This blog post is to remind readers of a very important parliamentary petition, Petition e-608 (Access to Information), which has just surpassed the 500 signatures required to trigger a formal, written, and public response by the government.
This petition is an attempt to stop the government from censoring documents sent to an important review body, the Military Police Complaints Commission, in the course of a new investigation of alleged abuses in Afghanistan:
Some Canadian military police officers allege Afghan detainees were abused in their cells in Kandahar during surprise raids by Canadian guards in 2010 and 2011. Officers have also recently raised concerns that many Afghans taken prisoner by Canadian troops were innocent farmers or workers and not members of the Taliban or al-Qaida. (David Pugliese, Military police gears up for investigation of alleged detainee abuse in Afghanistan, National Post, 4 August 2016).
Law professor and former NDP MP Craig Scott is a prime impetus behind the petition. He writes on his Facebook page:
The petition may seem ‘technical’ but it is crucial because it calls on PM Trudeau not to follow the same path as PM Harper to block an independent tribunal — the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) — from seeing uncensored evidence relevant to torture and other forms of abuse.
Without the change in rules called for in petition e-608, Department of Justice lawyers under a Liberal government are still free to do exactly what they did under the Harper regime: withhold evidence at every turn.
Accordingly, the petition states:
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to reject the approach of previous governments and, accordingly, to exercise its authority under section 38.01(8) of the Canada Evidence Act to designate the Military Police Complaints Commission as one of the bodies permitted unfettered access to documents.
Here is the link to the full petition: Petition e-608 (Access to Information).
Please help out. The greater the number of signatures, the greater the impact. With one click, you can help convince Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to act in accordance with fundamental precepts of justice and the rule of law.
Photo credit: Craig Scott