Gotta go with the pack on this one — this is just trash:

Let me just say this: living as we do, in a time when some in the political arena do not hesitate before throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform, based on the most flimsy of evidence, remember that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are proud of you and stand behind you, and I am proud of you, and I stand beside you.

That’s your prime minister talking, folks, accusing members of Parliament who raise legitimate questions about Canada’s policy on the transfer of prisoners in Afghanistan of smearing “our men and women in uniform.” There is no sense in which this is true. There is no interpretation you can give it that draws it near to the truth. It is not even close.

There are many points of uncertainty in the detainee issue, and some members of the opposition may have leapt to some conclusions about it. But not about the soldiers on the ground. No one that I am aware of has made any criticism of the soldiers who handed over the prisoners to the Afghan security services — only of those who issued the orders to do so.

Coupled with the continuing refusal to release the Colvin memos and other relevant documents — or rather their selective release, to some but not others — it makes it very hard to give the government the benefit of the doubt in this affair. Their story has become more believable, but their every action suggests that they themselves don’t believe it.



  1. In a scrum today, Bob Rae called Harper's comments "reprehensible". Pretty much.

  2. Of course is a direct attack on our soldiers! I agree, they had to follow orders but at the end of the day they were the ones doing it and the way it looks they are being accused for a very horrible crime, that's BS!

  3. Yes, but we should be careful. They may be telling the truth, but still acting in a way that suggests the opposite. The reflex in politicians to dissemble, conceal and explain away is deeply embedded. Even when they're innocent!

  4. Very cogent analysis, mlc.

    • I assume that was sarcasm.

  5. How does John Baird manage to get up so quickly in the House to vilify the Opposition, what with the loaded diaper and all?

  6. "No one that I am aware of has made any criticism of the soldiers who handed over the prisoners to the Afghan security services — only of those who issued the orders to do so."

    These accusations do reflect on our troops because they were the ones who actually handed over Afghans. Generally speaking, Canadians/Western Civ are not big fans of 'I was only following orders' defence. Harper does not single out any one person/org, so it is ok for PM to let our troops know he's got their back.

  7. Okay, mlc: how can I go about asking questions of what's being going on with our prisoners in Afghanistan, and calling out the government on their obfuscation and stonewalling, without being accused of crapping on our soldiers?

    I'd really like to know.

    • What was the motion about this is about the alleged 'torture' of detainees. Colvin alleged all turned over were tortured. Who rounded up and turned over these "farmers, truckers" according to Colvin?

      The NDP and Bloc never supported the mission. They have won in destroying more support for the mission by accepting Colvin and discrediting everyone else without ANY evidence besides sworn testimony.

  8. "Harper does not single out any one person/party so it is ok for PM to let our troops know he's got their back."

    Even as he uses them for cover?

  9. What would be so odious about criticising our men and women in uniform? People act like this is a cardinal sin. Isn't the MPCC investigation into abuse of a detainee while in Canadian custody? And Colvin has some pointed remarks about uniformed soldiers, including taking only one name to identify detainees and then taking months to pass that name on – even though neither act seems to have been policy.

  10. Couldn't agree with you more, Coyne. This last outburst from our PM is utter crap.

  11. Actually, under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court "following orders" is a defense, even in cases involving war crimes, provided the following conditions are met:

    "(a)The person was under a legal obligation to obey orders of the Government or the superior in question;
    (b)The person did not know that the order was unlawful; and
    (c)The order was not manifestly unlawful."

    The statute further specifies that "orders to commit genocide or crimes against humanity are manifestly unlawful."

    Even the government's worst critics would not suggest that a faulty prisoner transfer protocol amounted to genocide or crimes against humanity. So as unlikely as it is that anyone will be charged with war crimes in this affair, it is even less likely that any ordinary foot soldier would be.


    • Suppose, just suppose condition (b) was not satisfied in a hypothetical case – ie the field officers knew with certainty that the apprehended persons would be tortured by handing them over to another party. What options would they have?

      1) Keep the prisoners in custody within your own army. Remember the Dutch? and Germans? approached Canada roughly at this time with the idea that they jointly would build a prison and man it? The proposal went nowhere – presumedly killed by the brass/political arms.

      2)Simply let the prisoners go, in which case they would simply go back to fighting your troops and killing fellow soldiers. Remeber this is a combat zone

      3) Never take prisoners. In which case, one might expect the number of battlefield casualties to rise – combatants as well as innocents.

      I have difficulty, in all circumstances, finding fault with frontline soldiers, even if (and it's a big if) there was an apprehension of the very strong possibility of torture, of turning them over, given the alternate choices that they faced. Maybe I missed some.

  12. Warranted individual criticism is different than an unjustified collective smear, which is what the PM accused the opposition of.

  13. Both you and the opposition are being disingenuous by being critical "only of those who issued the orders to do so".

    You know, and the opposition know, that following orders is no excuse.

    First they come for the officers and bureacrats but sooner or later they will come after the enlisted men too.

    I am sure that our soldiers are finding the opposition's attack, based on no evidence (not just flimsy evidence), to be more chilling than the winter winds of Afghanistan.

    I stand with the Prime Minister on this one.

  14. Also, you get poll point for being the most stridently supportive of the troops, however insincere or irrelevant that support is…that's probably worth more than any points lost by appearing guilty.

  15. Thank you Coyne. I was thinking of the Nuremberg trials. I had no idea.

    A show I watched yesterday – I think it was Question Period but not certain had journos, Blatchford and guy who's name I forget – discussing what our soldiers knew or didn't know about what was happening to Afghans they were handing over. Depending on what truth is, our troops might have had suspicions about what was occurring.

    • If Harper is obfuscating to protect troops than I agree with his actions.

      How could Harper being the first to imply it is the troops fault, could ever be done to "protect the troops"??

  16. Look down. Note what you and he are standing in.

  17. "You know, and the opposition know, that following orders is no excuse. "

    So you are saying the soldiers are guilty of war crimes.

    Way to support the troops.

  18. Here's my question:

    Are the GENERALS to be considered men and woman in uniform?
    Because if one does it is beyond clear that Mr. Harper's remarks are completely accurate.

    Gen. Rick Hillier was slammed as being morally flimsy by the opposition during the torture discussion.
    I believe that is a smear, especially when all the evidence is not in to be drawing such a conclusion.

    Harper's statement is indeed correct and his defence of the military laudable.

    Now, if you believe he's using this issue (which the opposition handed to him) as cover to delegitimize the torture conversaion then please say so. That's a perfectly reasonable criticism that should be discussed. Harper's remarks, however, are beyond dispute.

    • thanks for being an apologist Jesse. Your service in the time of futility will not go unnoticed by your overlords.

  19. Don't you think this is a bit more than a difference in style? They've been doing this since 2006: attacking Opposition MP's patriotism when they dare represent the questions of their constituents, comparing the asking questions about the Afghan mission in Ottawa with giving aid and comfort to terrorists, throwing public servants under a bus when a Minister states a blatant falsehood about a file, etc.

    The Reform Party Boys Gone Wild have driven many of those in the middle (Blue Libs, Red Tories) out of the voting game altogether, handing the nation's agenda to the Reformers, Bloc and NDP. Those parties whose support — and level of maturity — are in the teens drive the agenda today.

  20. Okay, so wait just a minute. As evidenced by Albertasaurus, Kat and Bettie on other threads, and Joylon (Joylon? I'm so disappointed) the only ones accusing the soldiers on the ground of doing something wrong are the Conservative supporters.

    So, are you guys saying, "we know you deliberately abetted torture, but since we don't mind torture that's fine by us" or "well, you did something bad but we love you and will stand with you as you are punished for it" or is it the more probable, "yes, you are war criminals, but it's all the Liberal's fault!"

    Wow, way to support the troops.

  21. Heat. Kitchen. You know the rest.

  22. Harper's a PIG.

  23. "quite another when you go grocery shopping with your kids and have other people whisper and stare at you and asking their parents why is it that ' the war criminal is out shopping and pointing at you and your kids (true story)"

    What a squalid little lie. Pathetic.

  24. "Gotta go with the pack on this one"

    I respect that, I respect you, but "the pack" which includes some of your more prolific Bloggers, I do not respect. .

  25. not to mention that they may actually believe they are telling the truth while being mistaken in their interpretation of reality.

  26. I'd like to hit you right about now. (I won't because I'm a lady, and because hitting my monitor will hurt my hand and you won't even feel it.)

    Nobody but the Conservatives thinks this reflects on our troops.

    So were you picking b or c in my quotes above?

  27. My most optimistic hope is that Harper meant this to be standard rah-rah political boilerplate rather than a serious, reasoned point arguing that the opposition hates our soldiers. "Well, you know, unlike the Liberals who are pansywaists the Conservatives have always stuck by our soldiers and will continue to stick by them even though times are tough" and some speechwriter just wasn't paying much attention.

    In short, I am reduced to hoping that our governing party is sloppy and inattentive.

  28. Some of my favourite people are irascible old timers who tell it like it is.

  29. Best blogger post on the matter, including a quotation from Richard Colvin:
    "…""I was very proud to have served in Afghanistan alongside the courageous and professional men and women of the Canadian Forces, including Canada's military police. The focus of our attention, in my view, should not be on those who obeyed their chain of command, which soldiers are obliged to do. Instead, any responsibility for Canada's practices toward detainees lies, in my view, with the senior military officers, senior civilian officials, and the lawyers who developed the legal framework, designed the policies and practices, and then ordered that they be implemented."…"

  30. Andrew,
    I disagree.
    The libs have a history of throwing the armed forces under the bus. For years they cut and cut and cut the armed forces budget to the point they sent our brave young men and women to Afghanistan in green suits and Iltus Jeeps (check Spelling).
    Their conversion on the road to Kabul as supporters of the armed forces is not real patriotism.
    I sense the Canadian public feels they are out to score political points and are getting disgusted by their continuous filabuster.
    Just my opinion.

    • <sigh> Read Granatstein's "Who Killed the Canadian Military?" *Every* government from Diefenbaker onwards, Grit or Tory, has a history of "throwing the armed forces under the bus". Short-changing the military is a non-partisan tradition in this country. Aided and abetted by the voters.

      Also, I have little confidence in Ignatieff's patriotism, but I have less confidence in Harper's.

  31. For years they cut and cut and cut the armed forces budget…

    “I do not intend to dispute in any way the need for defence cuts and the need for government spending cuts in general. …I do not share a not in my backyard approach to government spending reductions.”- Stephen Harper, Hansard, May 23rd 1995.

  32. Just a minute now, I'm not saying the soldiers are responsible for doing anything other than representing Canada in the best possible light. I'm saying that calling our soldiers to testify in front of the parliamentary committee on the word of one diplomat and then treating them like their word is questionable is very disappointing.

    I also don't think we should accuse Harper of hiding behind the soldiers because he praised their work.

    Serious allegations have been flung at our soldiers, in the political arena, based on the most flimsy of evidence. True or False?

  33. …when you go grocery shopping with your kids and have other people whisper and stare at you and asking their parents why is it that ' the war criminal is out shopping and pointing at you and your kids (true story) '

    True story? If you're John Demnanjuk maybe.

  34. The Toronto Star reports To make sure no one had missed it, a Conservative backbencher reread Harper's comment in the House of Commons just before question period began Monday, setting the tone for a nasty war of words.

    So, not only does Harper trash talk, but after everyone calls it trash, he makes sure it is repeated.

  35. "What a squalid little lie. Pathetic"

    And you know this how? Do you live in a military town? Do you know the families of our soldiers and the trials and tribulations that these families endure? Do you genuinely have any clue the sacrifices the soldiers and their families make?

    If you do not wish to stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front!

  36. Mulroney cut just as deeply as Trudeau before him and Chretien after him. Defense cuts were all the rage from 1980 to 2000. To Mulroney's credit, he did order new frigates. To Trudeau's credit, he did order new FA-18 Hornets. Otherwise, it was cut cut cut and peacekeeping on the cheap.

  37. "And you know this how? "

    I was there in the grocery store at the time.

  38. False, and by quite a wide margin. QUESTIONS have been asked of our top military brass–hardly "our soldiers", based on sworn testimony of a (previously, at least) well respected career diplomat. Why is our diplomat not considered to be as above reproach as you would have our generals? I am asking this of you, Kat.

  39. Charles Adler expresses magnificently exactly how I feel about this…

    Go to Nov. 27 at 1:00 PM, and start at about the 6 minute mark.

    Can’t add a single word to what he said.

    • Is this your job — spamming Maclean's posts with an identical plug to listen to some blowhard on AM radio?

    • Thanks Jerry

  40. I am in awe of your intellect. Your turn of phrase is both eloquent and inspiring. And the cap-lock thing… brought me to tears.

  41. Jolyon, If indeed you have a big problem with Harper, my guess is you will be unable to sustain it for more than a week and a half. I can understand dim-witted partisans named after US states defending Harper… but I find it troubling when full-fledged or border-line libertarians regularly jump out to defend him. (Coyne, you are out there as well).

    I understand that Harper has not achieved any individual outcome that is truly awful. However, he has eroded individual rights without gaining anything for the collective good. He has lowered the level of democratic debate (Coyne finally noticed) and poisoned the politics of this country. He can however carry a tune.

  42. Good on you Andrew.

  43. This isn't a "Liberal" issue. Any right thinking Canadian wants to know who knew what and when.

    Perhaps you are not aware of this but partisan myopia can be treated. Many of us don't care about teams, only how the game is played, and it is only too bad that there are not more who think like that.

  44. Don't you get enough of that from Oilers management? Do you need it from the PM as well?

  45. I.e. what we hoi polloi call "bullsh*t."

  46. You're right, Coyne. Nobody is "… throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform … " as Harper says. I certainly am not throwing allegations at our men and women and uniform who are on the front line and are doing a job that very few of us have the intestinal fortitude to do. I will say this, however ; Hillier has a lot to answer for. He shouldn't have been handing over prisoners to KGB trained NDS. He may yet answer for it in Den Haag.

  47. Andrew Coyne is absolutely right!!

  48. You know I like you Andrew…but there goes the Senate appointment

  49. "If you do not wish to stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front!"

    Doesn't that line refers to a firing squad?

  50. Andrew
    I've found your comments on this pretty sensible. Your comment today that their story is becoming believable I think has some merit- as I see it, there are two ways to square the contradictory testimonies so far.

    1) Colvin is an honest guy who took his job seriously but with an inflated sense of how much attention should be paid to his memos and who has slightly exaggerated the timeliness and seriousness of his warnings
    2) Everybody else (3 generals, Mulroney, McKay) are lying

    #2 strikes me as much less likely
    Which means that the truth would be pretty much as you've laid it out elsewhere, and the Conservatives are bending the truth at the edges.
    The question then, as you've posed, is why are the Conservatives stonewalling instead of mounting a serious defence?
    My hypothesis is that they may be playing possum. I think they did this with the Cadman affair- purposely enraging the opposition by obviously bending the truth and stonewalling, knowing that legally they were in the stronger position.

    It wouldn't surprise me at all if this were the game to them- we have to guess that the Conservatives have an enormous advantage in terms of information. Could they be purposely driving the opposition mad, hoping they'll make overblown accusations and smears against the generals, and then, eventually, their story will be pretty much as you've outlined it elsewhere? In which case they'll have plenty of inconsistencies, but those will be forgotten while their main narrative will be sympathetic and they can paint their opposition as lunatics.

    This would be pretty awful behaviour, but certainly fits what we've seen before- don't we all think it more likely that Harper is playing political gamesmanship than that he deliberately buried evidence of torture?

  51. Woops, the he's and him's are Peter McKay.

  52. There is a strong anti-military current in Canada, and a lot of it rests with NDP supporters. Honestly, is that story so hard to believe? I was in the reserves, and I can tell you from wearing the uniform into a bar- it is a FACT that there are "peace-loving" Canadians who think ALL soldiers are de facto war criminals. And if they'll come and tell me that face to face, don't you think there are more who will give dirty looks or make rabid accusations on anonymous Internet boards?

    When I said this on another board I was labelled a Cheney: as if any word that guy ever spoke can now no longer be used. What nonsense. Cheney labelled ALL opposition as unpatriotic or anti-miltary. Does it follow that anti-military or anti-Canadian feeling doesn't exist?
    I'm not saying the Liberals are anti-military, or the NDP, at least as far as their leadership goes. But go out to a bar in Toronto in a uniform some time and see how it goes- you'll get a lot of good attention, but you'll always get a little of the bad too.

  53. First set of six frigates were ordered under Trudeau. Next six were under Mulroney.

    And I understand, most of the spending Harper is taking credit for was actually budgeted by the Liberals.

    Finally . . . EH101, yes, cancelled by Chretien, but I think that would have been scaled back if not outright cut by any government in the fiscal environment at that time. Similar to Avro Arrow . . . if Dief was not elected, it would've been cancelled by the Liberals.

    And, if you really want to go into history . . . in WW1 Canada was plagued by war profiteering due to Conservative govt's cronyism (the MoD at the time was a Colonel in the Army, and none too competent), contrasted with the Libs handling of procurement in WW2 . . . we ended up with the third-largest navy in the world at the end.

  54. *I am proud of you and I stand beside you*
    How can we believe anything SH says, he has lied to us before (no deficit, will not tax income trusts) etc.

  55. Of all the detainees captured by all the different troops in Afghanistan
    why is it that only those taken by Canadian troops were tortured?
    Something wrong with this story.

  56. And soon he'll come riding on his unicorn, waving his wand to scatter sparkly forgetting fairy dust on all the sad and embarrassed Conservatives; and they will only remember what they want to remember. And Canada's democracy will continue going to hell in a handbasket..

  57. Ummmm so you agree with my theory?

    BTW, just to add my vote, I also found the comment disgusting, and perfectly within the boundaries of our political debate as it has become since at least the twenty years I've paid attention

  58. Mr. Harper does absolutely no service to our armed servicemen and women by linking allegations of torture at the hands of Afghan officials to our soldiers as only he has done. Read me right: no one other then the Prime Minister is suggesting that the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces are somehow being blamed for this. He is the one repeating that story.

    The policy of handing over captured Taliban suspects was a government policy; a policy from the ‘suits’ and not the creation of those dressed in camo. The risk that the Prime Minister imposes upon our soldiers by linking the two together is that, should ever evidence be uncovered showing that the suits knowingly handed over prisioners to be tortured, it is the uniform of the Canadian Armed Forces that may unfairly wear the smear. As if the blood of 133 were not enough, Harper is potentially making our soldiers a political casulty in his partisian war.

    • So we all agree it was beyond the realm of decent discourse, and no Canadian politician has ever stooped so low.

      Here, name that tune, in one bar: "In our streets."

  59. Perhaps I spoke too soon. I am aware of the radical left haters of whom you speak, and they make me sick to my stomach. But that particular anecdote just "lacked the ring of truth" as they say. I could well be mistaken, and my sincere apologies to pciclone if that is that case.

  60. geo – Because unlike the British and Dutch, Canada did not monitor their conditions after they handed them over to the NDS, and Canada was taking six times as many detainees as British troops and 20 times as many as the Dutch. Hillier should have looked at what he was putting his signature to

  61. I cannot believe that the collective Canadian conscience is being highjacked by the PMO’s office on dealing with the Afganistan war.
    Thank goodness for the real standup journalists in our newsrooms, front lines along with background staff who are ferroting out the truth. Have we as Canadians really gone fron peacekeepers to peacemakers to even worse in participating in organizing or participating in torture? Ladies and Gentlemen of the Canadian press, we need to Not have Canadian history written by the PM’s staff but by facts! Your job is clear!

  62. 'our men and women in uniform'
    Well I'm pretty sure all 3 Generals wear a uniform.
    They are all 'decorated soldiers'.

    And I am pretty sure that Hillier was accused by Colvin of KNOWING Canadian detainees were being tortured,
    and turned a blind eye.
    Being accused of complicity in war crimes is
    'the most serious of allegations' and becoming more and more apparent that the allegations are ' based on the most flimsy of evidence'.

    Nothing in PMSHs statement is untrue,
    just like the flyers,
    just facts that Liberals don't like.

  63. I consider our soldiers to be anyone in uniform, including the generals. Colvin volunteered to replace Berry after he was killed. Killed I might add, right along side some of our soldiers. They are of the same caliber in my opinion.

    So why are we accusing them all of wrong doing and forcing them all to defend themselves? On the most flimsy evidence?

    • So then generals shouldn't be accountable for their decisions because we have to "support them?"

      Now all I need to know is which kind of salute am I supposed to do? The Roman Salute?

  64. So, Andrew … you see no lowball politics by the Liberals attempting to hang something that happened years ago around the gov'ts neck and smearing the PM with their faux outrage. You really are a piece of … work …!!!!

  65. The stupid thing is that the Conservatives actually have a defence. But they are so freaking incapable of understanding their own files that it is just easier to fall back on what they know best; partisan low blows.

  66. Mr Coyne….I see you are getting your CBC talking points ready for At Issue. How much does CBC pay you? Must be a bundle…..dispicable. How much money has the Liberals raised so far with their FUND RAISING on the backs of the military? Your all a bunch of Canadian military bashing smear artists…save your excuses. Your all a disgrace. I am sickened by this and so are our military. Walk a mile in their shoes.

  67. Yes he can carry a tune, but his act is wearing thin

  68. It's almost as if Harper's entire communications strategy says — Let's look as guilty as possible.

  69. Yes, yes it does.

  70. Andrew, in a previous comment, observes the difference between individual criticism and collective smear. And the PM is saying that any criticism at all is a collective smear, which it certainly is not.

    Anyone who's throwing down the nonsense meaningless content-free phrase "support the troops" is just being emptily dogmatic.

  71. If someone criticizes the Conservatives, well their just feeding us Liberal (or CBC) talking points. If somebody defends the Conservatives, their just pimping Conservative "talking points". More than once I've seen authors of blog pieces or opinion columns being accused of Liberal AND Conservative talking points in the same thread. Doesn't it ever get old?

  72. There you go, with your Maclean's talking points. Are they paying you? Or are you just angling for a delivery route?

  73. Their story has become more believable, but their every action suggests that they themselves don't believe it.

    More importantly, their every action suggests that we shouldn't believe them.

  74. …and we are to believe that their detainees once turned over were positively, for sure not tortured, while we are expected to believe Canadian detainees turned over were?
    With that many detainees turned over how is there any guarantee that no torture occurred without having Canadian troops watching the detainees 24/7?
    Like I said there is something wrong with this story,when only those coming from Canadian troops are the ones supposedly tortured.

  75. If you must know, I've been promised a job tying bundles of magazines together with those yellow strips of plastic. Delivery route. That is just so beneath me.

  76. Yes, but we should be careful. They may be telling the truth, but still acting in a way that suggests guilt. The reflex in politicians to dissemble, conceal and explain away is deeply embedded.

  77. That's just weaselly lawyerspeak justifying government obfuscation and stonewalling

    If the roles were reversed you'd be screaming for Liberal/NDP blood, right?

  78. Who cares what you think?

  79. Your the only one your neighbours dad should be mad at.A creep who uses a vet as a cructch,because you are too cowardly to back up your own statements.

    • I-R-O-N-Y

  80. Well, certainly there is something wrong with your understanding of the story, since nobody ever said that. What was said was that the Dutch were so concerned about the treatment they wanted to build a NATO detainee camp, and that the British and Dutch handed over far fewer detainees (which was eventually explained and not as incriminating as it sounds). Also, that our allies had far more robust methods of keeping track of their detainees, therefore were better able to ensure their proper treatment.

  81. I find myself in complete agreement with Mr. Coyne.

    My only frustration is this: Harper and the Conservatives have been leveling exactly this kind of baseless twaddle at New Democrats for years. It started when Jack Layton first began expressing concern about the mission – and Dawn Black about the treatment of detainees back in April 2006. There is not a soul in the NDP caucus who thinks ill of our men and women in the CF and we all know it. Yet only a few journalists and columnists raised eye-brows at the Conservatives’ slights back then.

    If the reason exaspiration has finally been reached with Harper over this tactic is because it now involves Liberals as well as New Democrats, it would give credence to “the longstanding tendency of the media to give short shrift to the NDP” which Norman Spector spoke about last week.

  82. "No one that I am aware of has made any criticism of the soldiers who handed over the prisoners to the Afghan security services"

    Is that true if you consider the MPCC investigation and Colvin's comments? Should we need to shy away from such criticism in order to participate in this conversation? I'd be impressed by somebody saying it's okay to criticize our soldiers and that's where the PM gets it wrong…

  83. And who cares what you think.

  84. Good for you Andrew. The PM's actions here were total BS.
    Good for you and your convictions to take a stance on this.
    I may not agree with you often, but I'd be lying if you didn't get me to think and reconsider several things.

    To all the sheep out here – for shame!
    Are your heads so far up up each others ars*s that you can't fathom some of the dirty things Harper does.
    I'm not so dramatic, where I see him as the devil.
    But you should be realistic, and not see him as an angel.
    It's easy to yell at the politicians that you hate. It takes courage to do the same to the ones that you like.

  85. How many Tory MP's, in the event of a general call-up, would pass basic training? They must be the most physically unfit caucus in the nation's history. And God forbid that any of them be made officers.

  86. Hey RM, I don't think that Stephen Harper said that in 1995, maybe you mean Elijha Harper? Of course, why would you actually use fact when fiction would do.….

  87. You know the Tories have gone off the rails when Senator Coyne is voicing his disgust.

  88. Harper is absolutely right and quite frankly HAD to stand up and side 100% with the troops if he didn't he might have had a muutiny – it's all so easy to be a media pundit or uber partisan web forum poster but quite another when you go grocery shopping with your kids and have other people whisper and stare at you and asking their parents why is it that ' the war criminal is out shopping and pointing at you and your kids (true story) ' or your child goes to school only to be bullied by several other kids that your Dad or Mom is a war criminal or well you get drift don't you? There comes a time in public discourse where appropriateness has to rule and our public airwaves and print have been filled with accusqaions about our forces turning over detainees who were tortured – this has been treated as a fact – WHO WAS TURNING THEM OVER? the soldiers – so guess who takes the heat?

  89. Robert, are you sure about the date? I went to the Parl. website to find that quote – the page is here – and it doesn't appear that the H of C was sitting on May 23/95.

  90. My neighbour's elderly father is a WWII vet. He's so angry with Harper you wouldn't believe it.

    He says Harper is using those fine kids (he means the troops) to hide. He says Hillier is not God and just because he's a general doesn't mean he's above the law and the truth.

    He also said, he feels, that the "kids" in Afghanistan have it harder than they did in WWII because of the type of enemy they're fighing, etc.

    Boy is he angry. He said that Harper is a weakling and acting like a chickensh**t kid (his words, not mine) hiding behind his mother's skirt.

    This vet lost a leg a a few fingers during WWII and says he didn't fight to end up being used for political partisan purposes – he fought proudly for "Canada" and to get rid of Hitler and did not fight for a political party.

  91. And who cares what you think?

    (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

  92. Message to Mr. Coyne. The Libs and the other opposition parties cannot sit on the pointy picket fence without getting pricked.

    They all say they agree with Colvin's testimony and have accused the government of a cover up and all manner of other things leading up to the hearings and in the House.

    Then the 3 generals and the most senior bureaucrat testify they had no evidence of Canadian detainess being tortured and the opposition say they do not believe them. How is that supporting the military. This is the leadership who are giving day to day orders to the troops on the ground.

    Contrary to popular belief the government did not run the day to day operations of the military in Afghanistan. If the generals and the diplomat say they did not have credible evidence of torture why would they advise the government otherwise.

    It lacks credibility and it is the opposition who are trying to blame the government for something the military says did not happen.

    They did say that when they had evidence they stopped the transfers and began negotiations to improve the agreement.

  93. hollinm continued…..

    While you may not agree and of course the opposition parties do not agree but the fact remains you cannot discredit the military leadership questioning their testimony and say you support the troops.

    Once again if there was no credible evidence of torture why would there be a discussion between the military brass and the government on the subject.

    Think man, think. What Harper is saying is true. The opposition have jumped on the bandwagon and endorsed what Colvin said without investigating his allocations. That leaves the military and the government in a position where they must refute the allegations.

  94. I am still against torture. But all the accusations being made do reflect on our troops because they allegedly handed Afghans over to be tortured and that is wrong.

  95. No, I think Harper, MacKay et al behaved as cowards who did not want to hear about the possible torture of detainees, because then they might have to do something about it. Then they have acted as cowards again in refusing to admit their neglect of their duty, preferring to smear anyone who speaks up for decency. I agree with the majority of Canadians in finding Colvin to be the most credible witness so far.

  96. It's here, search for "I do not intend to dispute" and you'll see it. Odd that there's no link to that day on the Hansard index you linked to.

  97. You can't. That's the problem. If under the scenario suggested the military leaderhship knew and ordered the ground troops to continue the transfer despite knowing the detainees may be tortured by extension they are guilty as well.

    We really don't want to go down that road. Troops follow orders but they are still obligated to follow the law and if they think they are being ordered to do something illegal they have a reponsibility.

  98. "Then the 3 generals and the most senior bureaucrat testify they had no evidence of Canadian detainess being tortured and the opposition say they do not believe them. How is that supporting the military"

    Who got to see the documents, the opposition or the generals? they haven't even had a chance to criticize the generals

    "It lacks credibility and it is the opposition who are trying to blame the government for something the military says did not happen'.

    Colvin begs to differ…it's the reason we're here,right?

  99. How about make sure it doesn't happen again? How about find out why it was so difficult to find out what happened in 2006?

    • The motion is to include 2001-Present and the LPOC will be called to testify I hope.

  100. Finally Andrew! I'm a fan, i really am…most of the time. But you've some way to go to catch colleague Wells on this one.

  101. "yes, you are war criminals, but it's all the Liberal's fault!"

    If it turns out our soldiers are indeed war criminals then it actually will be the Liberals fault because they negotiated the arrangement that led to what everyone is discussing now.

  102. Or build a defense case if the UN decides to throw Canada on the block.

  103. I'm a hopelessly clueless frenchie when it comes to english expressions so… no I don't know the rest.

    • "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."

      Je suis désolé.

  104. Well. he was indeed standing beside 'troops' when he said it. You have to give him that.

    • for what more Potted Plants? That's like praising someone for walking into a room and standing beside the security guard by chance.

  105. Thanks, Jack. Robert just made a mistake on the date – it was *March* 23, not May.

    Needless to say, there's a lot more there than that 1 paragraph, but people can read it for themselves if they want.

  106. What utter horses**t

  107. I'm pretty sure what the opposition is asking is a public inquiry to ascertain Colvin's testimony. I'm also pretty sure their accusations is that the government is refusing to pursue the inquiry and are trying to smear Colvin instead.

    Think man, think. If the opposition was so sure about Colvin's testimony they'd never mind the public inquiry and go straight to accuse the government of war crimes. Once you've wrapped your head around that concept, then try this one for size. If Colvin's testimony was false then an inquiry would reveal it as false. It's the Government who's being accused, and you're relying on the testimony of that same government to defend Harper's words. That's hardly fair isn't it.

  108. Actually, it will only be the liberals fault if the reports of torture were going to the liberal government. I have not heard anyone alleging the liberal government was told of torture. All I hear is the Harper government was told of torture.

  109. "some blowhard on AM radio."

    If you listened to his show, you might discover what real Canadians are saying outside your echo chamber.

  110. Lots of people are jerks, especially after they have been drinking.

    Try going to a bar in Alberta and saying something supportive of unions, or of the liberals, or of the NDP. Try going into a small town bar NOT wearing something that identifies you as a country/farm girl.

    Yes, I got yelled at a lot in bars before I learned it was best to pretend I was apolitical. I could never pass myself off as anything but a "city girl" though, so I still took a lot of heat.

    Like I said, people are jerks. You cannot judge everyone by the people you meet in bars.

  111. That was to ensure the discussion was about the comment, and to put the opposition on the defensive. Just another way to avoid talking about the real issue, because the real issue is something Harper et al are trying to avoid.

  112. They were never legally in a stronger position in the Cadman affair.

  113. Generally not. Most people, so far as I'm aware, consider Generals to be quasi-politicians/lobbyists, since they're the ones who advise politicians.

    But you keep spinning that. You stand onside the folks who took our soldier's reports and concerns and basically looked for ways to hush them up rather than taking steps to deal with the issue.

  114. From where I stand, it seems pretty evident that the 'chattering class' has been obsessed with so-called torture (but only if they can somehow stick it to the Americans or now Canadians) ever since the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet I have yet to ever read the slightest condemnation of an enemy that does not abide by the Geneva Conventions, deliberately targets women and children by the hundreds if not thousands, and undoubtedly uses torture as a matter of course. I'm sorry but I really don't give a damn what tactics are used against an enemy that operates in this manner, just defeat them and lets not lose more Canadian lives. This is a smear on our troops, and if you can't see it, Andrew, maybe you should think about getting an eye exam.

  115. "Their story has become more believable, but their every action suggests that they themselves don't believe it."

    If their story is true, there is no justification for the way they have conducted themselves.

    Even if they are telling the truth, how do we get past the petty, deeply partisan reaction such as that indicated in your post?

    Is it too much to ask our government to be responsible and to behave like adults and treat Canadians like adults? If they are telling the truth surely this could have been settled weeks ago.

    • "Is it too much to ask our government to be responsible and to behave like adults and treat Canadians like adults? If they are telling the truth surely this could have been settled weeks ago."
      We're talking about the House of Commons, right? Behave like adults? I think I'll quote Rick Mercer on this one:
      "The one thing you can always rely on about Question Period is this: no matter how badly behaved the members were on your last visit, things will have gotten way worse.
      Question Period now is like your grade-seven class if your teacher had left you alone for give minutes to go out for a smoke and never returned. Any pretence of civility has left the building."

  116. Harper must be desperate to use that old, old low man point. Canadians know the soldiers do what they're told and Canadians know the orders are from the top down. This is not about patriotism, this is about ignoring important memos that he did read, for 18 months!! That makes him a criminal and he should be pulled from his post until we get a proper inquiry.

  117. Vet as a crutch? How stupid. He said what he said. He's a great guy, even though a little crusty at times. But, I think he has a right to his opinion after what he's been through.

    He has the most respect for our current troops.

    Too cowardly to back up my own statements? What statements?

    You're pathetic.

  118. Ahhh .. finally your beloved Liberals have an issue on which to build their policies and go to Canadians in a general election … TORTURE …!!!

    Colvin will be upheld as a brave whistleblower exposing {{{torture}}} having occurred to the Taliban prisoners they took and handed over to the Afghan authorities.

    Yes !!!! …. the "t" word will rally the Canadian MSM and all Canadians behind lapsed Canadian Ignatieff and his wife who is not a Canadian ….. because Canadians cherish their international reputation more than their principles .. like you Andy ..!!!!

  119. Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said Buck's comments raise the question how ministers can feel so confident in making conclusive statements that there have been no proven cases of torture, save for one in November 2007.

  120. You'd certainly discover what real Americans are thinking.

  121. With this government, you can't

  122. Well, mostly because the government hasn't seen fit to have the evidence forthcoming–unless you're a friendly reporter, that is. Seriously, can you provide some insight as to why Colvin himself can't get access to the memos HE WROTE ostensibly because of security concerns, yet retired (as in no longer military) generals can see them all? Or that the committee is STILL waiting for translations in spite of the Bloc having waived the two official languages requirement?

    Colvin's assertions are serious ones, in my opinion. We need to understand what happened and, if necessary, ensure it doesn't happen again. It could be as simple as Colvin remembering earlier drafts of the memos as if they were the final versions. It is really too bad of the government to put our respected military and diplomatic servants in this position.

    • "It is really too bad of the government to put our respected military and diplomatic servants in this position"

      Yes, it is.

      And if the truth comes out and we find that this they have been playing political games with our soldiers and diplomats then I hope they will be made to pay. And the same goes if it's the opposition who has been found to be using this issue just to make the government look bad. They both have a reputation for doing just that.

  123. I question both of your knowledge of 'a tune'…

  124. Agreed and it shows that Harper doesn't care if everyone knows he is trash talking, as long as he doesn't have to talk about the real issue. As Andrew Coyne put it, the behavior of someone who does not believe his own story.

  125. Forget the supposed war criminals, I just want to go to the grocery store and whisper and stare at 'the geek they let out of the cupboard' called pisclone.

  126. Very well said and appropriate. There are too many that want to surgically remove the combat troops from the leadership in order to tar and feather the government simply for a gotcha moment. It is a shame that it has to be this way.

  127. There will be no inquiry. Are you going to bring a pile of people in front of a judge and try to prove something that is impossible to prove. Are you going to find the detainees and bring them back to Canada to testify. If our detainees were tortured don't you think there would be some evidence by now? There are national security issues to be considered here. Oh, I know don't worry about it. Right? How does that help Canada by accusing the government of war crimes. Are we not worried about own reputation would be hurt just so we can try to prove something that happened two and half years ago. You do gooders make me sick. The country is at war. Our soldiers are being blown up and all you can think about is detainees that may or may not have been tortured. Its disgusting.

  128. Well, presumably people like Kat don't grasp the implications.

  129. Andrew…you are beginning to sound like the NDP. Sanctimonious!

  130. Question: Once you have the answers what would you do about something that allegedly happened in 2006?

  131. the voice that represents your views is the true voice of real Canadians huh? Hmmm…..

  132. He does better than just get away with it which means the shame is on us.

  133. How come you rant on about this, but ignore the Climategate documents. Which has a bigger impact globally?

  134. I believe Harper's comments were about guy's like Dosanjh and Dewar, and the other Extreme Left MP's who came out blasting credible war heroes like Hillier and other Generals. It would seem to me that if you are attacking a General's credibility, as the Liberals did, than to say they don't support the soldiers is quite credible. The real question is about the complacency of the press to go along for the ride with the opposition on this shameful smear-fest, and then to try and smear the PM for his comments to the Troops. The media entirely ignored that the Liberals were using this as a fundraising tool. Where is your outrage on that one Coyne? This is a very light-weight post if i have ever see one and i assume you are just upset because Blatchford got the story and not any of the Press Gallery wannabes.

  135. If detainees were/are being tortured then I'm afraid it's too late for our reputation. If we don't willingly investigate our own practices on peace keeping/making missions then our military reputation worldwide will be hurt.

    Don't believe for a second this will not bite us back in 10, 15, 20 years time.

  136. I believe that unlike Wallin and Duffy Mr. Coyne has way to much integrity to accept even if it were offered. I do not agree with all of his positions but in defending them he never stoops to the abuse and personnal attacks which typify the Harper conservatives. As Mr Coyne points out, what is being attacked is the doubtful integrity and competance of the government. That as the lying cowards that they are they choose to try to hide behind our troops is despicable. No further proof is needed that they are not fit to be the government of Canada.

  137. Funny how those who claim to "stand behind our troops" are the same ones who stand by and let the Government abuse the troops by using them as a shield to try and hide bad Government decisions.

    Questioning Government policy is not criticizing Cdn soldiers. Not even close. And proud Canadians should not allow our soldiers to be mis-used this way.

  138. "Soldiers…in our streets…with guns"

    Nuff said?

  139. My neighbour is a vet from WWII. He's a crusty bastard too.

    He says Michael Ignatieff is disgusting. This vet says that Michael Ignatieff wants to ship billions over to China in carbon credits so they can build up their military and take over Asia. This vet think the Liberals have been in the pockets of the Chinese military-indsutrial complex since Trudeau was in power.

    This vet thinks that when young soldiers in Afghanistan see how the Liberals only care about Afghanistan if they can make a war crime of the miltary's conduct, they get de-moralized. He thinks the Liberals are sending the message to the military that they are clueless gumps fighting for torture-lovers.

    Just passing on the comment of my neighbour the vet.

  140. Utter BS and you know it. It's you talking, so obvious.


  141. No. If it were me talking, I'd be talking about how badly this issue has hurt Canada's relationship with the International Red Cross.

  142. "Our soldiers know which side they're on. So does the government, our diplomats and our bureaucracy. "

    No, it's not that simple; the vicious partisan jerk Harper and his government of thugs have been attacking and intimidating the diplomats and the bureaucracy for years. The Harper government has done serious harm to Canada and they will continue destroying our democracy and our international reputation as long as they are in office. Harper does not care about Canada; he's the worst prime minister we ever had.

    Canadians do not expect our soldiers to be mindless robots.

  143. Shame on you. don't you care that Harper smeared our troops. No one has accused them but him.

  144. Actually, I think what you meant to say was that the Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP EDA made the argument that bringing democracy through violence is problematic because distinguishing the enemy from the innocent is difficult and "no matter how noble our intentions" our troops may kill innocents which in turn makes our soldiers easy targets for others.

    I'm sure you wouldn't want to purposefully mislead people right?

  145. "Nuff said?"

    I doubt it!!!

  146. "Vicious partisan jerk…'


    I was actually defending the previous Liberal government responsible for the deficiencies in question, as if anyone's best is ever going to be good enough here. It matters not to me which government it is defending itself in such a no win scenario, my wagons circle the same way every time.

    I simply see no greater good in undoing everything our soldiers and diplomats (remember Glyn Berry?) have bled for so you have a chance to take down whatever Cabinet Minster or General in your way.

    Your petty partisanship does not trump my country.

    • Easy there Usual Suspect. She's just a kid.

  147. I believe Harper's comments were about guy's like Dosanjh and Dewar, and the other Extreme Left MP's who came out blasting credible war heroes like Hillier and other Generals. It would seem to me that if you are attacking a General's credibility, as the Liberals did, than to say they don't support the soldiers is quite credible. The real question is about the complacency of the press to go along for the ride with the opposition on this shameful smear-fest, and then to try and smear the PM for his comments to the Troops. The media entirely ignored that the Liberals were using this as a fundraising tool. Where is your outrage on that one Coyne? This is a very light-weight post if i have ever see one and i assume you are just upset because Blatchford got the story and not any of the Press Gallery wannabes.

  148. If Mr. Trudeau were PM at this time, there would be no need for an inquiry. Mr. Trudeau would just take responsibility by saying, “Yes we F/up by allowing our detainees to be possibily subjected to torture, by the Afghanis. The initial plan was flawed. When we heard rumours of torture, we investigated and made changes to the flawed plan. These are the changes and here is our objective evidence confirming no more detainees are being harmed.”

    I’d never ever vote for Stephen Harper, but I could respect the man if he could just once admit his is not perfect and take responsibility for the consequences, from events occurring under his watch! Unfortunately this PM never will. He will always find a scapegoat or patsy, to take the blame. He’ll use whatever he has it his means to create plausible deniability. This is Harper’s biggest flaw, his inability to admit his accountibility to bad outcomes.

    • Wow, that's quite a gift you have, being able to know what dead politicians would have done had they been facing today's issues. But that's right, I forgot — Trudeau was an unvarnished saint, wasn't he? And God knows, he was never, ever accused of trumping human rights via heavy-handed military action . . .

  149. Do you imagine they are accomplishing anything in Afghanistan? I'm sorry, I think every Canadian soldier who died there, along with Glyn Berry, died for no good reason, just because Liberal and Conservative politicians wanted to suck up to the US.

  150. Fair enough, but nobody could ever argue that he didn't take full responsibility for it :)

  151. If Trudeau were alive today, he would have found a cure for AIDS. And bad weather.

    • There was no bad weather when Trudeau was PM.

  152. Torture them all you want. Hand them over, walk away. It's not Canada's job to tell the government of Afghanistan what or how, to deal with their own citizens. Period.

    This whole issue, be it a Liberal or Conservative issue, it really just doesn't matter. Try this comparison: the Government of the USA starts telling Canada that we should execute murders. They 'insist' that to do otherwise is a violation of (pick one) convention or another. They (Americans) jump up and down and make an international incident about our 'lack' of resolve bla bla bla. Most Canadians would get quite huffy that the U.S. was telling us how to run our affairs. This Afghanistan torture issue is EXACTLY the same. Our soldiers catch them, give them to the LAWFULLY elected democaratic government of Afghanistan. End of our responsibility.

    his is an NON issue.

  153. ICC (International Criminal Court) is looking at this situation, too. If they do decide to prosecute, who will they go after: the politicians, the bureaucrats, or the soldiers who did the actual handing-over? Some people need their heads examined when they fail to see the wide-ranging repercussions of the clash between civilization and non-civilization.

    • That's right, and everyone currently throwing around the accusation of "war crimes" should consider that.

  154. Seriously? Man, look at the reaction to all these comments (not just my benign link). Even with Andrew Coyne on staff, Maclean's readers are still lefties and down-vote anyone or anything that doesn't join in on the right-bashing?

  155. oh, I forfot to add: These Taliban fighters are NOT covered by the Geneva Convention. Nada, NOPE! They must wear a proper uniform to easily be distinguished from the civilian population for the Geneva Convention to protect them. They easily COULD have a uniform. They deliberately chose not to wear one because they prefer to hide behind women and children as human-shields. They are so brave. I hope all of them feel the pain of torture that they are so willing to inflict on the helpless citizens of Afghanistan. Shooting, stoning, beheading, burnning the faces with acid and hanging of people for playing music, apostasy, dissent, female education…..