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The Conservative government released 2,600 pages of redacted Afghan detainee documents in March.

Reuters

In a move that was more about recycling than revealing, the Harper government has released another 6,200 censored pages on Canada's handling of detainees - much of it documents previously made public.

The bulk of records tabled in the Commons Thursday have already been released during a court battle by human-rights groups to stop prisoner transfers - or as evidence produced in an ongoing military police inquiry on the subject.

The Tory manoeuvre - designed to answer opposition demands for more details on Canada's behaviour in the Afghanistan war - comes as a confrontation looms that may test the limits of parliamentary privilege. The minority Conservative government also released 2,600 heavily censored pages last week.

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NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar called the government's document dumps "PR exercises" that are designed as a "big diversion to make it appear they are actually complying with Parliament - when in fact they are not."

Dimitri Soudas, chief spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said the government is committed to releasing all records that are "legally available." He noted that a former Supreme Court justice is reviewing the censored parts to see whether their disclosure would comprise a threat to Canada.

"The opposition parties were complaining they weren't getting any information. Now in two consecutive weeks we've released more documents before Parliament," Mr. Soudas said.

The debate over whether Canada turned a blind eye to torture or knowingly handed over captives to maltreatment has transformed into a nasty political battle. The Conservatives refuse to offer an uncensored version of events even in the face of threats to find them in contempt of Parliament. Their rivals say they can be trusted to view the uncensored records in a secure manner.

Opposition parties are threatening to pass a motion declaring Tory cabinet ministers in contempt of Parliament for refusing a rare Commons vote last December that called on them to release uncensored records. Commons Speaker Peter Milliken is preparing to rule on whether such a condemnation is possible.

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