Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Got Nothing...But He's Wrong

Christie Blatchford's piece in the Globe and Mail today made no bones about where she was going to come out on the Afghanistan issue. That doesn't, or shouldn't surprise anyone.

Blatchford makes no excuses for her devotion to the troops and her admiration for Gen. Rick Hillier. Certainly, she is entitled to her feelings and her perspective, but how that qualifies her to put out such a lengthy and faulty analysis, perplexes me. Well, no I guess it doesn't really. She's written an opinion piece, but it's presented with such a huge amount of ink, that one would be led to believe that she has the last and definitive word on the issue.

Look, credit where credit is due. Blatchford has courage that I don't possess. Her experience in Afghanistan is not one many of us would undertake and by all accounts, she presented her observations during that time honestly and from the perspective of the soldier. That was important work in my view.

Given that though, how she or anyone believes that she can objectively look at a diplomats duties and findings, is beyond me. Hillier, whom she adores, all but spat out the word diplomat this week at the committee meeting. The disdain the military feels for the civilian/political realm is neither new, nor surprising. In fact, I suppose it could be argued that a certain amount of animosity is necessary in order for each sector to do it's work.

I tend to think that Blatchford shares Gen. Hillier and Gen. Gautier's views on that score.

So, if as she says the Globe and Mail received the redacted documents, why did it fall to her to go through them? Just thinking out loud here, but it seems to me that someone who was far closer to the situation, as in Graeme Smith, who really broke much of this, would have been a better choice, no?

I raise that because I wonder if The Globe received the documents or if Christie herself did. Just putting that out there. I know that she would have to share/vet her information with her higher up's. Her analysis, at any rate is faulty.

Let's start with the last paragraph first, because it sets up how she approached the issue.

In condemning with the same brush highly professional Canadian soldiers, and to complain that they were complicit in breaches of the law of armed conflict and knowingly buried his reports, it is Mr. Colvin who has some explaining left to do.

No one, I repeat, NO ONE, has accused the Canadian soldiers. This is about their political masters. The 'attacking our brave sons and daughters' line is one that is being pushed by the government as a shiny object and Blatchford obligingly picked it up and ran with it.

Furthermore, the amount of redaction applied to these memos makes it impossible for her to refute their content, but she does. She goes on to portray Colvin's exposure as limited, but in doing so, she exposes her lack of understanding of his post.

You do recall that we tragically lost our first diplomat in Afghanistan Glyn Berry. In spite of that danger, Colvin stepped up and volunteered to take his place. She diminishes the man with her 'military point of view' impression of him.

A more thoughtful view can be found here.

And then we have this:

The Globe and Mail now has what appears to be the entire collection of the e-mails Mr. Colvin sent on the subject during the 17 months he spent in Afghanistan from April of 2006 to October of 2007. A couple are virtually completely blacked out; some are heavily redacted, others rattle on at such length they could have done with a little more redacting.

Do they have the entire collection? And apologies for being a nudge here, but why does the Globe have the doc's while parliamentarians are being left out of the loop?

In the end, the Globe facilitated getting the government argument out through another voice. There is nothing substantial in Blatchford's piece, but it's this kind of messaging that the government we live with at the moment depends on. Messaging is the order of the day and sadly I see too much compliance in that effort.

I read messages from Ottawa journo's on a daily basis that state they will not be given an opportunity to question the PM or a Minister, or, they will be allowed one question and only if they are deigned deserving. Can't quite figure out how they put up with that, but what are they to do?

In place of that of course, we have an excess of opinion, friendly local media spin, oh and that ever reliable source, talk radio. Canada, we have a problem.

That said, I sense there is a mood to seek the truth here. This issue isn't being dismissed and make of that what you will, I think it bodes well.

Additionally, I suspect that more and more real information will emerge. That is what is needed here. Colvin has nothing to gain by his coming forward.

Here's hoping, for the sake of our national reputation and the protection of our troops, that others find his courage.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Demeaning Our Democracy

It is clear that our current government is comfortable with employing the tactic of, character assassination, when it suits them. Sometimes it's to gain political advantage, or, as is happening now, it is to cover themselves.

I've been thinking back over the time they have been in office and who they have attacked in the most vicious and spiteful ways. In the House of Commons, I recall being appalled as Harper attempted to smear Navdeep Bains over a speculative story about a family member in the Sun media. Also in the House, I remember Vic Toews, screaming at the top of his lungs the most vile things about Louise Arbour. Then, there was Jason Kenney at a committee meeting who went after Gen Roméo Dallaire re'the Omar Khadr case. Of course there was also the despicable Taliban lovers reference to anyone who brought up prisoner abuse in Afghanistan.

We aren't talking about back benchers here. This dangerous behaviour is coming from the leader of the Conservative party and his Ministers. There is no regard for the person they attack, their family or their reputation. We know what they did to Stephane Dion and now Michael Ignatieff and last week of course, Minister MacKay and Laurie Hawn, have begun to slowly erode the credibility of Richard Colvin. Even going so far to portray him as a Taliban stooge.

These tactics, (which of course are part of a larger strategy), I maintain do tremendous damage not only to the people being attacked, but to our democracy as a whole.

In a democracy such as ours, you expect a government to be open, truthful and above all not to attack it's own citizens. You further expect citizens to feel they can come forward, or just go about their daily work, without worry of being maligned by the government.

That is not what we have with Harper in power. As I saw it described somewhere this weekend, there are thugs in the party that have no compunction in destroying someone if it somehow advances the so-called, Conservative cause. This is not your grandmother's notion of Conservative mind you. No, instead we have a government that has lied to us on numerous occasions and seems to think that it is above the law or at least the spirit of the law.

They insult our intelligence, waste our money and manipulate the media, all in the name of advancing their agenda.

I won't pretend that life was all sweetness and light when the Liberals were in power. We certainly made our mistakes and fought to maintain power, but not like this. Not to the degree we are now seeing now.

Consider the 10 per center's put out last week by CPC back benchers. Accusing the Liberals of being anti-Semitic is apparently their idea of fair game and a way to operate while in government. Not in my world and I'm sure not in the world of many Jewish Canadians. Taking on Irwin Cotler? I found this to be an interesting response and for the record, the Lib's have asked that the rules be changed.

What our government is doing both disgusts and saddens me. A lying, thuggish government that ignores motions and Bills passed in the House, that plays at the margins of election laws re'spending, (In and Out trial coming up next week btw), ignores International Treaties and now is faced with proving that they haven't broken International Human Rights laws, doesn't sound like the Canada I know and love. Nor does Canada come to mind when I think of a government attempting to destroy good people in an effort to either increase their poll standings, or more often, create a false narrative.

There will be another Afghanistan Committee meeting this week. This one seems designed to further try and discredit Richard Colvin. It is important to note that absolutely no one who does not have an association to the government has disputed what Richard Colvin has said. In fact, his testimony has been corroborated at the highest levels, and not just in this country. Nor is Canada the only country taking note of this issue. Oh and for all the government's braying, the truth on some of the detail is starting to come out.

Obviously, this is a story that we as Canadians should be engaged in. Will we be though? Has Harper demeaned our democracy to such an extent that people simply can't bear to look, let alone get involved any more?

I sincerely hope not.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Raise Your Hand if You Are Surprised

Let me begin by apologising for being gone so long. No, I did not have H1N1, but I seem to have the mother of all colds and couldn't concentrate enough to post. I tweeted now and then, but that was all I could manage. Still not back, but have this to offer.

Duffy made his debut tonight on the new CBC show, Power and Politics. He made an ass of himself, which frankly wasn't a surprise to me.

Did you watch and listen to that? Were you surprised?

What is funny, nay, obvious, to me is just how partisan this guy is and I guess we know now, always has been. I don't get the attraction to be willing to appear to be a jerk, but it's got it's appeal apparently. I've watched newly minted Conservative MP's in the House and in committee meetings. They all strike the same note, which tells me they have some kind of "be nasty, here's how" training.

There is an unabashed nastiness attached to what they say. I here-by push the media to quote them more often, because I don't think Canadians have a clue who these people are and how contemptuous they are toward what most Canadians think this country is all about.

To those who follow, I do have something to say about the gun registry vote and Van Loan's delay of the report, the stupid partisan EAP signs, Lisa Raitt, H1N1, the Olympic torch run/stops, the AG's report...okay, there is a lot to talk about. I have been paying attention.

In addition to Duffy's idiocy, feel free to bring up any or all of these subjects in comments.

Will be back soon.