Canadian PM accused of lying about
[PoliticsWatch updated 5:05 p.m. April 25, 2007]
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said Wednesday that Prime Minister
Stephen Harper lied to the House of Commons earlier this week about
the government's knowledge of torture allegations from Afghan
Dion made the comments after the Globe and Mail reported
Wednesday that it obtained an unedited version of a department of
foreign affairs report that suggests the government is aware of
"torture and arbitrary detention" by the Afghanistan
On Tuesday, the prime minister told the House of Commons there was
"no evidence" Afghan detainees' allegations of torture at
the hands of Afghan officials were true. Harper was referring to
specific allegations 30 detainees made in interviews with the
"So far the allegations have not been substantiated," the
PM said Tuesday.
But Dion said Wednesday that the prime minister was not levelling
"Yesterday the prime minister said in the House, 'To date, we have no evidence that supports the allegations.' We know that this was a lie," Dion said in a statement to reporters after the Liberal caucus meeting.
The Liberal leader went further and also accused Defence Minister Gordon
O'Connor and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay of
lying for saying the government had not been informed of abuse of
"There is a disturbing pattern of lies and cover up by the
Conservative government," Dion said.
The attacks on Harper continued in question period on Wednesday
where the Afghan detainee issue dominated debate for the
Dion accused the Conservatives of conducting a cover up and Bloc
Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said the government had told
the House "falsehoods."
Harper denied misleading the House and said the foreign affairs
report that appeared in the Globe "document general
"We have no evidence of specific allegations that appeared this week in the Globe and
Mail. but obviously Mr. Speaker we take any such allegations
seriously," the PM said.
The prime minister was also pressed about whether or not the
government was concealing the foreign affairs document that includes
the torture allegations.
The Globe independently obtained its copy of the report. Previously
foreign affairs denied such a report existed, according to the Globe
story. When a copy finally was released from the department it had
all the negative information, including the torture allegations,
"Who told foreign affairs officials to release only positive sections of this report?"
Dion asked Harper in question period. "Who told them to black out those sections that warned about these potential abuses? Who told officials to deny the very existence of this report on human rights issues in Afghanistan?
Was it the minister of foreign affairs? Was it the minister of
defence? Or was it the prime minister?"
Harper accused Dion of dealing in "conspiracy theories."
"The leader of the Opposition is a former minister of the Crown. He knows what the process
is," he said. "These decisions are made by government lawyers. They do not consult politicians or ministers."
After question period, reporters asked Dion in light of the prime
minister's clarification if he stood behind his earlier statement
that Harper had lied to Parliament.
"Yes, the prime minister organized a process by which
information was not carried to Canadians," Dion said.
"When he said yesterday he had no evidence when their report,
he had in his hands, said this was common practice, it's very
difficult to believe he was frank with the Canadian people."
PoliticsWatch asked Dion if he believed Harper's response that
government lawyers, not politicians, make the decisions about what
gets blacked out from Access to Information releases and whether,
based on his experience in government, political actors could edit
documents before they are released.
Dion did not directly answer the question, but said he wanted to
know who edited out the torture allegations from the foreign affairs
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