Saturday, October 06, 2007


It really is irrelevant if Denis Coderre is a publicity hound, or hated within Conservative circles, the fact of the matter, he is the Defence Critic for the Official Opposition. If, we take Stephen Harper at his word, the future of Canada's role in Afghanistan will be based on "reaching consensus". Contrast that rhetoric with the pitiful reaction to Coderre's trip and you see the true colors in full regalia. So petty:
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.


Anonymous said...

What if Maxime Bernier or Bev Oda are kidnapped over there?

Mackay is a f****king hypocrite!!

Steve V said...

"Contrast Denis Coderre's expected cold-shoulder unwelcome with the red-carpeted runway greeting for Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, who will land in Kandahar in the next few days if he's not there already."

Anonymous said...

He could have been allowed to go over with Bernier and Oda - what are they hiding?

Anonymous said...

The politics of this is quite comical on both sides. Coderre acts like this is the first time that anyone in opposition was ever rejected (or not given permission) to accompany the government on a fact finding mission in Afghanistan. Give me a break. His government back in 2001 did not give permission to Cheryl Gallant to accompany a group of MPs to Afghanistan.

On the flip side, this is not the first time an oppostion member (or members) have gone to Afghanistan since 911 without the permission of parliament. In 2001, a group of MPs sponsored by Samaritan's Purse entered the hot zone to see how the humanitarian effort was fairing firsthand (Operation Christmas Child boxes).

ottlib said...

"That is the greatest distinction of the man. Everything for him is a political calculation, with the benefits to Canadians being far down on the list of priorities."

Sorry to post the same thing in two comments Steve but the above statement, by me from another string, applies here.

That is what is at the heart of this matter. With their own folks going their they can control the message but with an opposition fellow going they lose control.

As the Conservatives have demonstrated many times they do not want to debate they want to dictate. That is more easily facilitated if you have control of the information necessary to have a debate.

So, this crew has placed partisan political considerations above the safety of a fellow Parliamentarian.

As you say, small, and I would add outrageous.

Steve V said...

"On the flip side, this is not the first time an oppostion member (or members) have gone to Afghanistan since 911 without the permission of parliament."

Irrelevant. Coderre sought permission, and wanted to tour the base.

The dodge and weave is what's comical.

Steve V said...


You can copy and paste that comment to every discussion of the government :)

Anonymous said...

Cheryl Gallant? Now I understand why. This lady is as flaky as they come and she'd be more than willing to lie for Harper.

900ft Jesus said...

the getting hurt argument doesn't hold water. Oda is in Afghanistan right now.


This is Stevie trying to control the message and use the The Mission™ as his own "rah rah" cheer us on event.

Karen said...

His government back in 2001 did not give permission to Cheryl Gallant to accompany a group of MPs to Afghanistan.

Remind me again when she became the Defense critic?

wilson said...

Bernie and Oda went to KABUL to meet with Karzai.
They only today went to Kandahar, and just for the day.
It's beyond stupid to think the Government should make their plans around a Liberal publicity hound.

Wasn't Coderre the jerk that called Hillier a 'Conservative Prop'? And didn't he also march with Hamas?

Tell me again why it was so urgent for him to go to Afghan that he couldn't wait and accompany Dion in November.

Karen said...

Spreading your nonsense around I see wilson.

His aim was to give Dion info, before he travelled there. Seems reasonable to me.

Your almighty leader wouldn't do that of course. The only person he listens to is himself s we all know. I can see him flicking advisors away who offer to lay some groundwork, like flies.

Are they only there for the day? Headlines are suggesting that they are there to celebrate Thanksgiving with the troops. Hmmm, who did that not too long ago? Wait for pic's of Bernie, (as you called him, lol) and Oda serving turkey and pouring gravy.

wilson, they have blown this one big time. What you guy's fail to realise is how Canadians rally to underdogs and cut down tall poppies. Pun very much intended.

Tomm said...


This sort of petty vindictiveness is not something to be admired in the present government.

You are correct in saying that regardless what they thought personnally of Mr. Coderre, unless he has a history of breaching public confidence, there is an obligation for reasonable accommodation. I do not think he recieved that here.


Steve V said...


What a pathetic rationalization.


Reasonable accomodation indeed. If there was some dialogue, and Coderre acted irresponsibily that would be one thing. However, it appears Coderre was stonewalled from day one, which led to this avenue, not by choice, but by default.

Mark Dowling said...

Any MP who wants to go should be accommodated. Not in individual trips - we can't tie down the CF with nursemaid missions - but in groups like when the US Senate Armed Forces committee decides to see for itself what's going on.

If nothing else, this is a massive multibillion commitment of taxpayer cash and foreign policy weight - oversight shouldn't even be a question.