The Peter MacKay resignation watch is now officially on in Ottawa. Or at least it should be.
Wednesday was already shaping up to be, as the Globe and Mail put it, 'Peter MacKay's very bad day,' with he and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon scheduled to appear before the special parliamentary committee on Afghanistan. But things went from bad to worse for MacKay with news that the country's top military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, had made a 180-degree reversal. CTV news reports:
"The move is akin to a political thundercloud breaking over the Conservative party...
During a hastily-called news conference, Gen. Walter Natynczyk said he received new information Wednesday about an incident in June 2006 when an Afghan detainee was transferred to Afghan police, then beaten. One day earlier he testified that the man had only been questioned by Canadian troops, not detained.
The change in stance contradicts the Conservative government's position that there is no evidence Canadian-captured detainees were being abused prior to a new transfer agreement in 2007.
It also contradicts what Natynczyk has been saying since May 2007 about the incident.
Natynczyk said he received the field report on the actual incident only Wednesday and decided to hold a news conference as soon as the information was in his possession, in order to correct his earlier statements.
'Yesterday, just like in May '07. I provided the best information that was available to me,' he told reporters. 'And the moment I saw this report this morning, I realized it was wrong, or the information I provided yesterday was incorrect, and I'm responsible for that.'
Natynczyk said he will be looking into why it took so long before the correct information arrived on his desk."
Make that at least two resignations that should result from this torture scandal. (For now, though, the General's reversal puts MacKay in the political opposition's crosshairs. But at least your dog will always remain loyal, right Peter?)
Heading into 2010, a new parliamentary debate about Canada's role in the occupation of Afghanistan is urgently needed. In addition to what we now know about the Harper government's complicity in torture, a lot has happened since the March 2008 Conservative-Liberal extension of the deployment.
In the last couple months alone, we have seen a blatantly fraudulent "re-election" of the Karzai regime, revelations that the corrupt President's brother, Wali Karzai -- the most powerful man in Kandahar Province -- has been on the CIA payroll for years, and now a massive escalation of the war by the Obama administration. Perhaps the real scandal is that none of these outrages has sparked a serious, wide-ranging debate about this country's participation in the NATO occupation.
Update: The Globe and Mail reports, of Prime Minister Harper in Question Period, "Not once did he mention or say a kind word about his Defence Minister." This in response to calls from all three opposition parties for MacKay's resignation. It looks like Harper's getting ready to throw his Defence Minister under the bus. But especially under this control freak/micro-managing regime of Harper, the real responsibility for the obfuscation and cover-up of this torture scandal lies with the PMO.