Monday, July 02, 2007

Harper: "That's Not Fair"

Apparently, in the mind of Stephen Harper, the opposition's role in our parliamentary system is to merely support all government actions, with any dissent tantamount to treason. If, you question policy, point to problems or mismanagement, ask for clarification, express concern, offer an alternative, then "that's not fair":

So, you still support the mission?

"I've made no secret of it, I strongly support the mission and I strongly support the troops. I don't like the fact that he opposition continues to attack the mission while the troops are in the field. That's not fair. But, when we will get to 2009 we have to present to Parliament some options and we are going to need, obviously, some support from the opposition parties if we want to start a new mission after 2009. We need that support, we need the public, and the Parliament behind men and women when we send them into dangerous missions. No, I don't believe it is a change, I think it's only dawning on everyone."

There are serious problems with this mission, and it is the duty of the opposition to highlight them and press the government. Speaking of fairness, it is fair for the government to always paint the most rosy of pictures? If you limit yourself to government commentary, you would be under the impression that Afghanistan is a complete success story. Is that a "fair" representation to sell to the Canadian people?

What is particularly offensive, Harper equates criticism with undermining the troops. If that is true, then Canadians don't support the troops, because a majority don't believe the mission will achieve the objectives. Harper offers a copout defense, which masks his own inability to "sell" the mission to Canadians. Criticism is a given in our system, success or failure depends on the response. Is it the opposition's fault that a one day story on torture turned into a maelstorm because of the Conservative government baffling incompetence and conflicting signals?

Harper's whining about "fairness" is a sorry attempt to shift responsibility and play wedge politics. Should we expect anything less?

11 comments:

burlivespipe said...

Unfortunately I wasn't able to access the Hill-Times story, but as you've adroitly noted, this is the playlist that Harpor seems to sing from when in Government - any questions or opposition of the gov't's handling is a criticsm of the troops. We know where that's come from, and since a majority of Canadians look southward with a skeptical eye, it's strange he's sticking to it.
YOu could easily tear out any page in hansard where Harpor was doing the work of an opposition leader (not that remarkably, though) and say exactly the same thing. Guess we should blame the Liberal gov't of the day for not ramping up the jingoistic jargon to tar the role of the opposition with 'terrorist supporting/bureaucratic undermining etc'.
Apparently,he's only willing to use half his ass when it comes to following the suggestions of 'softening that hard edge.'
Guess that leaves little ass to finish the ol' hockey book. Get out the ghost writer!

Steve V said...

"YOu could easily tear out any page in hansard where Harpor was doing the work of an opposition leader"

What about the blatant attempt to undermine a majority government on Iraq?

"We know where that's come from, and since a majority of Canadians look southward with a skeptical eye, it's strange he's sticking to it."

It doesn't say much about Harper's political instincts that he adopts the language of the most unpopular administration in American history.

knb said...

But, when we will get to 2009 we have to present to Parliament some options and we are going to need, obviously, some support from the opposition parties if we want to start a new mission after 2009.

Huh? He is going to wait until 2009 to raise this issue in the House? I thought O'Connor had said that they would begin discussing options in 2008, (not that you can trust what he says).

If that is his plan, he's playing a dagerous game. He has been saying that there would be time for debate and a vote. How can that happen in earnest, in 2009, if we're due to end the mission in February? Is he going to give NATO 4 weeks notice?

Something is fishy here.

Steve V said...

Knb, if we don't have to discuss 2009 soon, why then is the NATO leadership already coming to Canada to push for an extension?

Interesting quotes from Harper that highlight the changing rhetoric. Don't care about the polls? Uh huh.

Olaf said...

Steve,

As much as it pains me to agree with you :), I'm in full agreement what you've said here, and Harper's continued effort to equate supporting the troops with supporting the war is exceedingly frustrating.

As you've pointed out, it is only through frank and open criticism on the war that will lead to its continued legitimacy and hopefully, revisions of government policy where necessary.

I believe in the mission, which is why I welcome criticism: because I think it can withstand it. Further, I think that specific criticism generally improves things: if someone points out a flaw in the current strategy, then it can be rectified, improving the mission thereby to the benefit of Afghans and our troops. If the criticism is invalid, based solely on partisanship or exaggeration or anti-Americanism or whatever, I am confident it can be reasonably rejected by intelligent citizens.

Steve V said...

olaf

A concrete example of criticism actually helping might be the training of security forces. While we still see paltry relative expenditure, there has been a move recently towards training the homegrown police and military forces. This shift could be coincidence, but it comes hand and hand with the same criticism along those lines.

Woman at Mile 0 said...

I am horrified by the increasing number of civilian deaths. What are they thinking? They will never win the people over that way.

Two car bombs are found before they explore in London and we here about it non-stop for days while the increasing numbers of innocent civilians dying as a results of our NATO attacks in Afghanistan gets barely a mention.

Olaf said...

Steve,

A concrete example of criticism actually helping might be the training of security forces.

Indeed, and the same thought came to my mind. I'm not sure if you read the piece in the NaPo a few weeks ago, but it was by an American soldier who had been sent to Afghanistan on a number of occasions, and made the exact same point that you have been making for a number of months: simply, that adequate (and thus massively increased) funding for security forces is essential to the success of the mission. Curiously, no one thought it appropriate to accuse him of undermining the mission.

Steve V said...

"I am horrified by the increasing number of civilian deaths. What are they thinking?"

If you graphed the amount of air ordinance delivered since the beginning of this campaign, you would see a rising curve. There seems to be a growing preference for long distance engagement, the theory being less coalition casualties. The problem, increased civilian casualties, which completely undermine any goodwill that building a school or well achieves. It's a losing strategy for sure, particularly against an enemy that doesn't mass in large numbers and easily disappears.

Anonymous said...

Simpletons...

Mr. Harper has agreed to get consensus...afraid people may agree???

Or are the people only right if they agree with your narrow point of view?

burlivespipe said...

Hey anonymoose,
to date, 'consensus' from this PM has meant - my way or the highway. That's from inside party and outside. His perfect rhetoric 'you're with us or against us' kind of jingoism really isn't aimed at 'consensus' neither is being a rabid pitbull (or a rancid skunk, which ever fits)... He's only about scoring political points, reading off his teleprompter how he can take a punch. Your leader may be a dweeb, but if he really wanted to build consensus with all parties he'd stop assailing them on the very issues he's 'trying' to connect with.
But hey, how's that minister of Public Works, ie the senator who slept a lot, working for you?