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NDP MP Paul Dewar listens to a question during an Ottawa news conference on Feb.11, 2009. (The Canadian Press)
NDP MP Paul Dewar listens to a question during an Ottawa news conference on Feb.11, 2009. (The Canadian Press)

Rights-agency chairman skips testimony Add to ...

A New Democrat MP wants to issue subpoenas to witnesses if the government-appointed directors of Rights & Democracy keep failing to appear at a parliamentary committee.

Paul Dewar is incensed that Aurel Braun, the chairman of the board at the troubled arms-length agency, has backed out of testifying before the Foreign Affairs committee for a second consecutive week.

The committee is attempting to investigate the turmoil that's embroiled the democracy-promoting agency and attracted international criticism, but opposition members have been thwarted by Conservative stalling tactics.

Last week, a Tory MP filibustered to keep the opposition majority on the committee from approving a witness list that included the aggrieved widow of past agency president Rémy Beauregard and three senior employees who were recently fired.

Since then, Conservative cabinet minister John Baird has told the House of Commons that MPs should "put aside partisan bickering" and allow Mr. Beauregard's widow, Suzanne Trépanier, to testify.

The opposition remains deeply skeptical of Conservative good faith and Mr. Dewar says both Mr. Braun, the agency chairman, and Rights & Democracy's acting president Jacques Gauthier are answerable to Parliament and should be prepared to testify without delay.

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