Opposition leader Jack Layton has accused the Harper government of taking a “very cynical” approach in its release of documents on the Afghan detainee file. The release of 4000 pages worth of documents came just as MPs are gearing down for summer recess. “[The Government] chose a date that will prevent parliamentarians from asking questions in the House of Commons. It’s just one day before our work here must end,” Layton said (Colin Horgan, “Set for the Afghan detainee doc dump?,” Ipolitics.ca, 21 June 2011, and Sonya Bell, “If 4,000 pages fall in the summer, do they make a sound?,” Ipolitics.ca, 22 June 2011).
Last year then-Speaker Peter Milliken ruled that withholding the documents breached parliamentary privilege and asked the parties to come up with a solution. A secretive committee of selected MPs began examining the documents, but the NDP boycotted the process because of concerns about the limitations applied to it.
After Tuesday’s Question Period, NDP National Defence critic Jack Harris told reporters that the timing of the release was “obviously designed to keep this sunk below the level of public discourse…. They really don’t want a full objective public inquiry.”
Calls for a public inquiry remain unanswered.