The politics of disaster (IV) - Macleans.ca
 

The politics of disaster (IV)


 

An excerpt from the Prime Minister’s speech to Canadian troops today in Haiti.

This fleet of new aircraft, the C-17 fleet, is a big part of making this response possible.  I single out the C-17 for a reason.  There was a time when that kind of heavy-lift aircraft didn’t fit Canada’s soft power policies, but our government bought them for the hard power requirements of today’s world.  Now we’re using them for relief work.  What is the moral of the story?  To do soft power, you need hard power.  You need a full range of capabilities.  These days, the Canadian Forces have the power they need to do the good our country desires you to do, and to do whatever our country asks you to do.

Full speech after the jump.

Merci, lieutenant-colonel Demers, pour cette présentation.  Général Laroche, ambassadeur Rivard, fellow Canadians, aid workers, members of the Canadian Forces, il me fait grand plaisir d’être parmi vous ici à Léogane.  Une des choses que l’on ignore lorsqu’on prend la décision de servir son pays, c’est ce que l’on va demander de vous.  C’est vrai lorsqu’on joint des Forces canadiennes, c’est vrai lorsqu’on décide de faire une carrière au sein de la Gendarmerie royale du Canada, au sein de l’Agence canadienne du développement internationale ou au sein de la diplomatie canadienne.  C’est vrai également lorsqu’on décide de faire partie d’une branche du gouvernement.  Cela dit, je pense que l’on a tous une chose en commun aujourd’hui.  Lorsque nous avons choisi de faire une carrière au service du public, au service de notre pays, aucun d’entre nous ne s’attendait à voir une scène aussi catastrophe.

I know a lot of you here have been to Afghanistan.  Some of you have been to the Balkans.  Some of you have been to places where for most people, mere survival is the highest human aspiration.  You have seen a thousand faces of human misery, but nothing could prepare you for what is all around you here.  In just a few minutes, an earthquake of overwhelming destructiveness threw down a vast number of buildings as we’ve seen in our tour here in Léogane, through down virtually every standing structure, caused unimaginable distress, injury and death.

Ce désastre naturel a été soudain.  Il a causé des dommages épouvantables.  Les Haïtiens étaient pourtant déjà assez éprouvés.  Ils vivent dans le pays le plus pauvre de l’hémisphère occidental, et maintenant ils ont perdu le peu qu’il leur restait.  Et on pense que le bilan va maintenant dépasser les 200 000 morts.  Partout dans le monde, les gens pleuraient en constatant l’ampleur du désastre, mais comme vous le savez, il faut plus que des pleurs pour soigner des plaies ouvertes.  Pour aider des gens qui souffrent, il faut de l’équipement, il faut du savoir-faire, il faut des moyens, mais avant tout, il faut des hommes et des femmes dévouées, et il faut être capable à les déployer rapidement là où les besoins sont urgents.  Eh bien, nous vous avons déployé ici, et très rapidement en plus, quelques heures seulement après le séisme, et vous faites un excellent travail, un travail extraordinaire dans des conditions difficiles, des conditions extrêmes.  Et personne n’est surpris, car la majorité d’entre vous fait partie du fameux Royal 22e.  Et car vous êtes tous et toutes les Canadiens et les Canadiennes.

The fact is that we, Canada, had people on the ground within hours of the earthquake.  A couple of days later, there were more than 150 Canadians on the ground.  The Disaster Assistance Response Team, the DART, treating the injured, offering comfort to the distressed, tending to people freshly rescued from the tombs that so many of their homes had become, and we’ve seen on our tour today all facets of that operation.

Comme le lieutenant-colonel a dit, par des…fait possible par des…nos marins, nos aviateurs et nos soldats.

Since then that first brave and resourceful contingent of military and development personnel has been joined by hundreds more, so that now more than 2000 Canadians are on the ground and off the coast, and exceeding all reasonable expectations in the struggle to ease the anguish of the survivors.  And doing it in conditions of great personal hardship.  When the call came, Canada was among the first to respond, fast and in force.

La planète entière a pu constater que le Canada est maintenant un acteur majeur lorsque vient le temps d’intervenir dans des catastrophes naturelles.  Tout le monde a vu que le Canada a l’équipement, le savoir-faire, la connaissance et le personnel pour intervenir rapidement et efficacement, et le Canada a maintenant – je dois le mentionner – un atout considérable, une flotte de C-17.  Grâce à cet avion polyvalent, le Canada n’a plus à faire du pouce pour être déployé à l’étranger.  Le Canada n’a plus à dépendre de la bonne volonté des autres avant de pouvoir agir.  À une certaine époque, ces avions C-17 ne correspondaient pas aux politiques de puissance douce, la politique de puissance douce au Canada.  Mais notre gouvernement les a achetés pour répondre aux besoins de la dure réalité du monde entier, y compris la dure réalité ici en Haïti.  Et notre intervention humanitaire ici en Haïti le démontre bien.

This fleet of new aircraft, the C-17 fleet, is a big part of making this response possible.  I single out the C-17 for a reason.  There was a time when that kind of heavy-lift aircraft didn’t fit Canada’s soft power policies, but our government bought them for the hard power requirements of today’s world.  Now we’re using them for relief work.  What is the moral of the story?  To do soft power, you need hard power.  You need a full range of capabilities.  These days, the Canadian Forces have the power they need to do the good our country desires you to do, and to do whatever our country asks you to do.

L’autre chose que le monde a pu constater, c’est l’énorme générosité des Canadiens et des Canadiennes qui sont profondément touchés par la souffrance qui afflige nos frères et nos sœurs en Haïti.  En tout, la population canadienne a donné plus de 150 millions $, une somme incroyable, une somme qui sera égalée par notre gouvernement.

It should also be remembered that Canadians have been extremely generous.  Our population has donated a sum, a staggering sum of over $150 million to rebuild and relieve Haiti.  As you know, our government will provide matching contributions.  That’s because Canada is prepared to do its share, because it is the Canadian way.  But ladies in gentlemen, in the end, it is your service to our country, fearless in war and passionate in disaster, that says so much about Canada.  That service to others speaks volumes about you and does great honour to all of us as your fellow citizens.

Mesdames et messieurs, personne ne sait quel sera le prochain défi que vous allez devoir relever.  Ce qu’on en sait, c’est que vous allez toujours être prêts à servir notre pays avec courage, dévouement et détermination comme vous le faites ici, comme vous le faites en Afghanistan et comme vous le faites ailleurs dans le monde.  Au nom du gouvernement du Canada et au nom de tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes, je tiens à vous remercier pour les services que vous rendez à notre pays.

Thank you for your service to our country. Merci beaucoup.  God bless you in your efforts, and a safe return home.  Merci.


 

The politics of disaster (IV)

  1. Even when doing good, he just can't be good.
    Stay classy Harper.

    • Yeah, it was so NOT CLASSY of Harper to tout the C-17 fleet for its stellar performance in delivering aid to Haiti.

      Seriously, I always love it when Wherry highlights a completely innocuous passage from a completely innocuous speech just so all the knee-jerk Harper-haters can pretend that he said something wrong.

      • i actually read it and thought that the innocuous nature is precisely why I am glad Wherry covers things like this speech. I think that Harper and his court look for opportunities like this one, where they can play to the themes that resonate with their base — the red meat for the base, if you will — knowing it is unlikely that it will attract much attention.

        the quote becomes great fodder for pamphlets, 10%ers, Tory blogs or whatever about how Harper is remaking the country to suit the base, in this case as a more militaristic nation, without ever having to stand up in front of the county to make the case for his policy choices or to discuss the implications of the choices or to face the scrutiny doing so would garner.

        so kudos to Wherry!

        • Just so we're clear, what exactly is your problem with the paragraph that Wherry highlighted? You agree that it's innocuous, but you're worried that the paragraph might become "great fodder for pamphlets"?

          • I think Sea & Mountains means that the Tories will be able to excerpt from this speech, mentioning the place and occasion, and use it as proof that the CPC has committed resources to strengthening the military. So a speech like this serves to please the Van Doos to some degree (not that they really need it, I bet), but it also serves as an extended photo op; one doesn't exclude the other.

          • Is it reasonable to criticize a positive speech from the PM to our troops solely on the basis that an excerpt from the speech could hypothetically be used for promotional purposes at some point in the future?

          • What is your theory as to why the PM is in Haiti? He's not the head of state or president or commander in chief, he's just a politician; he's not a celebrity. I don't get what he's doing there. You might as well send Jean Charest.

          • You can't think of any legitimate reason for Harper to visit Haiti? Just naked political posturing?

          • As I commented below, neither he nor any PM has a constitutional role vis-a-visy do regarding the military is just naked political posturing. They use the troops as backdrops while they pretend to be the US President — who's the commander in chief and head of state, quite unlike our prime ministers. This goes for Chretien, Martin, Harper, Kenney, Rae, Davies, and whoever else you care to name. The PM is not the GG.

          • The GG might be the ceremonial commander in chief, but GGs don't declare war. PMs do. The head of Canada's government is also the de facto head of Canada's armed forces.

          • I believe, in the USA, their commander-in-chief doesn't declare war. Congress does. And I believe Congresscritters visit their troops all the time. And they should.

          • Interesting digression about how Mackenzie King requested King George VI to declare Canada at war with Germany:

            For Canada and Canadians, the Second World War began in Parliament, which was called into special session on September 7. After a brief debate, and at the request of the national Parliament and government, King George VI declared war on Germany, in the name of Canada, on September 10, 1939. Unlike 1914, Canada had made its own separate declaration of war, exactly a week after Britain went to war.

          • Yeah, exactly: "at the request of the national Parliament and government." When King made his famous speech about war, he made it to Parliament, not standing in front of the Governor General's Foot Guards.

            The head of Canada's government is also the de facto head of Canada's armed forces

            That's putting a serious strain on "de facto." Sure, as chairman of the Cabinet he participates in the policy decisions that the Minister of Defense will communicate to the CDS, but that's it.

            Of course, our increasingly monarchical PM's covet the prestige (and with it the power) of American presidents, but we are not going to give it to them. Whence all the attacks on Harper's photo-opping here. Unlike the Americans with their eternal deference to the Presidency, we are a free people and the Prime Minister, as far as I'm concerned, is just a politician like the rest. God save the Queen!

          • That's putting a serious strain on "de facto." Sure, as chairman of the Cabinet he participates in the policy decisions that the Minister of Defense will communicate to the CDS, but that's it.

            Is this how you would characterize Prime Minister Winston Churchill's relationship with the British military during WW2?

          • I would characterise it as "Britain fighting for its existence, led by a three-member War Cabinet."

            You're quite right: that's exactly the image one gets when one sees a prime minister giving a speech to, or in front of, the troops: Winston Churchill with near-dictatorial powers. That is just why I object to it, the Wehrmacht not being on our doorstep.

          • thanks for clarifying my obtuse thoughts Jack. it is precisely what i meant!

            and CR as to whether or not it is "reasonable to criticize a positive speech from the PM to our troops solely on the basis that an excerpt from the speech could hypothetically be used for promotional purposes at some point in the future?": of course it is. I would even argue it is essential.

            to the degree that PM has chosen to proceed with his own version of "policy by stealth" — and Wells et al have done us all a great service the last few months in illuminating a potent example of this with regards to Rights and Democracy — it may be our only hope for an examination of what Harper is actually up to, including to see when his actions fall short of his rhetoric as it does with equipment purchases as discussed elsewhere in the comments on this article.

          • and CR as to whether or not it is "reasonable to criticize a positive speech from the PM to our troops solely on the basis that an excerpt from the speech could hypothetically be used for promotional purposes at some point in the future?": of course it is. I would even argue it is essential.

            Anything Harper says could theoretically used as promotion. So you're saying any speech of Harper's should be criticized, regardless of content? And such criticism is essential? Does this not seem slightly absurd to you?

          • sorry, should have said it is essential to scrutinize and criticize as appropriate. trying to do too many things at once tonight!

      • Well, I wouldn't call it an un-classy moment, like say at the G8 attacking Ignatieff on the world stage and then having to apologize. And fully within his rights to brag about what he has done. The dig at the Liberals was pretty soft compared to most attempts so it doesn't bother me too much on its own.

        It's just that even at such moments as that he just can't let the moment pass. Perhaps if he had ever tried to be a greater statesman, we'd have more space for the occasional digs, even at inappropriate times like this. But not only can he not help himself, but it was only a few weeks ago that he cancelled the promised armoured vehicles which is also has got to be very much a part of "hard power".

        So it's a soft dig at an inappropriate time coupled with an exaggerated claim of accomplishment and support for the troops, all while using the troops, again, as props for a photo opportunity. Not an outrage, but it is what it is and it is definitely very Harper.

        • The dig at the Liberals was pretty soft compared to most attempts so it doesn't bother me too much on its own.

          You consider the quote to be a "soft dig" at the Liberals? Isn't that stretching things a bit? Harper was simply making the obvious point that Canada's military used to be underequipped for the jobs we were asking them to do. Every single one of the Canadian troops in the audience probably agreed with this fairly uncontroversial point. Harper didn't even mention the Liberals, yet judging from some of the comments below that hasn't stopped them from whining about it.

          but it was only a few weeks ago that he cancelled the promised armoured vehicles

          I don't know anything about this issue. Why were they cancelled?

          So it's a soft dig at an inappropriate time coupled with an exaggerated claim of accomplishment and support for the troops, all while using the troops, again, as props for a photo opportunity.

          It's part of Harper's job to speak to the armed forces, but every time he does it a predictable chorus of blog commenters sing: "it's a shameful photo op!". It's one of those timeless clichés that apparently never gets old.

          • Please, CR. You don't think there is a context to "There was a time when that kind of heavy-lift aircraft didn't fit Canada's soft power policies, but our government bought them for the hard power requirements of today's world"? or in "What is the moral of the story? To do soft power, you need hard power. You need a full range of capabilities.? or " These days, the Canadian Forces have the power they need"?

            Why were the armoured vehicles cancelled? I don't know. They are not saying and they only announced it on Take Out the Garbage Day. I only even learned about it from a Rick Mercer rant!

            The shameful photo op is the focus of the same Rick Mercer rant where Harper made a big splash announcing the armoured vehicles surrounded by soldiers, making a promise and commitment to them.

          • I'm sorry if you are bored of the meme of Harper using our troops as a photo op, but he does so blatantly it is sickening. Think of the fly by/float by up in the north when he forced them to fly by twice because he wasn't in a perfect position or forcing them to salute him as though he was the head of state at Canada Day. And then using our troops as a prop to fend of any and all criticism or even commentary that falls short of boosterism on the government's handling of the war (not even just detainees).

          • I'm extremely bored with this cliché (I won't dignify it by calling it a meme). It doesn't mean anything, it's just mindless political noise. Literally everything Harper does that involves the military in any way is derided as a "photo-op".

            That also applies to Haiti. Harper did a tremendous job with Haiti, but we see a bunch of blog commenters wailing and gnashing their teeth at Harper's "disgusting photo ops" and his "cynical exploitation of dead Haitans for political gain".

          • Literally everything Harper does that involves the military in any way is derided as a "photo-op".

            Because he has no constitutional role involving the military. Literally everything he or any other PM has done, does, or will do that involves the military will be a photo-op, nothing more or less.

          • The word photo-op has a decidedly negative connotation.

            If I follow your argument, you're saying that because Prime Ministers aren't constitutionally commanders in chief, whenever Canada's head of government talks to Canada's military it should be derided as a photo-op?

          • When they choose to do so publicly on their own initiative, absolutely, that's a photo-op and the prime ministers can bathe in the negative connotations. The only positive aspect seems to me to be that the media follows the PM around like a pack of corgis, so it's one time when we actually get to see the Navy, or the Van Doos, or whoever it is on the front pages and on the TV news. But that speaks more to the disgraceful lack of interest in and access to they normally have to the CF.

          • Can you source those quotations for us? I've not seen anything like that. In fact, I saw a heck of a lot of praise from all corners, even a bit over at rabble and NDP bloggers about the Haitians efforts. Which is why his use of that for political gain feels so very very crass, if nothing else.

            And they are photo ops to be criticized when he forced our soldiers away from their duties just to make him look good. That is not in their job description. Nor is being used as a prop to deflect criticism of his government the way he claims any comment that is not favourable undermines our troops and is unpatriotic.

            And I certainly don't feel sorry about criticizing him for his use and abuse of troops when he was a vicious critic of Chretien showing up at Canadian disasters like the Manitoba floods. At least Chretien was not afraid to talk to Canadians and take questions.

          • There's one further down. "So hundreds of thousands perish in Haiti. And on their graveyards, Harper raises his flag and gives a stump speech. Either this man has no shame, or he's just callously indifferent."

            Of course, this is a relatively mild example. If you really want to see some gut-churning vitriol, check out the comments section of any Globe & Mail article about Harper in Haiti. (Not that I would ever recommend reading G&M comments, which mostly consist of nutty, uninformed trolls on the right and the left flinging poo at each other).

          • Right. Saw that. Over the top for sure. Like I said, it was a pretty mild jab, especially for Harper. Not really a stump speech. Not really callously indifferent. Not really an outrage. Just inappropriate and typical.

            I don't judge conservatives, liberals or dippers for the anonymous comments left on blogs and newspaper comments sections. Anonymity can bring out the worst in people. It's one reason I started using my own name, as a check on my own potential for stupid vitriol under cover of anonymity.

          • I don't judge political parties based on internet commenters either, whether or not they're anonymous. To do so would be absurd.

          • Looks like all of us here are not the only ones who saw Harper's comments as a swipe at "policies of previous Liberal governments" while delivering a speech about needed aid for Haitians.

            Like I said, if he didn't already have a history of taking every single opportunity to make an attack on Liberals, no matter how inappropriate, a soft rib jab like that goes unnoticed. But in context, we all know what he's trying to do and that he just can't help himself.

          • Looks like all of us here are not the only ones who saw Harper's comments as a swipe at "policies of previous Liberal governments" while delivering a speech about needed aid for Haitians.

            Like I said, if he didn't already have a history of taking every single opportunity to make an attack on Liberals, no matter how inappropriate, a soft rib jab like that goes unnoticed. But in context, we all know what he's trying to do and that he just can't help himself.

          • Last week, the Globe described Harper decision to cancel spring break as a "trap", this week, they call a mild and factual comment a "swipe". They really need to clean up their sloppy political reporting.

          • The "trap" thing I agree with you but the theme was taken from her background interviews with anonymous Conservatives so she only gets half the blame. And to be clear, her blame is for not outright mocking the effort.

            Do you really, honestly think Harper's comment was not a swipe? Really?

          • Really. To call that a "swipe" is sheer hyperbole.

          • Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

            Seriously, I don't know how you can say that multiple negative comparisons between now and a vague "before now", before "our government", could be anything but an intended and pointed compare and contrast between this government and the prior government, between the "hard power" policies of this government and the "soft power" policies of the prior government.

            It's not as if no one knows what party was in government before Harper.

          • So any time a politician vaguely suggests that "now" is better than "before now", suggesting that the current government's policies are a positive improvement, it's fair to call it a "swipe"? Wow.

          • Puhlease and spare me your own hyperbole of "any time". I am clearly referring to the specific way Harper compared and contrasted which is why I quoted it way up above and which was clearly, very clearly meant as a swipe at the Liberals.

            "I single out the C-17 for a reason." – He has singled out the C-17 many many times before too and every time he makes a pointed comment about the Liberals. There is a context here.

            "There was a time" when giving you "the power [you] need to do the good our country desires you to do" "didn't fit" "soft power policies". Hmmm. who could he be talking about? I wonder what he think of the "soft power" policy? Is it just a dated policy that merely doesn't meet the "requirements of today"? No, in fact, the "moral of the story" is that "to do soft power you need hard power", i.e. even on their own terms, the Liberals were failing because they didn't provide what was needed. [cont]

  2. Harper never misses a chance to campaign, even when it's a major stretch.

  3. The problem comes when hard words meets soft policies, when hard promises meet soft follow-through.

    [youtube kCadyzQ4w1k http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCadyzQ4w1k youtube]

    Transcribed: "Perfect timing this past week when every headline was dominated by the humanitarian crisis in Haiti that the government let it be known – very quietly – that the purchase of armoured vehicles is now on "permanent hold". Or what a civilian would call "cancelled". Turns out, it [the announcement of the purchase of armoured vehicles with dozens of soldiers] was just a photo op. Perhaps, a new low in Canadian politics."

    • Perhaps, a new low for Rick Mercer.

  4. So hundreds of thousands perish in Haiti. And on their graveyards, Harper raises his flag and gives a stump speech. Either this man has no shame, or he's just callously indifferent.

    • I find reactions like this to be incredibly amusing. It's always some version of: "Waah! Harper's doing the right thing, but I hate him, so he must be doing the right thing for the wrong reasons! That callous bastard!"

      • I find reactions like yours to be incredibly disingenuous. It's always some version of: "Wahh! People are paying attention to the context of what Harper does and not just blindly swallowing what he puts out. They must be Harper haters.. the bastards!"

        If Harper wanted to congratulate the troops for their fast action, then by all means that's what he should have done — and that's ALL that he should have done. Instead, he uses the opportunity for what could be a good thing and turns it into just another campaign opportunity. That's the problem. Everything Harper does is part of the campaign. Governance, when it happens, only happens because it has a campaign benefit.

        Or is it too much to ask for our politicians to do the right thing and have some class while they're doing it as well?

  5. His argument, if we take it at face value, is conflicted. Leaving aside the murky distinctions between “soft” and “hard” power, all he’s saying is that C-17s meet the requirements of a soft power policy and we could have acquired some earlier to meet soft power purposes. The usefulness of C-17s for delivering aid to Haiti says nothing at all about hard power policies, much as he may wish it so.

  6. Oh oh! The Conservatives are creeping back up in the polls to 34% now that the main stream media has stopped its dishonest and biased Harper's-prorogation-is-the-end-of-democracy routine.

    The main stream media: where what is routine matter when done by the Liberals is destructive of democracy when done by the Conservatives.

    And the media is surprised that their credibility is questioned?

    • Oh is it back to its dishonest and biased Harper's-a-chessmaster-and-the-Canada-is-his-oyster-he-will-likely-rule-for-a-decade routine yet?

    • The Conservative kool-aid drinkers: where what is a flip flop, a broken promise, a blatant abandonment of core principles, an anti-democratic pattern of behaviour is a-ok when done by the Conservatives if there is some sorta kinda somewhat similar thing that the Liberals did (even if they were once highly critical of the Liberals for doing that very thing and promised to be better and different).

      And Conservatives are surprised that their credibility is questioned?

  7. The C17s means we no longer need to rent the Antonov death traps and wait while others claim their time while we are trying to repond to either military or humanitarian needs….almost like a sovereign nation ya know. The need for major capital spending on the military is a direct result of 13 years of Liberal cut-backs…their "soldiers, on the streets, with guns" ads in the 05-06 campaign pretty much told me all I needed to now about Liberal attitudes on the military. I seem to recall it was Chretien who commited our forces in Afstan in Tin foil Iltis jeeps and no armour

    Perhaps the cratering of the global economy has something to do with "permanent hold" on a 5 billion purchase for a mission whose mandate expires next summer? Gee I wonder who is pushing that date?

    BTW are you guys all just hanging at D'Arcy McGee's suckin back beers and doing the circle jerk?

  8. "You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake." ~ Jeannette Rankin

    Glad to see such instruments used to preserve life rather than cause death.

    • Tell that to the the Third Reich, I'm guessing our world today, notwithstanding its many problems, beats the hell out of Hitler et als plans.

      • Without a doubt. Patriotism and fascism make dangerous bedfellows, as does any system of governance that focuses on waging war and manages to stoke enough the flames of patriotism to carry it through.

  9. I thought the C-17 purchase was great.

    Doesn't change my view that half of cabinet should be in jail.

  10. The irony of Harper's pep talk to the troops is that he and his executive refuse to take responsibility for decisions (or lack thereof) the government made about Afghanistan detainees. Nay, not irony. Hypocrisy.

  11. And to the point of being a photo op:

    "The Prime Minister concluded a two-day visit to Haiti yesterday that was largely a series of photo opportunities. Only photographers and two reporters in an entourage of 10 were permitted on the tour through Léogâne.

    Nor did Mr. Harper entertain any questions from the media Tuesday."

  12. [cont]

    Ah, but now "our government" (NB: not "your government", as though it belonged to anyone but the Conservatives"; imagine the outrage and "arrogance" comments if Martin or Ignatieff had said that), shining white knight that they are, has given you the "full range of capabilities" that you need so that "these days", the "Canadian Forces have the power they need to do the good our country desires you to do, and to do whatever our country asks you to do" unlike before, the no party before.

    Funny he doesn't mention the advice given to prior governments that renting was cheaper and freed up cash for more pressing needs like armoured vehicles they desperately need and that actually save lives, the lives our troops. Why does Harper hate the troops so much?

    Not a swipe? Puhlease.

    • Thanks for clarifying your position. So if we look at the plain words that Harper actually used, it doesn't seem like much of a swipe. But if we dissect and parse the PM's words with the semiotic rigour of a literary critic, we can reveal hidden inferences that are encoded in the text like cleverly concealed Easter eggs.

      With respect, your analysis brings "reading between the lines" to a whole new level. My favourite revelation was that the Prime Minister said "our" government instead of "your" government. So revealing!

      In other words, it's not about what the PM actually said, it's about what you imagine that he meant to say. It must be one of those postmodern "swipes".

      • On the contrary. No reading between any lines.

        I think the plain meaning of the words is clearly a swipe at the former government. I have no idea how someone could interpret a compare and contrast as anything but. The only thing he did not do is name the Liberals or spit on the ground, so maybe he's mellowing in his old age.

        Who do you think he was saying didn't provide for their needs, who didn't provide them the power they need? the full range of capabilities? What "time" was he referring to????

        Come on, CR, tell me you're bored from watching the men's team blow out Norway and are just pulling my chain on this.

        • I would love to show that paragraph to 100 neutral observers (e.g. citizens of another country who don't know anything about Canadian politics) just to see how many of them read it as a swipe against the former government. My guess is zero.

        • "I think the plain meaning of the words is clearly a swipe at the former government."

          You're right, Ted. It can actually be interpreted as a swipe at previous governments, including both the Mulroney and Diefenbaker PCs. Harper is highlighting a clear change in foreign policy that has happened under his government which allow us to react quickly to disasters. What exactly is your problem with that other than the fact it may be politically popular and beneficial to the electoral fortunes Conservative Party of Canada?

  13. Set it up and I'd put good money that they would see it as a swipe.

    More importantly though, would a non-political junkie Canadian knowing Canadian politics read it as a swipe? You can't read this in isolation from his audience which is rarely the people directly in front of him with Harper.

  14. Harper is unbelievable. He stoops so low as to use a tradegy like this for his own personal political gain. Stumping in Haiti. When are the Tories going to dump this haircut for a man of quality. He is an embarrasment to Canada. Even his wife can't look at him,

  15. Glen Pearson makes a typically thoughtful contribution to this debate on his blog:

    http://glenpearson.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/polit

    "Why did the Prime Minister suddenly get in his political punches at his opposition during what has been a quiet consent of support from those parties during a pivotal time? I couldn't begin to guess, but I will venture that it was wrong and defied history…"

  16. 1) Seems to me that Harper was merely stating the obvious. Had the the C-17 not been purchased, we would have been late getting any aid to Haiti, much like our response to the the tsunami was some 28 days overdue.

    2) Partisan screeching aside, given that a huge portion of our foreign aid is directed at Haiti, and even more so over the next 10 yrs, it is entirely appropriate for Harper to visit Haiti to meet with officials there, and to highlight the efforts of our DART and military. Note that Nicolas Sarkozy was due to arrive yesterday as well (mere photo-op too?)

    3) Trying to reading campaign motives into the Conservative governments response to the earthquake doesn't change the fact that it was rapid and effective, and provided evidence of a preparedness not displayed in the aftermath of previous natural disasters.

  17. One really does wonder why Harper seems to have a need to brag whenever he is outside of Canada.