'Disparaging remarks, rhetorical flourishes are not going to help us get to the bottom of this issue' - Macleans.ca

‘Disparaging remarks, rhetorical flourishes are not going to help us get to the bottom of this issue’


Even at sea, the Prime Minister sticks to the high road.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a partisan shot at his opposition critics while touring the HMCS Quebec in Trinidad-Tobago Sunday.

The Canadian ship and navy officers are helping with security for the Commonwealth summit. Harper, in brief comments to the Canadians, was addressing allegations that Canadian civilian and military leaders ignored warnings of a risk of torture in Afghan prisons.

“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.”


‘Disparaging remarks, rhetorical flourishes are not going to help us get to the bottom of this issue’

  1. based on the most flimsy of evidence

    Sure sounds like he has the utmost regard for Richard Colvin and his testimony.

    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.

    Is the implication that the opposition parties are not proud of the soldiers, otherwise they would not raise these issues? Is that fair?

    These kind of comments just rub salt in open wounds – it's like he just can't help himself. He just has to get the last word in, doesn't he?

    • Is the implication that the opposition parties are not proud of the soldiers, otherwise they would not raise these issues? Is that fair?

      Yes and yes. If they couldn't see this line of counterattack coming, they didn't plan their scandalmongering very well.

      • Well, sure, that the Tories would paint the opposition as terrorist-loving, soldier-hating, unpatriotic traitors is no surprise.

        Harper's line of attack still makes me throw up a bit in my mouth though.

        • Many propoganda ministers of various governments in the past also saw this line of defence as a perfect foil to sway public opinion. Don't need to point out which ones, but let's see if the media/talking heads sift through Harper's contemptible afront or just trump it up for him…

      • I am not opposed to the Conservatives as a party, but SH as the leader? No thank you. I find his antics unpalatable, and the aftertaste is Rovian.
        It was about a year ago that he was kicking sand with his fall economic statement. He's still marching around the sandbox like King of the Hill, looking for faces to kick more sand at. Not a style I appreciate or respect.

  2. …and slowly a tear fell down the cheek of a very proud Karl Rove.

  3. Harper's a pig.

  4. Does this man not have a handler to tell him to keep his mouth shut?

    • Who would he listen to?

      • Well thats the problem isn't it.

        • Apparently, the magic mirror's in the Cosco repair shop, and the clown concave one only makes Harper think his hips are skinny-minnie miller esque…

  5. This "straw man" motive has taken over the right wing messaging in Canada. It worked so well for Bush/Cheney etc.
    Self righteous outrage over injustices that don't exist. It blurs the real issue and smears your opponent at the same time. Harper, Hillier and Blatchford and all their fellow travelers are the real traitors
    At least this msm writer, Joanna Smith is ready to do some mild calling out:
    "In recent days, Harper and his ministers have framed the controversy as an attack on the military by the opposition,"
    Not likely to get any interviews with Cons in the future

    • Jim Travers came close to calling out Blatchford today on QP when he said, in effect (can't remember exact quote) that, we all know the Harper government's attitude about leaks – are you and the Globe up to here in legal actions? Blatchford looked blank for a moment before she said, well, it's Sunday, nothing much happens. Travers looked about as angry today about this issue as I've ever seen him given his normally low key demeanor.

    • In what way is Hillier a traitor? Please explain.

      • By framing an attack on the government and it policies as an attack on the military.
        In effect giving the gov't cover by involving the soldiers. That is traitorous behavior.

  6. "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." –Samuel Johnson

  7. If I were a member of the CF, I'd wonder why the CPC is so keen to invent anti-military feeling.

    • That was my feeling.

      How many Canadians have been paying attention to the detail so far? Clearly, not a single Liberal, Bloc or NDPer has said anything negative about the soldiers, and the focus has been 100% on the bureaucrats and the politicians who directed where detainees should go and what they knew about that.

      So now Harper invents this line of attack and suddenly Canadians start paying a little more attention: some will shout out booyahh, others will say "our soldiers are involved in this? Hmmmm."

    • Exactly. Harper has taken an attack on himself, his Ministers and his senior military officials and deflected it on to the troops in the field. "They're not attacking ME," he's saying "they're attacking YOU".

      A real leader would say to the personnel in the field "These attacks in the House and in the media are attacks against myself and the government. They're not attacks on you men and women in the field and the fine work that you do, and you need to remember that, and remember how proud Canadians are of your work". Instead, Harper come out and basically says the opposite.

  8. "He just has to get the last word in, doesn't he?"

    He wishes.

  9. Sleazy.

  10. Stehphen Harper makes another lame attempt to muddy the water. The problem is not with the Armed Forces, it is with their civilian overseers in the Conservative government.


    Conflation: Conflation occurs when concepts, sharing some characteristics of one another, become confused until there seems to be only a single identity — the differences appear to become lost. [1] In logic, the practice of treating two distinct concepts as if they were one does often produce error or misunderstanding — but not always — as a fusion of distinct subjects tends to obscure analysis of relationships which are emphasized by contrasts.

  11. Is this a masterstroke by Harper? I can't tell… who should I ask? Blatchford, Spector… Taber?

  12. LGen Gauthier stated during his testimony in front of the defence committee that he and his wife were watching a political show, Power Play I believe, when he was mentioned by name and accused of what could amount to war crimes.

    Gen Hillier is the most admired CDS the military has ever had. When he was testifying before the committee, he was doing that to defend himself against the allegations made by Colvin.

    The media has made this out to be a huge deal – Canadians everywhere should be ashamed! Ashamed of what? Well, ashamed of how the military treated the detainees.

    So Harper says: Don't listen to the noise, the squeaking wheels always get the news coverage.

    And y'all come on to him for taking partisan shots? Holly Crap!

    Hey, wanna know a secret? The guys a politician you know. Just like every other MP in the house. They all take partisan shots at one another.

    Sleazy? No sleazier than treating 3 retired Generals as war criminals just to make the sitting government look bad. I think these 3 men have served their country enough already.

    • Nice attempt at a deflection.

      The opposition has been very clear and careful about asking questions – and frankly, questions only, I'm not aware of any statements of culpability even made by any of them – about civilian oversight. Who in government knew what and when and what did they do about it.

      As for "the guys a politician" so whatcha gonna do… that is extremely weak. Politicians point their fingers and yap away at each other in the House, accusing each other of this that and whatever, I suppose. But Harper has gone on the international stage and, for no higher purpose than to score a few political points, brings the soldiers into this.

      Being a politician is no free pass on decency.

      • Oh it wasn't an attempt to give him a free pass. I'm just tired of all, ALL the false outrage.

        This was an example of Harper standing beside the troops – not behind and not in front. We are all in this together and our soldiers NEED to know that they are supported back home.

        So watching their CDS (ret'd) go before committee and defend himself and his decisions against alleged war crimes and then to have it blown up into a circus by the media…enough already.

        How many soldiers do you think are sitting in Kandahar right now wondering if they make a mistake in battle if they will be thrown to the wolves. If it can happen to the most revered CDS ever…it can surely happen to lowly corporal or lieutenant.

    • "The guys a politician you know. Just like every other MP in the house. "

      Come to think of it, I think you've hit on the very reason Harper is so disliked by people who might otherwise vote for him and why he gains no traction in the population at large.

      He's a politician, just like every other MP.

      You would think that a Prime Minister would stand out from the crowd, be something more or different than every other MP. But he never is. He's always this Leader of the Opposition attack dog.

  13. The testimony of the 3 generals and Mr. David Mulroney was very convincing… they hit every nail on the head. But the opposition, now that their H1N1 outrage has been silenced, is desparate to find another cause celebre. It is so obvious that their minds are made up… no testimony will be convincing to them if it doesn't fit with their preconceived notions. Paul Dewar thinks he hit a home run with his question to Mr. Mulroney, and he's been bragging about it ever since. I have a question for Paul Dewar. Does he have a wife, and if so can he prove he stopped beating her? Isn't it true that one can never prove a negative?

    • "The testimony of the 3 generals and Mr. David Mulroney was very convincing"

      Absolutely right, Bettie–but so was Colvin's. Colvin had nothing to gain by his testimony, and a lot to lose. The others did have something to gain, which isn't saying they stretched things at all, just that they had a motive for doing so. So, what to do? I know! Let's see the documents in question! You know, the top secret memos that were given to at least three private citizens so far but are too secret to show the MPs on the parliamentary committee.

      Or what the heck, let's just say we blame the whole nonsense on the average soldier instead.

      • "I know! Let's see the documents in question…"

        Oh yes let's… and lose the confidence of our allies.

        • Right. . . because none of our allies have oversight committees of their military. And, giving the documents to private citizens is WAY better than parliamentarians!

          I didn't mean WE would get to see the documents, just the committee. But I know you knew that.

  14. Red Cross rebukes diplomat over Afghan torture allegations

    By Matthew Fisher
    Canwest News Service
    November 29, 2009

    KABUL, Afghanistan — A senior Red Cross official has criticized a Canadian diplomat for publicly alleging the organization believed Canada handed detainees over to Afghan authorities knowing they would likely be tortured.

    “What (Richard) Colvin has said publicly has put us in an awkward situation. What he claims to know should not be put out in a public place,” said Eloi Fillion, deputy director of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, where it has a staff of 120 foreigners and 1,500 locals…


    • He did not refute the allegations, just lamented that they have become public. Not exactly the "gotcha" you were looking for, troll-wilson.

      • In fact, its basically an admission of the truth of the statement, although wishing it had not hit the public domain. Thanks for bringing that to our attention, Wilson.

  15. cont…But the lawyer and French citizen (Red Cross official) indirectly cast serious doubt on whether Colvin would have been informed if Red Cross officials had significant concerns that Canadian soldiers or officials had violated international humanitarian laws.

    • Do you ever stop digging for dirt Wilson? I know, you're just a concerned citizen.

  16. Harper really is a coward. He could, as LKO said above, have said: " Don't let it get to you, these attacks are against me and my govt, no-one is impugning you – the troops on the ground." He may be doing what politician's do, but does that make it any less contemptible really? I'd venture a guess that Hillier would not have framed the issue so. Harper hasn't the slightest idea what real leadership in a democracy, [where differences of opinion are inevitable, and even to be welcomed] means – even when the stakes are so high.

    • I don't see how any of this impugns the troops in the first place; they follow orders from above. The generals and Red Cross all have an agenda to deflect blame. Harper just like to score points whenever and wherever possible, and they don't have to be fairly won — remember, the Con instruction book says it's not necessary for what they say to be true, just plausible.

  17. What a scumbag.

    I would really resent being used like this if I was a Canadian soldier.

  18. Harper is a scorpion…it's just in his nature!