A few days ago Michael Byers wrote an article in the Toronto Star. While I do not agree with Byers on all issues, the thrust of the article is how much Canada has changed under Harper's rule and how the rest of the world is noticing. They are not noticing with admiration, they are surprised to be polite.
Before I get to Bernier, I'd like to make a comment about the overall theme of the article. What really struck me is the fact that other countries are paying attention and it's not the first time I've read that.
How many times have we heard that Canada is a bit player that no one pays attention to? How many times have you heard that Canadians have no identity, save for the fact that we are not American? While I think a case could be made for both statements, overall I do not believe that they are true.
We do have a reputation around the world and it's a good one, (or perhaps I should say was). We're no superpower of course, but that has never been our aim. We have made our mark and that has earned us respect. I don't know about you, but the only people I ever heard berating Canada and Canadians are the conservatives that follow Harper. I think most of us love Canada and are proud of what we stand (stood?) for.
Anyway, back to Bernier. I suppose some astute staffer saw it first, sent it to him and then he must have spoken with the PMO or Harper himself to get permission to write this letter to the editor.
It opens with the hilarious line:
This article by Michael Byers is so one-sided and lacking in objectivity that I feel compelled to respond.
It goes on to create that Alice in Wonderland/upside down world that the Con's are so famous for and ends with this fantastical sentence:
Under the previous Liberal government, Canada's global influence declined while it diverted energy away from the important work of diplomacy and toward soft-power fantasies.
In an effort to be objective, Bernier apparently thinks that what is required is some good old fashioned partisanship, coupled with ideology that in this case ends in fantasy.
The next day the Globe and Mail ran an editorial on Omar Khadr. Sorry, it's behind a wall, but essentially it spoke to how Canada is the only Western nation that has not spoken up for their citizen. It ends with reminding us that the Canadian Bar Association belatedly found its voice last August and called for Khadr's repatriation.
Again, those busy staffers were on top of it or perhaps Bernier read the editorial himself. Again getting the okay from Harper he wrote another letter, just as ridiculous.
The government has received assurances Mr. Khadr is being treated humanely
He goes on:
Any questions regarding whether Canada plans to ask for his release from Guantanamo are premature and speculative, as the legal and appeals processes are still ongoing.
No, they are far from premature. I won't get into the details but Bernier's assertions are absurd.
Is it common for the government to argue policy in letters to the editor? I'm certainly not familiar with it. I do see the occasional letter from opposition members as well as articles written by them, but this tells me just how defensive these Con's are. I'm sure I am one of a few who actually read, (I should say skim) these letters so no big damage done, but really, how shoddy.
I missed the publication of the manual on Media Response for Cabinet Ministers Whom I Allow to Speak, but it clearly exists.