parliamentary law clerk backed up the move, underlining the primacy of the chamber over laws passed by the government.

But a string of cabinet ministers dismissed the parliamentary motion, saying laws governing the classifica­tion of certain documents will govern their release. "We follow the law and the law is very clear that if there are elements of security, elements that could affect the security of our sol­diers or civilians, then information will be protected," Trade Minister Stockwell Day said Friday.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson add­ed: "Officials have and will continue to provide all legally available infor­mation, and officials are following the laws that Parliament has passed."

It leaves the country potentially in the grips of another constitutional melee over which body should reign: Parliament or the government.

One NDP source said the Commons might be forced to rule the govern­ment in contempt of Parliament, which would eventually entail a con­fidence vote.

From the Winnipeg Free Press.