Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Today in Question Period, the Liberals asked the Prime Minister about the juvenile detainees in Afghanistan. Instead of answering the questions, Harper become quite huffy, turned the issue into a question of patriotism. The Liberals are dishonoring the brave men and women, they should apologize, blah, blah.... This response has become standard government policy, whenever anyone ever dares question any facet of the mission in Afghanistan, and frankly it drives me mad.

If there is anyone who is using the soldiers as political pawns, it is Harper. The disingenuous outrage exhibited today, more an attempt to distract, than to deal, really does a disservice to the necessary role of the opposition, in its parliamentary duty to hold the government accountable. Ignatieff actually cracked- "we will not apologize for doing our jobs, maybe the government could start doing theirs".

In the black and white world that Harper likes to project, you either blindly endorse everything military or you do the traitor's work. This frame is so infuriating because it undercuts honest debate, akin to the American neocons. Somehow, people are less Canadian, less concerned about the troops, less supportive, if they ask serious questions about torture. Harper ups the ante into an entire indictment of every single member of the military, when really this is about a singular issue.

Watching the Prime Minister get irate, waving the flag, is frankly embarrassing and petty. Last time I checked it was the Canadian military, not the sole domain of the Conservative Party. Harper's entire posture is that of someone who has ownership, all others enemies. How entirely lame, how entirely Republican.


900ft Jesus said...


Gayle said...

Interesting article today in teh Edmonton Journal about how the UN is interceding in the Kadr case, and how much Canada's reputation for human rights is hurting over all this.

Johnathon said...

Where are the facts?

All Harper is saying is that if Dion has any concrete facts than he should present them.

Dion accuses the troops of being complicit in torture.

This is unacceptable to the troops.

Clearly Dion is using the mission as a political pawn to try to win reelection.

No wonder that the military votes conservative.

Scotian said...


Believe you me you are far from the only one that finds this not only infuriating but absolutely contemptuous of not just the role of the Parliamentary opposition but of every man and woman that wears or has worn the uniform of the Canadian military. Indeed, the willingness of this government to place our loyal soldiers in the position of being at risk of Geneva violations charges down the road solely to suit their partisan *DOMESTIC* political aims is quite possibly to most graphic/blatant example of how they place their narrow partisan interests above any and all other considerations. Which when you factor in their pious rhetoric about being the only ones that support/care about our military men and women is particularly contemptuous and disgusting even by the standards of slime that Harper has already shown himself and his government capable of.

I would much prefer to see our Parliamentarians making sure we are Geneva compliant to protect both the individual soldiers and our international reputation as a law abiding society/nation than in simply mouthing jingoism as we hear from the Harper CPC and its supporters. While I have never worn the uniform it was only because I was medically unable to, I spent several years in my teens in the uniform of the Sea Cadets and I was going to join the Naval reserves at the minimum once I became old enough, but less than two months after I became old enough I tore apart the ligaments in my right leg, making me medically ineligible. My father did wear the uniform in his youth as have many within my family, and the rage this issue and the way the Harper CPCers treat this issue is deep and profound, far more than even things like the Grewal fraud. I made no secret of this when this issue first broke into the public domain some months back now and the CPC government brushed it off then in this disgusting manner.

Excellent commentary on your part Steve V, and something I most heartily and strongly endorse/agree with. This is possibly the most contemptible, disgusting, and dishonourable thing that the Harper government has to be held to account over in a field alas full of disgusting contemptible and dishonourable things.


Given Harper has been classifying anything and everything he can to do with the military especially as regarding the military mission, blocking access to information requests on such it is rather hard for Dion to do that in a conclusive manner, at least without a major whistleblower from within the department even given the leaks of some of the documents the government has clearly tried to keep from public view. As for what is unacceptable, try placing soldiers in the position where they have to decide which is the lesser risk, facing Geneva charges down the road potentially because of the policies of this government or refusing a direct order on the grounds that you believe it to be an illegal order (which technically a Geneva violating order is by definition) and face courts martial in a system which is stacked in favour of the authorities. Your idea of what the concerns should be here and the presumption of innocence you are willing to give to a government that is clearly of your preferred political type betrays you for the partisan hack (at least on this issue and indeed on military honour issues generally IMHO) that you are.

Dion is not accusing the troops, he is accusing the government of placing the troops in a position they cannot win in that clearly runs the risk of placing them in violation of Geneva protocols and deflecting any actual attempts to ascertain the facts in the matter by hiding all information they can and claiming that to even be asking the question "Is it possible that these policies place our troops at potential Geneva violations risk?" is to be anti-military and even potentially pro-Taliban. Many of those that wear the uniform put it on so as to protect the rights and freedoms of our free society, including things like free speech and accountability from our government to the citizens of the nation. I know many in uniform that find the way Harper plays politics with this file to be enough to turn them off the man and his party, and find this mimicry of American military jingoism to be inherently anti-Canadian in nature. So you can take your sanctimonious bilge elsewhere, all you have shown here is your own partisanship/ignorance and your own willingness to see no evil if it touches any of your sacred cows, even when there is more than sufficient grounds to believe the possibility of Geneva violations occurring is quite real and reasonable. Some protecting our soldiers that is you jingoistic twit.

Steve V said...

"Clearly Dion is using the mission as a political pawn to try to win reelection."

Slip of the tongue there ;)


It serves nobody to turn this into a wedge issue, and as you say Harper puts his own narrow interest ahead getting it right.

Scotian said...

Steve V:

You said:

"It serves nobody to turn this into a wedge issue,..." 6:42 PM, November 20, 2007

That is one of the things that I find most disturbing about not just Harper and the CPC itself but also of their supporters, this idea that it is a good idea to use military foreign policy, especially where combat actions are involved, as a wedge issue to try and make electoral gains with domestically at the polls, let alone appearing to be forming the policy decisions based on those partisan considerations first instead of the institutional precedents/memory of the government and what is in the best interests of the nation as a whole and not any one segment of it. We have never been into making a fetish out of our troops, not even in wartime. Respect and aid yes, but venerate along the lines we have seen from our American neighbours? I think not.

We have always been a nation more of quiet pride than noisy flamboyant rhetoric, and while yes we have had our failings and shortcomings in times of crisis like any other peoples, we have tended to look for the least violent alternative wherever possible and when we do not we stand our ground to the end no matter how painful. That there has been criticism of military policy in the past by opposition parties both in terms of support and in terms of approval of missions is nothing new, the idea though that to ask any questions, especially serious ones about potential Geneva Convention violations based not only on politicians reporting it but independent sources with the access to know also doing so is to be anti-military or worse pro-enemy/Taliban is.

I grew up in a family that had strong military connections, and I was raised with a strong respect for the best of what makes soldiers and military service an honourable thing, even when it can call for some very ugly violence to be used in the field of battle (the actual one, not some metaphorical one like too many War on Terror advocates in the USA buy into), and I have also seen some that dishonoured the uniform by even proximity let alone by wearing it, so I neither glorify nor trash the military culture any more than I do any other, I simply understand it and its role in our society the best I can as we all should try to do with our lives. This insanity that we are seeing with the way our military is being used to radicalize the nation (after all radicalizing is an end result of increasing polarization as a goal) is a great dishonour indeed, and for me at least watching partisan hacks like the one earlier in the thread claim it is people like you and me and Dion and Layton for even asking such questions are being anti-patriotic anti-military/soldier nasty people is truly like spitting in the face of our soldiers, to use the favourite myth of the movement conservatives in the USA regarding Vietnam.

One of the things I do not do is false outrage. If something angers me then I am honest about it, if something does not I am honest about that, regardless of whether it favours/unfavours those I make approve/disapprove of. The most I may tend to be if silent about it instead of being other than I am. After all, while I use a pseudonym I fully expect sometime down the road I will end up having to answer for what I write today online, and I prefer that it be an accurate/honest account than not. Besides, it makes from a nice impromptu diary of how I viewed the political/government actions of the day contemporaneously which has a value in its own right. So I tend to get sharp with those that claim, especially on issues like this one, that my visible anger/contempt/disgust is feigned instead of truthful. Not that you or anyone here has done so, I mention it more to underscore why I consider the issue itself serious and why I find the way Harper et al approach this issue especially dangerous on top of simply infuriating.

We (as in anyone that actually bothers to learn human history, either/both modern and prior) have seen where this kind of thing goes, most recently in our southern neighbours but this is hardly an unprecedented issue for any democracy/nation, it is part of the human condition IMHO. We in this country however are better positioned than most to repel this mindset, and so far it seems to have been resisted better than many others, but as in all things there is a limit and I fear how long is left before it is reached. Thankfully Harper is doing much to push that day off into the future, but to count on the foolishness/mistakes of your opponent for victory is never wise nor sensible. We need to cleanse ourselves of this contamination before it has a chance to get too strong a grip on enough of our population to truly redefine this nation. We are not there yet, but this is where Harper and Flanagan and the rest of the Calgary School have wanted to take us all along, and the incrementalism approach should be working better for them save Harper's own inherent personality flaws that he cannot control sufficiently to prevent the fear/concern response from most Canadian voters.

Sorry about the ramble, the past couple of weeks have been draining, and I haven't had much time for online activities let alone actual commenting/blogging, so I guess it is triggering more spillage than usual. Well that and I am a bit on the tired side, looking after two parents, the one that normally manages things having broken his leg a couple of weeks ago necessitating living out with them for a week and playing chauffeur on demand ever since having taken a bit out of me. Not complaining, only explaining, after all they are my parents and while like most people we have our issues at times with each other ultimately we still love each other and look after each other when it is needed, even if it takes us away from things we really enjoy doing.

Have a good night; I am not sure how long I am staying online tonight after this.

Steve V said...

"We have always been a nation more of quiet pride than noisy flamboyant rhetoric..."

I like that :)