Ignatieff demands detainee documents

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says the federal government must produce documents on Afghan detainees, but wouldn’t indicate what he’ll do if the Tories keep dragging their feet.

HALIFAX — Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says the federal government must produce documents on Afghan detainees, but wouldn’t indicate what he’ll do if the Tories keep dragging their feet.

Ignatieff, speaking in Halifax on Saturday, said a meeting set for Monday might reveal whether a deal can be reached to release records on the transfer of detainees from the Canadian military to Afghan authorities.

“We’re kind of running the clock here and there’s a question as to whether the government’s ragging the puck,” he said.

“There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t get an agreement. I’m optimistic we can, but it’s getting a bit late.”

The NDP and the Bloc have threatened to hold up millions in federal cash needed to pay for the G8 and G20 summits if the Conservatives don’t release the documents.

They said Friday they are prepared to forge ahead Monday or Tuesday with a process that could tie up the House of Commons and all its work until it rises for the summer.

Ignatieff didn’t rule out that option, but said he’ll wait to see what happens Monday.

“I’m not saying what I will or will not do,” he said.

“What other parties threaten is their business…We’re looking for a constructive solution on Monday.”

The documents relate to allegations that prisoners were tortured after they were turned over to Afghan authorities by the Canadian Forces.

Ignatieff said an agreement in principle would see the uncensored documents vetted by an all-party committee to protect national security interests.

Despite that, the NDP and Bloc Quebecois said they are losing hope that the four federal parties will come to an agreement on the records.

Without a deal, those two parties say they are prepared to forge ahead Monday or Tuesday with a process that could tie up the House of Commons and all its work until it rises for the summer.

The parties could hold up an important vote on government’s main spending estimates, money that goes toward paying important budgetary items, including the G8 and G20.

House Speaker Peter Milliken ruled last month that Parliament has a right to see the classified documents, but told the parties to work together to find a compromise that would satisfy the government’s national-security concerns.

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