Wednesday, May 14, 2008

First Libel Chill then Logic Chill

I've been noticing a rather odd tactic being employed by the Conservatives in recent weeks, but yesterday in committee with Romeo Dallaire, it took on a new meaning.

The tactic I'm referring to is this. The Con's take a comment by the opposition, turn it into something else entirely, then becoming outraged by their own invention.

Not following?

Well let's start with the committee meeting yesterday. Romeo Dallaire and Professor David Crane, (an expert on child soldiers) were before the committee to make the case as to why Omar Khadr should be brought back to Canada and tried here.

Watching the meeting, I thought, Finally. A committee meeting of substance that won't degenerate into a kindergarten. Silly me.

Both men spoke with conviction, extensive knowledge and passion. They explained that by allowing Khadr to be tried by the illegal system that Bush and company contrived, we are contravening Human Rights conventions to which we have committed. Dallaire also made the point that by doing so, we are reducing our standards and our values to a level that was not unlike those we are fighting.

“The minute you start playing with human rights, with conventions, with civil liberties, in order to say that you're doing it to protect yourself and you are going against those rights and conventions, you are no better than the guy who doesn't believe in them at all,” he said.

Jason Kenney, the appointed Con pit bull at this committee, ignored everything the two men had said, ignored the reason for the meeting and decided instead to attack Dallaire. Predictably, Kenney pushed Dallaire on his comparison in an effort to discredit all that he had said thus far.

Disgust does not begin to describe what I felt at that moment. By listing sensational examples of terrorism, (including propaganda which has since been disproved), Kenney changed the channel on the real issue and handed the Con's yet another manufactured issue to be indignant about.

Need other examples of that tactic? Since the beginning of May, Jim Flaherty has refused to answer John McCallum in the House. Why? Because when McCallum cited questionable practices by the Minister, (un-tendered contracts, money for trains that go through his riding, money for an association that his wife is affiliated with), Flaherty called the statement defamatory and will not answer McCallum until he apologises. He's indignant about comments that McCallum didn't make you see. Baird now answers his questions and completely distorts the truth.

Flaherty employed this faux outrage again yesterday, at committee.

Another example would be the Bernier affair. No one cares who Bernier sleeps with, but many care, including experts, whether or not proper security measures were taken. Not according to the Con's though. No, the opposition is simply interested in prying into the private lives of MP's and they are outraged and idignant about what the Lib's are not saying.

Yesterday however, was the most egregious example of this manufactured indignation. The concerted attempt to discredit Dallaire really is something to be outraged over. You can disagree with his words, but not with the facts and the conclusion he draws.

There has been much talk about libel chill on the Hill. I think there is merit to that, but I'm much more concerned about the suspension of reason and rational discourse or, logic chill.

Update - As expected, the Con's continued their smearing of Dallaire in the House today. Poilievre used his Members Statement time to go over the top and Kenney was asked by a back bencher exactly what Dallaire said. Kenney of course delighted in providing his version of what happened and also went over the top. Of course he demanded an apology from Dallaire and Dion. Disgusting.

Update 2 - Well what do you know? It seems that Dion is backing Dallaire in more certain terms than was previously reported.

Liberal Leader Stephan Dion backed Dallaire today, reiterating his call that the government intervene in Khadr's case.
"I think that Mr. Jason Kenney, as usual, provoked a colleague of mine who has not a lot of experience in the heat of the parliamentary debate, but on the substance of the issue, General Dallaire is right. Mr. Khadr should be back in Canada. All the other countries have done that," Dion told reporters in Ottawa.

Well done Dion.


WesternGrit said...

Shame on these people playing politics with the reputation of one of our greatest generals. One of our men and women in uniform. Whatever happened to "support our troops"? Maybe Conservatives only believe it when they have something to gain from it politically...

Northern PoV said...

Just like the chicken-hawks in the USA (Vietnam-evaders like Bush, Cheney etc) pip-squeaks like Kenney attack true soldier-heroes like Dallaire.
Kenney was truly disgusting and Dallaire handled him with great forbearance and aplomb while sticking to his point.
That ANYONE (including the brain-dead-Harperites) can take Kenney seriously speaks to just how low we have been brought down to in this country.

And the "chill" you speak of will certainly discourage good people (like Dallaire) from speaking out for fear of their words being twisted.

Karen said...

Westerngrit, everything is political with these guys.

They are incapable of dealing with the real issue, because that would upset their base of course.

I noticed today in QP they got back on the "terrorist" narrative when referring to Khadr.

By their comments you can only assume that they are completely incapable of understanding the complexity of this case and would rather take the, you're either with them or you're with us stance.

Sadly they don't realise that by condoning what the US is doing, they are with them.

Karen said...

northern pov, you're right. It's unbelievable that anyone would take Kenney or many others in this government seriously on any matter of weight.

As to the chill, I hope you are wrong.

I doubt Dallaire will be silent and my hope is that others are more emboldened to call these 'pretend' Ministers out.

Anonymous said...

The Connies engage in smear because they cannot debate honestly.
I share your feeling of disgust but not only at the Conservatives but at Dion also.

Are people so blinded by ideology that the truth now eludes them?

Anonymous said...

Kenney of course delighted in providing his version of what happened and also went over the top. Of course he demanded an apology from Dallaire and Dion. Disgusting.

How can one provide his version when it's been recorded?

I'm not for violence but I can't wait for some Connie to come to my door so that I can show him that a kick to the nuts is not physical contact....

Karen said...

cherniak_wtf, I'm not sure I'm following you here.

Are you suggesting that Dion's ideology is preventing him from arguing fact?

From what I've heard him say on this subject I would dispute that.

You're right of course that he did not endorse the comments made by Dallaire, that really weren't made by Dallaire but provided by Kenney, but as I said on a previous comments section, I don't think he had a choice.

Should this discourse be different? Of course! However, unless the Con's are ousted I cannot see that happening.

The Con's will continue to reduce the argument to a debate between 5 year old children, more damage will be done to the country and we will be in a place that will take decades to recover from.

If that's ideology, so be it.

The truth has not eluded Dion imo, and it is my hope that he keeps up the fight, in public, with Dallaire at his side.

Dallaire spoke truth and I've raised this matter before. Finally the Lib's have a leader who agrees with him but will not fall into the shoddy trap that the Con's are laying.

Strategy? Yes, and at this point in time I think that's most important.

Karen said...

Anon How can one provide his version when it's been recorded?

They do it all the time my friend...all the time.

My vote is no violence, but your analogy is funny.

Anonymous said...

Knb, I think that we agree that the present political climate prevents Dion from wholeheartedly endorsing Dallaire’s comments.
Part of the problem is that the Harporites are dictating the rhetoric and the Canadian public too easily influenced by scare words such as “terrorists” and false equivalences made to appeal to emotions over intellect.
Dion has been reacting instead of setting the tone. The Harporites have been imitating the Bush regime with relatively the same success. From the dismantling of institutions to a myriad of other small but incremental steps that ultimately impoverish Canada, no one has stood up and said enough is enough.
While I don’t always agree with Dallaire, the fact that he steadfastly stuck by his points in the face of a childish cretin speaks volumes to the integrity and intellectual rigor of Romeo’s points.
The US, by most measure is a rogue state at the moment. I’m surprised to the point of shock that Canadians are so easily led down that same path. Sure you have to win elections, but at what price? The Conservatives have reduced political discourse to childish antics based on emotion instead of honesty. Dallaire spoke the truth and has been labeled by many a traitor today. Dion, in his comments, negated some of the impact of Dallaire’s speech. I’m certain that the good Senator will have to water down his remarks.

When looking back at the US, the fact that many did not speak up for the truth aided the start of the war (resulting in the decline of the economy), the assault on civil liberties and the installing of a nation of fear.

While Kenney is disturbed by the remarks of the Senator, I’m disturbed by the lies and outright fabrications by Kenney. The US is acting illegally and the results of their incursion predicted years ago – the Conservatives are leading us down a similar path and only by standing up to the lies and not letting their idiotic ideology take hold of the Canadian “mentality” will we be able to return to a better society.

Conservatives will do their best to smear Dallaire’s reputation, but his comments were the truth and should be repeated.

Karen said...

cherniak_wtf, I think we agree on many things, including the political climate.

Beyond that and the reason I mentioned swiftboating in past remarks has to do with how the media plays against Dion, no matter what he says.

It's not constrained to what the opposition idiots say, it's larger than that.

If I thought for one moment that Dion would be picked up as a hero or champion rather, I'd endorse your push. Dallaire is a hero/champion for god's sake and how was he reported today?. How in hell could Dion expect to be supported that way by Canadians when an opposite story is being told?

I agree with you that the US and Kerry in this example should have spoken up sooner.

I would also concede that Dion should have as well, but both scenario's are complex.

You're right, we should have learned and many of us have, but if media in this country hasn't, how do you push your point?

Off topic, but take Hebert's comment today...framing the untrue.

If the Liberals want to take the sting out of the concept of a carbon tax, is campaigning on the slogan "your wallet for the planet" really the way to go in the next election?

That's not what the man said and certainly not what he meant. He had just explained how his plan would be "good for the planet and good for your wallet".

As long as we have people like Chantal writing what earns her pats on the back by her bosses while distorting the truth, it's pretty tough to get out there and expect that your truth will be told with honesty.

It's a sad state of affairs isn't it?

I never thought that I wouldn't be able to recognise Canada in my lifetime.

Karen said...

Well....ask and it will happen, as they say.

Here's an update. Not perfect, but at least a stab at objective reporting.

Anonymous said...

Well, what can I say except that I was wrong about Dion.

Karen said...

I take that as good news my friend.

burlivespipe said...

Have I missed something? After this dastardly attack, why is no Liberal firing back, starting with a comment that the gov't had its own report which stated that the US practiced torture?
After the gov't responds that it was in error, they parlay that to the quotes of their so-called leader and former leader, Harper and Day, as they attacked another Canadian in the house for terrorist connections? And then pull the rug out on them about their despicable partisan bludgeoning of people like Arar and Dallaire -- turning people's actions and words into their own football. It seems that these are blatant facts which should be used often, just like Harper's support on the invasion of Iraq. But why aren't we?