*** We need an office for national security accountability to put an end to these shananigans. MS ***
Canada's political parties were granted more time Tuesday to resolve an impasse over the release of sensitive Afghan war documents that risks triggering constitutional turmoil.
House Speaker Peter Milliken last month gave the Conservative minority government and opposition parties two more weeks to agree to terms for releasing the top secret documents.
The documents are believed to contain evidence that Canada transferred prisoners to Afghan custody knowing they could be tortured, in violation of Canadian and international law.
Milliken warned if the deadline was not met he would find the government in contempt of parliament, which could force snap elections.
Moments before the deadline lapsed on Tuesday, Milliken agreed to an all-party request for an extension to Friday that came from government House leader Jay Hill, his spokeswoman Heather Bradley told AFP.
Earlier, negotiators emerged from last-minute talks to tell reporters they needed more time.
"Talks are progressing and I'm optimistic," Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said.
Opposition Liberal MP Ralph Goodale said "all parties are of the same mind at this point," but were struggling with a few complex and "extremely sensitive" issues.
"We've arrived at a point where we think some additional time is both necessary and appropriate and could be productively used," he said.
The standoff started after the lower House of Commons passed a motion in December ordering the government to produce the files.
But the government refused, citing national security concerns, and instead produced tens of thousands of heavily redacted pages.
"It is no exaggeration to say that it is a rare event for the speaker to be seized of a matter as complex and as heavy with consequence as the matter before us now," Milliken said two weeks ago.
Milliken encouraged both sides "to put in place a mechanism by which these documents could be made available to the House without compromising the security and confidentiality of the information they contain."