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Ottawa braces for Afghan detainee document dump

Soldiers supervise a detainee during Operation Medusa in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

Les Perreaux/Canadian Press

The Conservative government could disclose reams of declassified records as early as Wednesday about the treatment of Afghan detainees.

Alleged abuse of prisoners - and what the federal government may have known about it - has dogged the Conservatives for years.

The government's initial refusal to disclose thousands of pages of Foreign Affairs and Defence Department reports prompted a parliamentary crisis in December 2009.

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It was resolved with the formation of a committee last July comprised of two former Supreme Court justices and an ad-hoc committee of MPs.

They examined more than 40,000 documents to determine which documents could be released without endangering national security.

During the recent federal election, the Conservatives joined other parties in calling for disclosure of the first batch of records, saying they would do "whatever it takes" to make it happen.

But Alberta Tory Laurie Hawn later backpedalled, saying "there is no specific process" to make the documents public during an election campaign.

The committee of MPs has not been reconstituted, and Mr. Hawn did not respond to inquiries Tuesday.

But one source said Foreign Affairs was preparing to release records Wednesday.

The NDP never had faith in the process and refused to take part in the committee.

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New Democrat MP Jack Harris said Tuesday the government had "created a black hole here for over a year."

"We expected that these documents would be flowing as early as last July and of course we've seen nothing."

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