Michael Ignatieff and his Liberals are renewing their calls for a public inquiry into the Afghan detainee affair, charging that Stephen Harper's Conservatives are trying to hide the truth from Canadians.
"The government's record on this lacks all credibility," the Liberal Leader said as he led off a particularly spicy Question Period today.
"It shut down the House to avoid questions on this subject. … Now it has asked [Mr. Justice Frank Iacobucci]to decide what evidence Parliament should and should not see, but how can he do his job properly?"
Mr. Ignatieff was referring to the Conservative proposal last week to have the former Supreme Court justice review disputed secret documents.
Parliament has asked the government to provide the heavily redacted documents concerning the alleged torture of Afghan prisoners. So far its requests have been rebuffed.
It is now up to the Judge Iacobucci to decide whether the documents can be released. When his report will be delivered and made public and what exactly his mandate is has not been revealed, provoking criticism from the opposition.
For the most part today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper dodged the questions. He said Judge Iacobucci will have "access to all documents."
But the Liberals wouldn't give up.
After Mr. Ignatieff, Liberal Defence critic Ujjal Dosanjh referred to a recent CBC report saying the government "ordered the transfer of detainees to the notorious Afghan NDS for the purposes of extracting additional information."
Mr. Dosanjh asked: "My question is, did this government conduct the policy of rendition?"
He was referring to a policy used in the United States of shipping suspects to foreign jails to face tough interrogation and likely torture.
"Allegations as serious as rendition require more than just vetting of documents," the B.C. MP said. "They require a full and transparent public inquiry to look at all the facts."
The Prime Minister merely repeated his promise to allow Justice Iacobucci to review all documents.
The Afghan detainee issue was only one part of what was 45-minute session that was particularly raucous, especially for a Monday afternoon. Words like "racist," "reactionary" and "un-Canadian" were being thrown around.
There were accusations about Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's use of a government jet to travel to London, Ont., for a post-budget photo-op at a Tim Hortons. The NDP wondered how he could take a private jet when he was trying to preach austerity.
"Can the Minister of Transport tell us how many Transport Canada flights there are per week between Ottawa and London, Ontario, where can the public buy their tickets, and how much do they cost?" NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair asked.
Transport Minister John Baird replied: "Frankly, I would like to ask what he has against Tim Hortons. That is just un-Canadian."
Mr. Baird added that there are strict rules governing the use of government planes - and they can only be used when no commercial flights exist. Mr. Flaherty broke no rules, he added.
"I am very pleased to inform the member opposite that the use of government aircraft due to these types of circumstances is down by almost two-thirds since this government was elected," Mr. Baird huffed.
There were questions from both the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals about the appointment of former Canadian Alliance candidate Gerard Latulippe to head the Montreal-based federal agency, Rights & Democracy.
Mr. Latulippe has made what the opposition consider racist statements about Muslim immigration to Quebec. But asked by Liberal MP Marlene Jennings if he agreed with Mr. Latulippe's statements, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon tried to turn the tables.
He quoted a former NDP strategist, Les Campbell, who is now with a human rights group in the United States, stating that Mr. Latulippe is well-qualified for the job.
And there were demands from Nova Scotia Liberal MP Scott Brison about a new citizenship guide that makes no mention of same-sex marriage.
He characterized the Prime Minister's Office as "socially regressive" for allowing mention of same-sex marriage and other equality issues to be cut from the guide, which is used by new Canadians taking the citizenship test.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he accepted full responsibility for the document and then he got his digs in at the Liberals.
"It even recognizes, unlike the Liberal guide, that 110,000 Canadians gave their lives in the two world wars. It even talks about Remembrance Day, something that was censored out of the Liberal guide."
(Photos: Chris Wattie/Reuters and Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)