Newspaper article The Canadian Press

MPs Duck Bid to Fight Intimidation of Soldier Threatened with Discharge

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

MPs Duck Bid to Fight Intimidation of Soldier Threatened with Discharge

Article excerpt

MPs decline to fight soldier intimidation

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OTTAWA - An attempt to hold military officers to account for allegedly trying to intimidate an injured Canadian soldier into toning down his testimony before a parliamentary committee has been smothered behind closed doors.

The House of Commons defence committee met for almost an hour out of the public eye on Wednesday to deal with a motion by Liberal MP John McKay over the case of Cpl. Glen Kirkland.

Following the meeting, the only thing McKay and New Democrat defence critic Jack Harris would say was that the motion, which called on the committee to ask the Commons to investigate the alleged intimidation, no longer existed.

Neither of them were allowed to say whether the motion had been voted down or withdrawn because proceedings that happen behind closed doors are to remain secret.

Kirkland, who was severely wounded in Kandahar five years ago, testified last week that he was told to "not speak about certain things."

He even claimed in a broadcast interview that he was threatened with a dishonourable discharge -- something McKay described as attempted witness tampering.

Conservative MPs, who form a majority on the committee, used their numbers to force the closed-door session, which have become more and more common around Parliament, even on routine matters.

"Witness tampering is a serious offence," said McKay. "By instructing Cpl. Kirkland to stay 'within his arcs' his commanding officers were instructing him to withhold information from the committee, making it virtually impossible for parliamentarians to understand the issues that ill and injured members of the Canadian Forces face."

The Canadian military claims it was only offering communications guidance when it issued those instructions, but both Opposition parties say they look at it as an attempt to stifle the flow of information, particularly the kind that embarrasses the government. …

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