Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Harper Blows It

First Klein, now McGuinty defies Harper:
Flags at the Ontario legislature will be lowered to half-mast on the days funerals are held for soldiers from the province who are killed in Afghanistan...

While Premier Dalton McGuinty did not criticize Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the decisions, he did say Tuesday that flags at the provincial legislature will be lowered.

"I'll let the federal government make its own decisions in that regard, but the Speaker decided ... that the flags here at Queen's Park would be lowered on the dates of the funerals themselves," McGuinty said.

Apart from showing respect and proper protocol, Harper's misguided decision not to lower the flag is a self-inflicted gaffe. The curious part about the government's decision, lies in the fact that the flag is largely irrelevant to the story. Will the media coverage wane because the flag is high? Will Canadians not feel grief and regret because this symbolism is missing? Harper, the control freak, has effectively out flanked himself with this silly and transparent policy. The man who runs to every military base he can find to look the patriot, is now faced with a public relations nightmare.

Harper made a terrible miscalculation, in not recognizing the obvious bad optics by changing protocol. Nothing to be gained in a practical sense, but lots of potential pitfalls. Now Harper is faced with the embarrassing situation of lowered flags at provincial buildings, while Parliament Hill carries on business as usual. Harper has assured even more media coverage, which is ironic given the initial intention. Another case of the Harper political tin ear rearing its ugly head, no wonder he doesn't like to freelance.

10 comments:

Jo said...

Actually, just read an online interview with Retired General Lewis Mackenzie on the Globe site and apparently, it's NOT proper protocol to lower the flags every time a soldier dies:

In the case of fallen soldiers, the flag is lowered at National Defence Headquarters and at the Canadian Forces Bases where the soldiers were stationed prior to deployment and in the villages, towns and cities where the soldiers had an association at the discretion of the local political leadership.

It was the Liberals who broke protocol when they started lowering the flag for each death, not the Cons by refusing to do so - they're actually respecting protocol. You can read

Steve V said...

jo

I know that thanks. By protocol I meant Harper changing what the Liberals have done since this mission began. Thanks for offering the weak and transparent Tory line to justify a political move.

HearHere said...

Actually the Liberals only lowered the peace tower flag once in a while -there was no protocol. The first time was by Chretien in 2002. Bill Graham himself reverted back to the existing protocol and there was no peace tower flag lowering in November when he was Minister of defence.

NOW Bill Graham is lambasting the Conservatives for continuing with the protocol that HE himself re-instituted.

Something stinks. And the fact that the media is conveniently leaving out this fact and focussing on fiction instead stinks as well.

Scott Tribe said...

The Saskatchewan legislature is also lowering flags in honour of the fallen soldiers.

So, we have a Liberal, Conservative and NDP provincial legislature doing what the Federal Tories apparently feel they cant do.

What concerns me more is the media ban from coverage of the Canadian soldiers coming home. It smells of the Bush/Pentagon effort to minimize coverage so not to lose public support for their war (which hasnt obviously worked judging from the low Bush ratings and increasing disenchantment over Iraq).

Pveezy said...

Jeez... I never realized the Liberal and "progressive" communities cared so much about the well being and honour of our soldiers...

Where were you guys over the last 10 years, when equipment rusted, military housing crumbled, pay and benefits deteriorated, and the forces were chopped down to a shadow of their former selves?

I don't recall a peep from Liberals/NDP/"progressives" back then...

You'd think that substantial matters like that would be more important to people who REALLY care about our soldiers than something symbolic like a flag...

Anonymous said...

I don't recall a peep from Liberals/NDP/"progressives" back then...

Well, while Canada wasn't involved in glorious imperial adventures at that time, all we progressives thought the money would be better spent on health care and schools. Not that the Liberals cared about those, either, but I was bitching about those.

You'd think that substantial matters like that would be more important to people who REALLY care about our soldiers than something symbolic like a flag...

I agree. Too bad Harpie had to go and make an issue out of it and have you Harpie-supporters waste your time defending his stupid gaffe.

Anonymous said...

Jo, yo should read the other article on this where it states that in the last minority govwernment, it was the Conservatives who raised the isuue of respect by lowering the flag. It was voted on with no objection and was a definite decided form of respect to do. Hypricitcal now to do the opposite ..don't you think? Over @ Galloping Beaver has the right idea...wears poppy all year round plus other examples of support I agree with..I take action of very same from herein. Bev in BC

Scotian said...

Hear Here said:

" Actually the Liberals only lowered the peace tower flag once in a while -there was no protocol. The first time was by Chretien in 2002. Bill Graham himself reverted back to the existing protocol and there was no peace tower flag lowering in November when he was Minister of defence.

NOW Bill Graham is lambasting the Conservatives for continuing with the protocol that HE himself re-instituted.

Something stinks. And the fact that the media is conveniently leaving out this fact and focussing on fiction instead stinks as well.

5:22 PM"

I blogged this on April 3 using the Toronto Sun article on it, and I clearly recall them pointing out that the Liberals lowered the flag in every case except last November from when they started doing this, so unless you can cite specific evidence in the public record that shows otherwise then it is you that is acting in a very disturbing manner and not the media. This accusation of media bias is made repeatedly without corroboration, you and many other Conservatives accept it as an article of faith without clear objective evidence actually supporting this claim. Here you rely on it again, yet you provide only your contention this is something they are not reporting on, and assuming the Toronto Sun was correct in it's article there was only one incident while the Libs were in power where they failed to follow this new protocol.

So if anything stinks about this it is your rather shameful attempt to create a media conspiracy defence for Harper without being able to back up any of what you are claiming. I find it very disturbing that so many in the CPC including the leader are so comfortable playing partisan politics with the dead bodies of our fallen military dead. Especially when you consider that the CPC and Harper have ranted for years that the Libs showed nothing but contempt for the military while the CPC had nothing but respect and pride and support for the military. Well actions speak louder than words and I have been absolutely disgusted with the degree of partisan politics Harper is willing to abuse the military and the Afghanistan mission over. From the "cut and run" manufactured opposition in his Afghanistan visit to the flag lowering to this truly unprecedented action Harper has done his best to hide the negative while accentuating the positive about military as it can affect political dynamics for his desired majority next election.

I find your defence of this degree of contempt for the military and honourable service by this PM telling of your placing military issues first and foremost in a partisan light instead of from a truly national perspective. This is done to "protect the privacy of the families", yet the families were never consulted to see whether they wanted this, there was no outcry from families asking for this that I have ever seen, so Harper and the CPC are arrogantly presuming on behalf of families that they never consulted that this unprecedented action is necessary using a reason they have not even bothered to check on prior to taking the decision.

This is a real act of contempt by Harper, contempt to the military and contempt to the Canadian citizen. Harper feels that Canadians if they see the reality of sending our troops into a combat environment/mission they will want to "cut and run". This shows no faith in Canadians supporting a conflict where the cause is honourable, just, and legal. I happen to believe better of my fellow countrymen and women. I believe they can absorb the gritty reality of this so long as the cause if just, and that one of the best ways to create suspicion and distrust will be by editing out the harsher parts of reality like returning bodies. Incidentally, we only started repatriating bodies well after WWII so these ceremonies and the flag lowering issue are inapplicable, another fact conveniently being ignored by Conservatives.

The contempt for the military should be obvious, that we are ashamed and unwilling to face the costs of our support of sending them into harm's way. That we would rather be kept in the dark than recognize the sacrifices our soldiers face in our name. This move of Harper's and the defences I have seen today from many in the Conservative world sickens me. I am seeing that for too many of these people the military is a useful partisan weapon to them more than an institution of honour and integrity that deserves not being abused as a partisan football by a minority government whose sole interest for this session by their leader's own admission is to get a majority government in the next election. If people think I sound rather pissed about all of this, you are not only correct you aren't even seeing the half of it. I believe in civility in online exchanges, otherwise the degree of anger, contempt and disgust would be far more intense than it already is.

Steve V said...

Scott's point about three different party run legislatures all recognizing the same need for "protocol" shows Harper is the one politicizing the issue. Something smells alright and it's quite transparent.

scotian

Well said, as always.

Anonymous said...

A Liberal putting "contempt for the military" and "Harper" in the same sentence is like Hitler complaining about Stalin's anti-Semitism.