Scott Tribe has already made a pair of very thoughtful posts on the cessation of prisoner transfers to Afghan authorities. I think that his central assessment of this is correct, that Harper was making a political move more than anything. This is another piece of evidence that Harper has one priority – partisan gain.
How damaging were the stories of Canada turning over Afghans to be tortured? The culture of Afghanistan appears to have, among other elements, a sense of family and clan honour that appears to require that scores be settled. If Afghans thought that Canada was handing over their countrymen to be tortured, how many of them were inspired to give aid and comfort to the Taliban? What if we had loudly said, as soon as the issue came up, that ill-treatment was unacceptable, that prisoners dying in captivity was unacceptable, and that we would not be party to any such thing?
The problem though is that Stephen Harper is a man of priorities – and priority number one is partisan victory.