‘One either believes in freedom or one just says one believes in freedom’


Amid all else, the Prime Minister announced this morning that Canada will be participating in the enforcement of the United Nations resolution against Libya. Parliament will apparently be consulted and formal approval will apparently be required if the mission is extended beyond three months. Mr. Harper is on his way tonight to a summit in Paris to discuss the matter with other world leaders.

Herein, his remarks to reporters today.

Good morning. Since the crisis in Libya first began, Canada has taken a strong and decisive position.  Working closely with our allies, we have evacuated Canadian citizens, put in place tough sanctions and called on the Gadhafi regime to stop the bloodshed and immediately step down. Despite these actions, the situation in Libya remains intolerable.

Last night, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution endorsing immediate action to protect Libyan citizens from the threat of further slaughter.  Canada, in cooperation with our allies and other members of the international community, worked to gain support for this resolution.  We will now take the urgent action necessary to support it.

As a consequence, the government has authorized the deployment of CF-18 fighter jets to join the HMCS Charlottetown in the region.  If Colonel Gadhafi does not comply with this Security Council resolution, Canadian armed forces, working with other like-minded nations, will enforce this resolution.

We are encouraged by late-breaking news that in response to the threat of military action, the Libyan regime has declared a cease-fire.  However, for that threat to remain credible, adequate military forces must be in place.  Our deployment will, therefore, proceed.

I have spoken with the leaders of the opposition parties to advise them of the government’s decision and to indicate we will consult Parliament next week.  I also indicated that we will see Parliament’s approval before extending the deployment beyond three months.

I will just add this:  one either believes in freedom or one just says one believes in freedom.  The Libyan people have shown by their sacrifice that they believe in it.  Assisting them is a moral obligation upon those of us who profess this great ideal.


‘One either believes in freedom or one just says one believes in freedom’

  1. The welfare of our brave fighter pilots,

    The life and death matter of protecting innocents and defending freedom and democracy,

    Making the world a safer place free of tyrants,



    pales in comparison to the petty partisan hysterics going on in Ottawa right now.

    So says our ever-in-touch media, who will glance by this life and death issue and be back onto the salacious photos of a former call girl,

    like giddy high school girls giggling about the latest rumour.

    Yes, let us pay lip service to that which truly matters in this world, and then….get back to the high schoolesqu giggling….over, and over and over again.

    Soon Canadians will decide if this petty nonsense is what truly matters to them.

    My call?

    It won't even be close.

    Not even close.

  2. "My call?
    It won't even be close.
    Not even close"

    Cheer up, Chet. I don't think it's that bad for the Conservatives yet. You'll probably get to keep your minority, even.

  3. Democracy is for Others. The Con election slogan.

  4. How poetic.

  5. Sorry Chet but I think if Harper is really interested in saving the world from tyrants he would resign …

  6. Assisting them is a moral obligation upon those of us who profess this great ideal.

    … which is why we're sending 6 planes (out of 64 active combat aircraft), and a boat that's already there: to send this message strongly so all can hear.

  7. I am extremely concerned he isn't seeking parliamentary approval beforehand.

  8. I guess we'll be overflying Zimbabwe next, owing to our belief in freedom. Cool.

  9. Invoking the bravery of our soldiers to launch your own attack on your partisan enemies…

    Yeah, you're definitely speaking from a morally superior position.

    Stay classy, chet.

  10. One has every right to dislike and object to Harper. He's done any number of things that can be criticized. But it's an absolute insult to those who have been beaten, imprisoned and even killed in real tyrannies to call Harper a tryant. It cheapens the word to the point of meaningless. Perspective is important.

  11. On a world scale, we really need to have clear statements about what it takes to mobilize our army abroad.

    I would hate to think that people in other unpalatable regimes would now be moved to protest on the hope they can raise western military – aid that may or may not be coming.

    And in this particular situation, it seems like an unacceptable half measure. If it's the right call to go in with the army, simply enforcing a no fly zone so they can't be killed with planes isn't good enough. If it's not the right call to send in the army, the planes shouldn't be there.

  12. Doesn't this seemingly commit Canada to a position that far exceeds the current UN declaration and mandate?

  13. I will just add this: one either believes in freedom or one just says one believes in freedom. The Libyan people have shown by their sacrifice that they believe in it. Assisting them is a moral obligation upon those of us who profess this great ideal.


    One word (followed by one punctuation mark) : China?

  14. Apparently we don't believe in freedom for the people of Bahrein whose leaders have received the armed assistance of the democrats next door in Saudi Arabia.

  15. How many ships and planes should we send – and how many are our allies contributing?

  16. I love this binary logic. It is applicable to many other appositions:

    One either believes in accountability or one just says one believes in accountability.

    One either believes in transparency or one just says one believes in transparency.

    One either believes in an elected Senate or one just says one believes in an elected Senate.

  17. Parliament isn't the government, and in an emergency no Canadian government has ever asked parliamentary approval ahead of action. Mr. Harper has consulted with the opposition leaders and they have all agreed to the action – what more could he do? Put all action on hold until after the next election?

  18. No

  19. So if we can't liberate everyone everywhere immediately, we shouldn't try and help anyone anywhere now?

  20. So what would you have us do in Bahrain? And if there is nothing practical we can do to help them there, should we simply stand aside and wait for the inevitable massacres of the people of Benghazi?

  21. I could explain it to you, but it will mean more to you if you come to the answer yourself.

  22. I can't find information that the other parties agreed so I can't speak to that. If any had said NO would have have stayed.

    harper can't be trusted on military matters. He should never act without parliamentary approval, no matter what the executive is entitled to do.

  23. No, this is a Prime Ministerial prerogative. It has to be. Otherwise, its playing politics.

  24. No, this is a Libyan fight. The no-fly zone just ensures it is a fair fight, that's all.

  25. There was an interview with a Libyan Canadian on 'As It Happens' last week. The guy was full of (albeit cautious) optimism. They did a follow up this week. He was down. He was angry. Sad and angry. And even though it's foolish to try and personify this whole thorny mess – a mess we've help make with recent rapprochements with the Qadaffi regime, BTW – it's impossible to not think of that guy and the fact that these efforts may save he and his family.

    Where it gets messy is the picking and choosing which people will be saved from which despotic regime. If "One either believes in freedom or one just says one believes in freedom", you have to wonder: Are un-free Bharaini lives less valuable than those of Libyans? Is the un-freedom of Yemeni lives somehow lacking in requisite urgency?

    And then there's the excellent point made above that some peoples living in intolerable thrall to despots may be tempted to rise against in anticipation of the full exercise of these fine sentiments in action. And 'one' wonders if they will be forthcoming.

    Literally a bloody mess.

  26. Oh I know he MAY do it. I think he SHOULD act differently.

  27. I disagree completely. Essentially we are saying that when Libya kills its citizens it must not do so from the air. That seems like a ridiculous half measure to me.

    Hopefully the cease fire stays in place and it doesn't go any farther.

  28. Whose infrastructure are we using to get these planes in theater? CF-18 range is 3700 km [F-35 only 2200km]. Seems like we are desperately trying to prove a role or we're being vicarious Americans.

  29. A half measure it may well be, but we can't and shouldn't fight their fight for them. That swiftly makes us the bad guys–as we've seen just about everywhere we've ever tried it (and we've tried it a lot so have a lot of examples). Not to mention the freedom will be so much sweeter when the Libyan people have earned it themselves and are not beholden to others for the 'gift'.

    And for our own self-interest, which always has to enter the equation–no way are we prepared to get into another war!

  30. Why is it more practical in Libya than in Bahrain? Or is it because we (and I don't mean just Canada) don't seem to have news feeds from Bahrain? Or because the Saudis are our buddies?

  31. If harper doesn't have an answer for this question and a reason for that answer, he has no business making absolute statements like the one he did. As I've stated above, it's not just rhetoric – there's an issue of clear guidelines about when we send out our troops.

  32. Is there a way you could embed a stirring musical track (strident, martial theme or perhaps thundering, patriotic opus) to accompany your lofty, soaring rhetoric?

    It might stifle my urge to hurl as I'm reading it.

  33. If we're going alphabetically, Zimbabwe is really stuck. But there may be some hope
    for Cote D'Ivoire in the years ahead. Meanwhile we may have to deal with that sticky
    Aristide situation all over again. There is no end to God's work.

  34. I can't believe what's happening here: this is two days in a row wheery has posted prime ministerial statements with little or no critical commentary.

    Is it the result of wheery's non-partisan blog activity or recent plate tectonic events that my world is tilting? I can only hope it's all a ruse by wheery to throw the Con commenters off their game.

    Mygawd, I'm just so confused…

  35. Except that our (the west/north) record hasn't been one of helping. Instead we install dictators and tyrants that are more to our liking.

  36. Well that's helpful. But given that the big worry is the medium to long-term play, presenting this as "assisting" the rebels achieving freedom is not how this resolution is worded or was conceived. Specifically, there is an intentional lack of language regarding whether member countries are allowed to "help" the rebel cause. And in the absence of the language, they aren't covered by the resolution to do so. Those two different missions overlap right now, but they are not the same thing, and Harper seems to feel very strongly in both.

  37. So we should stand aside and wring our hands, as we did in Rwanda, and then say how sorry we are – or adopt policies such as "responsibility to protect" without any intention of following through?

  38. I'm sympathetic, but the no-fly zone won't/wouldn't be enough, and the declaration includes language authorizing air-strikes to knock out artillery and tanks.

    The only way this becomes a fair fight without western bombings is if Qaddafi basically folds, or retreats to his cities and digs in.

  39. Because the UN, for one, hasn't authorized anyone to do anything, because there is no civil war, yet, in Bahrain, and because it is possible to protect the people of Benghazi from Ghadaffi's army, and it probably is not possible to intervene in Bahrain's politics at the moment, however much one might like to see a change in that regime. Again, the argument that if one can't do everything everywhere one shouldn't do anything anywhere is a weak one.

  40. So why to Kosovo, and not Rwanda, why Kandahar and not Darfur, why Korea and not Vietnam? It is not likely any rule book will cover all eventualities, or bind any future government to a plan that has to be molded to practicalities and the realities of politics.

  41. yes, exactly. the rhetoric makes everything incomprehensible. It's fair to have a nuanced and complex approach to foreign policy, but it means that sweeping statements make you sound ridiculous. Harper, on the face of it, clearly doesn't "believe in freedom", and "just says (he) believes in freedom", if I judge him by his words today. But I actually don't believe that interpretation, for all of my skepticism about his foreign policy. You can't have it both ways; you can't be a credible authority on foreign affairs while serving up 3rd rate Churchillianisms that make you feel warm and fuzzy. He should just say that this is a good thing to do, and he's set on doing it for that reason.

  42. We are using the same "infrastructure" we used to get the same planes to the Gulf and to Kosovo – Canada has both its own air to air refuelling capacity and it can rely on its allies for assistance – why is it "American" to assist the UN?

  43. Absolutely not. The responsibility to protect doesn't mean fight battles for others. It means set up a no-fly zone so the crazy man can't bomb whole swathes of people. Admittedly, it isn't a perfect protection. But it is, I think, the best balance we can do given our need to not invade every country under the sun.

  44. Well, yes exactly. If the artillery and tanks aren't used, I trust we will not destroy them. And when I say "I trust" I really mean I hope like hell, because I don't actually *trust*.

  45. We apparently don't believe in freedom in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, China, Darfur….

    Just in Libya.

    Isn't that interesting…..

  46. "Last night, the United Nations Security Council"


  47. Sometimes I get the sense Harper would start a war to change the channel.

  48. The planes will be based in southern Italy for the duration of the campaign. Therefore, the 3700 km range is sufficient for sorties without the need for in-flight refueling.

  49. Fine, take it to the UN. Moreover, who's "we"?

    I realize this might be difficult to understand in your one-dimensional universe, but it's just possible that the same course of action doesn't apply.

  50. Really? Canada is responsible for initiating this war?

  51. 'We'……a) Canada b) the west

    No, certainly the same course of action doesn't apply. There are oil buddies in SA, nothing in Darfur, and China is bigger than us.

    So we're very selective as to who we help.

  52. What makes a tyrant? Actions? Or intent?

  53. Disagree actually. For cases of military action, our government's first priority must be to act. When we are to apply force, it should be done without hesitation and done in a decisive manner. I personally wonder whether 6 planes are enough, but that judgment I leave to the generals on the field.

    That said, once in play, debate should follow equally swiftly. I don't like this three month delay. Start talking about it now, and any application of military force should be followed with a confidence vote.

  54. I think he's more saying the other way around.. if we're actively helping oppressors, such as the Chinese, do we believe in freedom? Or do we just say we believe in freedom so long as it's convenient and doesn't affect our standard of living?

  55. He needs two to tango (sorry for the Falklands reference) … now,if France were to make
    threats against Burgeo from their haven in St. Pierre (there are rumours of oil in the area)
    just think of what an election that would make …

  56. Both….plus the inability to hold the tyrant to account. That is not the case in Canada. Harper has done many dumb things, but he is far from tyrannical. Comparing him to Quadaffi is just plain asinine

  57. I've never understood this "All or nothing" thinking….

    either we help EVERYONE or we're just evil westerners if we only help some. Sure, it would be great if we could wave a magic wand and help everyone. Absent of that, I think it's better that we're helpful where possible than do nothing at all.

  58. Any evidence of this? No? oh…ok, then

  59. Both….plus the inability of the population to hold that leader to account. That is not the case in Canada. Harper has done a lot of dumb things, but he is not tyrannical. Comparing him to Quadaffi is just asinine.

  60. Yes, assisting the UN in preventing a dictator from bombing his own people…we're being such American toadies! Damn us!

  61. You clearly missed the "Harper is just like Hitler/Stalin/Bin Laden/Quadaffi/Mussolini" memo lol

  62. For any other prime minister in Canadian history I would agree. For the only sitting leader in the entire world who still thinks the invasion of Iraq was the right idea, he should never act without the input of the House.

  63. Then Harper shouldn't be opening his big mouth, should he?

  64. Complete lack of honesty and decency, contempt for the working of Canadian government. Since it's Harper, it's perfectly legitimate to assume "I'll be in a better position against a confidence vote if I can be involved in a war." It may not have been his only consideration, but absolutely nothing in his five years of governance would lead an observer to believe its not a big factor for him.

  65. I think pdpd is saying what I would have said had I not turned my computer off last night. I have no complaint with taking on Gadaffi, but I do have a complaint with prime ministerial hypocracy. He only believes in freedom when the US is prepared to take down a tyrant and will let us tag along.

  66. What part of

    "I have spoken with the leaders of the opposition parties to advise them of the government's decision and to indicate we will consult Parliament next week. I also indicated that we will see Parliament's approval before extending the deployment beyond three months."

    didn't you get?

  67. I agree the thought "I'll be in a better position against a confidence vote if I can be involved in a war." Though, perhaps a touch cynical, I think most politicians would have similar thoughts.

    However, that is not what evenflow suggested. He said that he'd START a war to change the channel. There is no evidence of Harper planning to start wars anywhere in order to change attention. Harper didn't invent the war in Libya as some Machiavellian plot

  68. Oops, sorry, my first sentence is incomplete.

    I meant: I agree the thought "I'll be in a better position against a confidence vote if I can be involved in a war." has probably occurred to him.

  69. Well, I got the part where he's saying the troops will be there for three months regardless of what Parliament decides.

    I'm assuming that's the part that you missed.

  70. Except that's not what we're doing. We're not being helpful where possible. We're being helpful where our energy supplies are threatened, and that's pretty much it.

    That's what makes this statement by Harper such a piece of hypocritical crap.

  71. Can we really trust St. Pierre and Miquelon?

    Let’s have a preventative war! That’ll prevent an unnecessary election of fragile economic coalitions.

  72. Lots of other unfair fights "for freedom" in the world. I'm just curious why Mr. Harper feels this one is unfair, and not, say, Bahrain or Yemen.

    It's not that I don't appreciate the complications. It's not that I don't realize that we can't practically intervene everywhere.

    It's just that I'd like better, more honest, less hypocritically vacuous and self-righteous reasons for doing so in this case than than whatever Dimitri Soudas' crayon club happened to scribble together this week.

  73. Listen, if he can actually get a pop in the polls just for flying six supposedly obsolete fighters across the Atlantic for fighter sweeps against a country the size of Quebec, well, all power to him. If we're that gullible, then we might as well accept it and carry on.

  74. Yes, I'm already worried about that, and about the view by some (allies or journalists reporting on allies) that it is about getting Ghadaffi out of there. Which of course it's not.

  75. Good heavens, brooster, learn how to read between uh, letters, or something.

    Just look how that Wheery started with "amid all else". Well, what the heck did you think he meant by that? Honestly, he's just insufferable the way he inserts these little jabs all the time. :)

  76. I agree they this is the way things have been done, and I don't have a problem with how it's been handled by Harper at all.

    That said, that's not the same as saying this is the only way to work things in an emergency. I found it interesting to hear that Denmark's Parliament voted on the involvement of their air force in this mission, and Danish F-16s have already flown missions over Libya.

    I hasten to reiterate that I'm not saying that SHOULD have been done here in Canada, only that it's not exactly impossible, especially when all the Opposition leaders are onside.

  77. Wherry doesn't actually comment all that much on a lot of what he posts here. People just generally assume that they know what Wherry's is trying to say in his posts whether he actually says anything or not.

  78. You do remember the part where the Egyptians actually got rid of their dictator without us, don't you?

  79. Well so far they haven't gotten rid of anything. A military junta is running the country, and Mubarak hasn't left.

  80. Well, I think it's pretty safe to assume that Mubarak's not getting back in to power. More importantly I'm certain that the people of Egypt don't need us to set up a no-fly zone over Egypt, and never did. A big difference between Egypt and Libya is that in Egypt, when the army showed up the opposition protesters CHEERED.

  81. As long as he and his sons are there, that possibility exists.

    He did not attack his own people, so no, they didn't need a no-fly zone.

    How things shape up come the election may be another matter.

  82. The rebels could use rocket-propelled grenades as a way to counter Libyan armor, and those are weapons the rebels have requested.

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