Mr. Coderre has tried for two months to secure government permission to make a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan ahead of Parliament's return in two weeks. Liberal leader Stephane Dion has his application in the system for a visit in November.
But Mr. Coderre was stonewalled and his calls to the Defence Minister unreturned until he was finally told to buy his own ticket and catch a commercial flight.
Why not, he decided. Mr. Coderre's solo adventure started on Thursday, although he called from London to say he'd been officially warned the military base is off limits and that he will be denied protection by the troops.
The official line from a National Defence flack is that members of an all-party defence committee have already voted to visit Kandahar. Once the committee gathers anew in the next parliamentary sitting, a trip will be organized. Eventually. But Mr. Coderre suspects -- probably correctly -- that he's being shunted aside for political reasons lest his trek be wrapped up in time to launch an informed attack on the government. As proof the government is being selective in helping MPs, he points out that Foreign Affairs offered to assist him during a sidetrip to Pakistan.
But it will be very dangerous outside the base and the optics of Mr. Coderre getting hurt or worse for the want of a military babysitter would make the partisan protectionism of the Conservatives appear unforgivably petty.
Lest we forget, Canada's enemy in Afghanistan are extremists trying to stifle free speech and deny women basic human rights -- not Liberals trying to have an informed debate
What if Coderre is injured? I doubt MacKay's pathetic spin will hold water:
"Mr. Coderre is engaged, in my view, in a dangerous and elaborate stunt, a publicity stunt on his part," MacKay said, arguing that troops in Afghanistan could be put in unnecessary danger if Coderre were kidnapped and they had to try to save him.
"It's irresponsible. It puts people at risk. It puts soldiers at risk."
You force Coderre to visit Afghanistan in this manner, then you lament the fact he is endangering himself and others. If the concern is real, then why is Coderre shunned, why can't MacKay answer the phone? Seems to me, if you are truly worried about putting soldiers and people at risk, you do everything to avoid that scenario. Instead, the government reacts by ignoring the repeated requests, all within the frame of internal political dynamics.
The government should do everything in can to give Coderre a detailed look at whatever he requires on the ground. Conservatives often argue the fact that Canadians can't see what is really happening on scene, and if that reality was expressed more, their apprehensions would ease. The simple reality, you need the Liberals on side if you want to extend the mission, future majority aside. To shun Coderre tells us all that you were never serious about "consensus", it is just a convienient stalling tactic.
The government is taking a huge gamble, because if something goes awry with Coderre's trip, the responsibility lies with this gang of small men. Personal opinions of Coderre aside, you access the risks and act accordingly, to ensure that Coderre isn't kidnapped or worse. The scenario that is being played out, is entirely of the government's choosing, and they bare full responsibility if something happens.