'Beneath the office' - Macleans.ca
 

‘Beneath the office’


 

In a written statement, Michael Ignatieff responds to Stephen Harper’s comments.

“Stephen Harper’s comments are beneath the office of Canada’s prime minister.

“To use an audience of active Canadian service men and women serving abroad  as a prop for political attacks is bad enough.  To try to hide behind the brave men and women in uniform for his own government’s handling of the Afghan detainee scandal is even worse.

“Mr. Harper’s performance today only underlines the need for a full public inquiry into his government’s handling and apparent cover up of the detainee issue.”


 

‘Beneath the office’

  1. "To use an audience of active Canadian service men and women serving abroad as a prop for political attacks is bad enough."

    I think it is good that our PM spoke out in favour of our armed services, they have had demoralizing time recently. Everything is not all about you, Iggy/Liberals.

    "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."

    • The navy has recently been demoralised by what happened in Afghanistan in 2006?

      • No, they were expecting Cher to show up and do her Turn Back Time song, part of her really, really, really going away final tour. Instead, all they got was some fat guy in a suit wearing a grey helmet.

    • See, I don't see this as Harper coming out "in favour" of our armed forces, as I don't think any one is "against" our armed forces. The way I see it, this is Harper using our service members as a shield. To me, he's basically saying "The opposition isn't attacking the government and high ranking military officials for letting you down and putting you in an impossible situation, they're attacking YOU!!!". He's deflecting. He's taking shots aimed at him, his Ministers and the CDS and trying to make it seem like these are attacks on the troops in the field.

      How deflecting his problems on to the soldiers, sailors and airmen serving in uniform is supposed to help their morale is a bit confusing to me.

      • Exactly. Using our soldier as human shields.

        Beneath contempt.

        • Thugs.

        • THEY DON'T SUPPORT THE TROOPS!!!

          Can somebody accuse Iggy of child abuse somehow, so I can cross off another square on my right wing crazy argument bingo card!

      • I'm sure you meant to say "this is Harper using our service members as a prop".

        • No, I meant shield, in the sense that he seems to be deflecting criticism that's aimed at him and his ministers and high ranking military officials on to the service members in the field. In as much as his rhetoric says "these aren't attacks against me, they're attacks against YOU" he's shielding himself from the attacks by pretending he's not the object of the attacks.

          That said, I didn't like "My pseudonym here"'s characterization as the troops being used as HUMAN shields, which presents an implication I didn't intend.

          • Oh, I understood you. And you are absolutely right.

            But he is also using them and their sacrifices and the risks they take as a prop.

      • Harper doesn't care about our Force's morale. He doesn't care about them one whit except what they can do for him. They can give him a raised profile in the world by fighting and dying in Afghanistan. They can give him a boost with the voters when he can invoke our brave young men and women's gift of protection to us, his fellow Canadians (yeah as though he thinks that).

        Harper never does anything without his end purpose in mind – to conservatize Canada and to win his majority. And to a minor lesser degree, destroy the Liberal Party. Those are his goals and he will sell anything, use anything to get there.

  2. So you're saying the navy is pretty hard to fool.

    • I heard Harper claim not one Bolivian ship has ever successfully gotten out of the country on his watch.

      • He's watched the ocean without Paz.

      • That gives me Paz.

        • Bowler hats on sale – 100p.

          • Thanks, I had no incaling.

  3. How can Harper treat them with such disrespect, like a prop in his re-election campaign?

    This is about civilian oversight and he wants to make it about them?

    Dispicable.

    Again, airing his own dirty laundry on the international stage. Dispicable and embarrassing.

    I have to say I am impressed and surprised that Ignatieff is so quick to hit back so hard. Don't know if it is Donollo or what. But I like it.

  4. Le Scandal for this coming week. Sneak Preview.

    Purchase advance tickets now!

    And by the way, while you all want to believe it's about the politicians and the bureaucrats, it's the soldiers who did the alleged act and it is them who will be charged with war crimes.

    So, lets all encourage the liberals to continue with this line of attack. It's okay, our soldiers are tough, they can take it.

    • That's pretty dispicable of you too, Kat, claiming our soldiers have committed war crimes.

      Do you have any evidence of war crimes? Did you see any war crimes committed? If not, why accuse them of it? You are just a Taliban dupe, aiding and abetting our murderous enemy.

      • There you go, now your catching on.

        The better question is…Does Colvin have any evidence of war crimes? Did Colvin see or does he know anyone who has seen war crimes comitted? If not, why did he accuse them of it? Yes, he was very careful to not accuse them directly, instead he says he told the government about the military turning over detainees who had a real potential to be tortured and nobody listened.

        The military was called in to defend their actions. Those 3 Generals were called on the carpet in full dress uniform to answer to those allegations. And somehow the soldier is not supposed to feel that it's about them and their actions. Our troops in Afghanistan have to be thinking "WTF Over".

    • I call bullsh*t. The soldiers obeyed orders. The soldiers did not go into the prisons to see that all was as it should be, they were told that was being handled by other personnel. They were told an agreement was put in place that the Afghanis were not torturing, and that everything was fine. Are you suggesting the soldiers should not believe their own chain of command? Are you suggesting a soldier should take the order under advisement and let his commanding officer know whether he will obey it after he does the due diligence the government is supposed to do on his behalf? Whether that is Canada's New Government, the Harper Government, or simply The Government of Canada, the soldier must rely on his government in order to do his job. It isn't the soldier's actions that may be at fault here, it's the government's. And we don't even know that yet, but they sure are making it hard to believe anything else.

      • So why did they call into question what the Generals knew, when they knew it and how they reacted?

        I'm not defending the government, I'm saying that we are questioning the military while we question the government. Know that and appreciate what it says to the soldiers in the war zone.

        • Sorry Kat. No-one over there has a blank cheque…no Harper, not Mackay and not Hillier. By your logic we should all just shut our eyes and take one for the boys and girls.

          ' I'm saying that we are questioning the military while we question the government."

          The feelings of the troops in the field do not trump democratic oversight. If we want to avoid this perhaps one way to do it is to lower the political temperature. Not, as Harper has done ratchet it up some more…but that's his bag…at least much of the time.

          • I'm not saying anyone should have a blank cheque, I'm saying we can all do without all the drama until the facts are available.

            "…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…"

            That is the partisan shot that Harper took and Ignatieff is all offended about. Is it not true? Are there not those in the political arena who are throwing around the most serious of allegations (war crimes) based on flimsy evidence? Do we have better evidence? No but we won't hesitate to summons the Generals to testify at the committee. We criticize Mulroney for inviting himself to defend his reputation but we give a direct order to 3 distinguished retired military officers to attend and then question their integrity.

            And we couldn't give a rat's ass if this destroys morale for the boots on the ground.

          • Having a government which looks the other way on torture must be the real moral destroyer for troops.

          • Exactly. The soldiers are out there risking their lives for something many of believe in and that the government has asked them to do.

            They trust that the government and rely on the government to make decisions based on their interests and not on political cover-up.

            How would you feel as a soldier if you've been told to round up some suspected Taliban sympathizers for further investigation, then told to hand them over to Afghan prisons. You hear rumours of torture, but assume the government oversight would investigate and stop the program if that was the case. But it turns out that you better keep your own mouth shut or else you'll get it like Colvin.

            Now you know that when you hand over the detainees there might be torture and the government cares more about its own behind than the position they are putting you in.

          • Who is talking about war crimes Kat? Who has accused any soldier of war crimes? Stop making stuff up just to let Harper off the hook.

            As for partisanship and throwing grenades and "summoning" the Generals "in full uniform", let's try to have at least some acknowledgement that there is a real world out there with a real timeline and that we don't get to just make stuff up because it helps let Harper off the hook.

            So let's go over some of the timeline here. Word spreads that a senior bureaucrat has some very serious allegations. Harper does everything in his power to prevent said bureaucrat to attend the committee hearings. Months of fighting over this, perhaps more. Colvin finally comes forward with some extremely damning statements about the administration of detainees after they have been handed off. He tells us that the civilian oversight, right up to the Minister of Defence, knew about it. The reaction of the opposition? Let's ask some questions of the government and get to the bottom of this – when did our government know about these allegations and what did they do about it? That is exactly the role of the opposition.

        • So when Harper gave his little speech the other night, he was really talking to the top military brass? Or is there a difference between the soldier on the ground and his highest military commanders. It is unfortunate that the questions must be asked, but generals are not above the law. We have a very sad reminder that at least one time previously generals thought they were above the law with the Somalia affair–when the top military brass directly lied to our Prime Minister's face. Doesn't mean they're doing it here, but it doesn't mean they aren't, either.

          Someone is not being forthcoming with the truth–it is either Colvin, the generals, or MacKay and O'Connor. Personally, I don't like any of those choices, but those choices do not include the soldiers on the ground because they had nothing to do with the problem.

    • In your desparate attempt to demonize the opposition (and don't give me your fake concern troll shtick, I've seen it before) perhaps you've forgotten that the reason we know of this is because our soldiers reported concerns and on more than one occasion, stopped the transfer of prisoners when they thought there was going to be a problem. This is known and has been acknowledged by all parties. If anything, our soldiers, who acted responsibly and passed this info up the chain of command, were betrayed by their higher ups when people we're told not to write anything down about it, and the governments of the time (first Liberal, than Conservative) both tried to hide what was going on.

      Care to spin again?

      • Did the government look the other way? Did the Generals? The soldiers stopped the transfer – would that not be indication that the system was working? So there would be nothing to look away from? Was there a problem in 2006 and were the right people properly notified? Who is telling the truth?

        Let's all take a guess and immediately go public with it regardless of what it does to the reputation of those they are accusing. Let's take everything Colvin has to say at face value, look him square in the eye and determine his account is accurate and vilify everyone else involved without being PATIENT enough to wait for the evidence to be cleared for public viewing.

        "Someone is not being forthcoming with the truth–it is either Colvin, the generals, or MacKay and O'Connor. Personally, I don't like any of those choices, but those choices do not include the soldiers on the ground because they had nothing to do with the problem. "

        Exactly! And with any luck, the emails will soon be made available and the speculation can end. And hopefully all those people who used these events for simple political gain will be called on the carpet for it.

  5. Sadly, Harper sees the Men and Women serving in the Canadian Armed Forces just like he sees the rest of us. As voters to be manipulated to his advantage.

    We already know that Stephen Harper will be the next Ex-PM of Canada, Let's get on with it .

    • No, not as voters, but as a weapon to use against voters.

      • There is that angle as well. He is devisive.

  6. Beneath the office, but not the office holder.

    • And to think it looked momentarily hopeful after Matin got turfed?

  7. […cont.]
    The reaction of the government? Immediately to go on the attack – attack Colvin's credibility, his bona fides, attack the Liberals (both former and current), attack the media, bring the soldiers into this, call the generals in to report in full uniform to attack Colvin (and let them see confidential documents even Colvin isn't allowed to see), call other bureaucrats to attack Colvin, "leak" some but only some of Colvin's emails to a friendly journalist to do your Colvin attacking for you.

    The Conservative reaction is very very revealing if you ask me. They know they screwed up, they don't care because it's only Taliban detainees who may have been tortured even though Colvin said it was not just them. They know they are extremely vulnerable so a scorched earth policy is required. Who cares if their reaction makes our soldiers look bad, who cares if the soldiers have to be used as political props and shields to save Harper, who cares if a man they continued to promote has his reputation destroyed, who cares if they have to lie about all of this to get out of this.

  8. Hey, Harper, our soldiers can take a punch.

  9. Frankly, I think Iggy's comments are beneath contempt.There is never anything wrng with the PM of Canada standing up for our men and women in uniform.

    • Is there something wrong with the PM pretending attacks against him and his government are actually attacks against our men and women in uniform? By all means there is never anything wrong with the PM defending our men and women in uniform from attack, the problem is deflecting attacks against him on to them, and PRETENDING they're being attacked when he and his Ministers are the ones being attacked.

    • Problem is our PM is hiding behind, not standing up for, our men and women in uniform. lol. Or don't you believe that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel?

  10. If I had any doubts about Colvin's allegations, the Conservative reaction has confirmed for me that there is a great deal to it.

  11. That same Harper when in opposition would act as if our soldiers were not in Afghanistan. Canada was a wimp country not standing by our best friends, he used to say, choosing to ignore our mission in Afghanistan. I agree with Lord Kitchener: the PM is using the army as a shield.

  12. Well, sure, Kat, and I would wholeheartedly agree with you, except that this has been going on for ages–far longer than just the parliamentary committee. We first heard about it through the Military Police Complaints Tribunal, which tried to look into this very thing–military on military as it were and much more low key. The government put every roadblock possible in the way of this tribunal, from preventing witnesses from testifying, to ending the head of the Tribunal's mandate before the job was done, to (this is the important part) refusing to allow the documents from being seen by the tribunal. The tribunal asked for them probably a year ago by now! I think patience is a virtue, but that's just ridiculous.

    I do take your point that reputations are being sullied without all the facts known, but that is hardly a charge to be levelled only at the opposition. The government has done its fair share as well (plus being the cause of the facts staying unknown). And again, when I say view the documents, or get the evidence, or anything like that, I don't mean the general public!

  13. "Did the government look the other way? Did the Generals? The soldiers stopped the transfer – would that not be indication that the system was working? So there would be nothing to look away from? Was there a problem in 2006 and were the right people properly notified? Who is telling the truth? Let's all take a guess and immediately go public with it regardless of what it does to the reputation of those they are accusing."

    Actually, I think you have it backwards, Kat. Those are the very questions that the Liberals are asking. I'm not aware of any accusations, just questions. And it is Harper who is doing everything he can so that (1) those questions can't get asked, (2) if they are asked then the questioner is demonized (the subject of this post) and not given answers (won't release emails, etc.), and (3) if they questions are asked and answered (by Colvin), then demonize the responder.