MacKay accuses Graham of
"feigned indignation" over Guantanamo
[PoliticsWatch updated 5:45 p.m., February 1, 2007]
|A U.S. flag waves at the U.S. facility in
OTTAWA — Foreign
Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said Thursday it's "a bit
rich" that former Liberal foreign affairs minister Bill Graham
is now pressing the government to have the U.S. close the Guantanamo
Bay detention facility.
MacKay made the comments in response to a question from
Graham during question period.
On Thursday, Graham and five other former Canadian foreign affairs
ministers signed a joint letter published in a newspaper that
accuses the U.S. of "flagrantly" violating human rights
and undermining the rule of law at the detention centre.
The strongly-worded letter also seems to question the legitimacy of
the war on terror, as the phrase is placed in quotation marks in the
"We urge Prime Minister Stephen Harper to speak
up," the letter states. "He must press the U.S. government to deal with Guantanamo detainees, and all other detainees held in the
'war on terror,' in a manner consistent with international human-rights standards."
"It is now time for the Canadian government to speak out against the disgraceful abuse of human dignity and justice at
The letter is signed by Graham and former Liberal foreign affairs
ministers John Manley, Pierre Pettigrew, Lloyd
Axworthy and former PC foreign affairs ministers Joe Clark
and Flora MacDonald.
Guantanamo was opened by the U.S. in 2002 to hold enemy combatants
and Al-Qaeda terrorists captured in Afghanistan and around the
world. Graham and Pettigrew were foreign affairs minister during
four of the five years the facility has been open.
In question period, Graham accused the current Tory government
allowing "perennial fear of offending the Bush administration" to prevent it
calling on the U.S. to close Guantanamo.
"The feigned indignation coming from the former foreign affairs minister, to stand and give us a lecture when we could easily turn the question back to
him," MacKay said in response to Graham in the House.
"This file did not just start when we took office. (Graham) has as much to answer for as anyone in posing those questions."
Later, MacKay told reporters the government has in the past raised concerns about the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and
demanded they must treated in accordance with international
standards for prisoners.
"We've been given assurances that all these humanitarian standards have been met. If there
is evidence to the contrary, we would ask for it to be brought forward."
An estimated 435 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, including one
Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr.
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