Building human rights in Afghanistan takes time: MacKay

Tessa Holloway
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Defense Minister Peter MacKay said Canada is “trying to change the culture” in Afghanistan when he dropped into Prince Albert.

On his way into an unofficial Conservative Party meet and greet event for local party members at the Rawlinson Centre on Saturday, MacKay stopped to briefly speak to media regarding the allegations of torture of Afghan prisoners handed over to Afghan officials after being arrested by Canadian soldiers.

When asked why it took more than a year to act on allegations of torture by Richard Colvin, a senior diplomat who testified last month he began warning the government of the torture in Afghanistan in May, 2006, he said the government moved as fast as they could.

“We acted almost immediately. In fact, upon taking government it became quite clear there were deficiencies in the arrangement of how we transfer detainees,” he said. "It takes time.”

Yet it wasn’t until May 3, 2007 that the new transfer agreement between Canada and Afghanistan was signed to allow Canadian forces to monitor the treatment of detainees in case of torture, about one year after Colvin first raised the allegations of torture.

MacKay was in Prince Albert following a tour of Canadian Forces bases in Saskatchewan, starting in Moose Jaw, where he flew with the Canadian snowbirds.

On Saturday he attended a change of command ceremony for the Royal Regina Rifles in Saskatoon, where he also met with soldiers from the North Saskatchewan Regiment as well as sea cadets and reservists.

For more information see Monday's edition of the Daily Herald.

Also check back to www.paherald.sk.ca on Monday for video of the interview.

Organizations: Conservative Party, Rawlinson Centre, Canadian Forces Daily Herald

Geographic location: Afghanistan, Canada, Saskatchewan Moose Jaw Saskatoon

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Recent comments

  • Dennis
    December 07, 2009 - 15:44

    Since this meeting was for members of Cons. Party of Canada only, I hope this trip was paid for by the party and not the taxpayer.

  • Elmer Mackay
    December 05, 2009 - 19:38

    Peter Mackay's credibility is at an all-time low. Time for him to do the decent thing and resign, but of course this wee lad wouldn't know decent if it walked up to him and said "howdy". So instead we'll have to wait a few years until he is run out of office.