Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Canadian Soldiers Should Not be Dragged Into This Jane Taber. You Should be Ashamed.

“Slander is the revenge of a coward, and dissimulation his defense”

The above quote has been attributed to Samuel Johnson, but since many argue that it is not his, I will leave it as 'unknown'.

To me it doesn't matter who said it, but that it so aptly describes Stephen Harper's handling of the Afghan Detainee issue, as he has consistently used the coward's calling card in an attempt to conceal the truth.

Jane Taber has already revealed her dislike of Mr. Ignatieff, so she no doubt salivated over the opportunity to stick it to him again.

But this isn't about Michael Ignatieff, or the Liberal Party, or even the Conservatives' continuous poisonous assaults.

It is about our troops in the field, who are trying to do a job in a hell hole of a place, and don't have the luxury of proroguing, or slinging mud from behind a desk in a safe and comfortable office.

And it is about our men and women in uniform who often return home broken; physically and mentally. Tim Naumetz reported this week for the Hill Times:

More than 6,000 Canadian Forces members and discharged veterans who are receiving physical or psychiatric disability benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada have either served in Afghanistan or have a disability that has been related to their service in Afghanistan, the department says.

The majority of the soldiers receiving benefits are likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or war-related psychiatric conditions, according to global figures the department and the Canadian Forces provided The Hill Times.

They also do not appear to be included in Afghanistan combat or non-combat casualty figures the Canadian Forces compiled, even though the veterans and serving members who have psychiatric conditions likely have them as a result of serving in the Afghan war.

So you can imagine how they would feel reading a headline that includes the phrase "disdain for the Canadian forces.' This is inexcusable for a newspaper that has been part of the Canadian landscape for more than a century and a half, and possibly a new low in journalism.

Since Stephen Harper changed the channel on this issue, making it about the opposition parties accusing our soldiers of war crimes, in an attempt to deflect blame; it may have done irreparable damage to the good name of our country and our military.

He suggested to Peter Mainsbridge, in one of the rare interviews he grants our media, that the detainee issue was just something that the opposition parties have been flapping their gums about for the past four years, and that the Canadian people really don't care at all. Boy, was he wrong.

But to set the record straight, it was not the opposition who raised the alarm on this issue, but our own military police, the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Oxfam, NATO, The U.S. State Department, our diplomats ... the list goes on.

And it is not our troops who could possibly be charged with war crimes, but members of our own government. Because you see, there's a little clause in International law called 'Command Responsibility'. According to University of Ottawa law professor, Errol Mendes: "While the front line soldiers may have done the actual transfer, the culpability actually lies at the civilian command level: The ones who set the framework in place."

Stephen Harper knows this, which is why he is so desperately using dissimulation as a defense, for actions that are clearly indefensible.

In Taber's piece she refers to two quotes: "Canadians have been involved with ... " and : "Canadians have committed war crimes ... ". Not Canadian soldiers, as most of us know.

In fact, on at least one occasion, they took a prisoner back after witnessing abuse, and from there on in started taking photographs before handing them over. Because you see they know about the Geneva Convention, and they know about honour and dignity. Sometimes their very lives depend on it.

I read an online article recently from the Jamaica Gleaner, entitled Tsk, tsk, tsk Mr. Harper. The author John Rapley informs his readers of the abuse of power that has upset a nation, and the fact that it was found in the " Westminster [Parliamentary] systems ... only three times when prorogation was used to avoid political inquiries: all three were in Canada; two were by Harper."

But it was another statement he made that was more profound: "Over the Christmas holidays, faced with a parliamentary enquiry into abuses of Afghan prisoners by Canadian soldiers, Harper asked the Canadian governor general to prorogue parliament."

See this is what happens when you transfer blame. It sticks.

I immediately fired off an email correcting Rapley, by telling him that it was not the Canadian soldiers who abused the prisoners, but the people they transferred them to.

But it begs the question: Why am I having to defend the honour of our troops on the International stage? Shouldn't that be the job of the prime minister?


  1. Remember how Rick Hiller was used by Harper for photo ops , gooogle and read how sweater man Steve used him , from Rick's own words
    Looks like anouther 'dirty playbook trick " has been found out , tell others one on one , tweet and facebook
    Lets show the spin masters we know how to expose them 1

  2. Thanks. I can't believe that Canadian politics has stooped to this level or that the Globe have allowed themselves to get involved.

    This is a disgrace and I can't let them get away with it.

    We'll just keep getting the message out.

  3. Excellent blog, Emily & very important! I feel the same way - I cannot BELIEVE that the Cons care so little for the troops, or that they think average Canadians will fall for this crap! (But then again...) I would like to see this piece in every newspaper in the country. I wonder if you sent it in as an editorial piece, if it would get published - at least in one or two papers?

  4. I edited it a bit and sent it as a letter to the editor - Globe and Mail. I was so angry and sad and frustrated.

    They have definitely sunk to an all time low.