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Sunday, 13 December 2009

Pardy Hard on Afghanistan Detainee Issue

An unusually interesting edition of CTV's Question Period today.

Gar Pardy was part of a round table interview on the Afghan detainee issue. Pardy was a career diplomat, retiring from DFAIT as director general of consular affairs.

He had a few interesting points about the relationship between the government and the civil service, those hired to report to and inform to the government. Lately, as in the case of the former head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Linda Keene and diplomat Richard Colvin, when governments don't like what gets reported back they increasingly want to 'out' the civil servant and start chipping at their credibility. This breaks the longstanding unwritten relationship between the service and their political masters.

Colvin, it was noted, wasn't a 'whistle blower' as the media has labelled him. He was the diplomat sent in to replace Glyn Berry who was killed by a car bomb in 2006. His job was to be the eyes and ears of the Kandahar mission and report back what is taking place. On Her Majesty's payroll, he didn't have the choice NOT to appear before the parliamentary committee where the bulk of the details of his memos came to light.

Earlier in the episode Peter Tinsley was interviewed. He is the outgoing chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission, the agency that should be taking care of the detainee issue. He's out the door courtesy of the government and he alleges that head-squashing at commissions and agencies set up to enforce regulations and investigate the breaking of those regulations will send a chill and impact their effectiveness.

The two interviews were a good look at the detainee issue from the people who have had to manage these sorts of issues on a daily basis, with or without the glare of the camera or political masters.

Note: The full version and Pardy interview doesn't appear to be online yet this is the link - it should be up soon.

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