Monday, 14 April 2008

Stephen Harper's Hide and Go Seek

Stephen Harper's commitment to "transparent" governance is becoming daily more transparently fraudulent.

As a new week begins, we learn that Harper's "Conservative" government intends to wage a campaign of obstruction against those who seek answers concerning the still-festering Afghan detainee fiasco. Peter Tinsley, the chair of Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC), wishes to launch a public inquiry into the handling of the detainees, believing that he requires the power of subpoena in order to access the kinds of documents that the government has been unwilling to release. The government is refusing to grant Tinsley's request for an independent investigation, arguing (fatuously) that detainee transfers is "a military operation which does not form part of the 'policing duties and functions' for which the MPCC has oversight". Of course, prisoners of war have been the responsibility of military police since time immemorial; putting a man in grey pyjamas and making sure he gets his daily bread and water is not, nor ever has been, a combat operation.

We cannot help but be impressed by the CPC's gall: their attempt to impersonate people in possession of the slightest shred of moral authority is almost convincing. Sadly, Canadians remember only too well how lustily the CPC spat unconscionable, vicious slurs against anybody willing to lend credence to the well-documented allegations that our Afghan "allies" were torturing their prisoners, allegations that were ultimately credible enough for our military (who stopped the transfers last November). You will search the public record in vain for the CPC apology to all those it slandered for raising concerns that the Armed Forces later conceded were legitimate. Given their record of snarling mendacity, the CPC cannot expect Canadians to take them at their word about anything.

Detainee transfers have resumed. Once again, we are putting POW's into the hands of the untrained, undisciplined "soldiers" of a nation riven by tribal rivalries and unfamiliar with even the most basic instrumentalities of judicial due process and rule of law. We have a right to know what went wrong last year and to be given assurances that things will not go wrong again. Even the stridently pro-war hacks of the Manley commission felt compelled to deviate from their core mission (of "independently" telling Harper what he wanted to hear) in order to denounce Harper's secretive, uncommunicative approach to the Afghan conflict. Harper had an opportunity to overcome his political reflexes and signal a new era of openness, honesty and respect by allowing the light to shine on what was (and is) a dark time in our foreign-policy history. Instead, he obeyed his instincts and once again displayed his apparently illimitable contempt for the Canadian public and its values.

As prime minister, Paul Martin launched a public inquiry into the activities of his party's Québec wing. What would have been, under the more cautious and canny Chrétien, a merely internal review carrying manageable electoral consequences turned into a devastating circus that crushed the Liberal Party nation-wide. Throughout it all, Paul Martin never uttered a single regret; he clearly felt that he had done the right thing, despite the disaster.

When even such a mediocrity is capable of evincing an heroic level of political integrity by respecting the public's right to know in selfless disregard of the political costs, so much more may we demand from a man who clearly considers himself an ethically peerless political messiah.

We must offer, then, what Stephen Harper would surely consider a most deeply excoriating rebuke: Mr. Harper, you're no Paul Martin.

17 comments:

The Trusty Tory said...

"Mr. Harper, you're no Paul Martin."

Amen for that.

Aeneas the Younger said...

And as the point soars supersonically over DBT's head ...

Ti-Guy said...

I wish DBT would resist dumbing up a discussion in the very first comment. I like those witless enthusiasms when they come after a few cogent comments (when that happens, it's really kind of adorable) but at the very beginning, it's appallingly rude.

Exercising impulse-control is the very essence of a conservative, DBT.

I can't add anything to this. Harper is behaving like a dictator if he thinks he can simply declare that certain issues are beyond the jurisdiction of the MPCC.

Catelli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catelli said...

The contrast from Martin to Harper couldn't be more striking. The biggest one I see is how Martin wanted to consult on everything, couldn't decide on anything, hence the Mr. Dithers tag.

Harper already has his mind made up on everything and consults on nothing. Hence the Asshole tag.

And now this.

Is it just me, or does the pendulum always seem to swing too far? When an extreme position develops during one government, the extreme opposite happens in the next (Ie, Bob Rae NDP to Harris Conservative in Ontario).

Probably an example of selective history revisionism, but still...

Red Tory said...

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to suggest that Martin’s call for a public inquiry was “heroic” seeing as it may just have been an effort to discredit Chrétien and/or a serious miscalculation that he would be rewarded for dealing with the matter in such an open and transparent manner, but in retrospect he looks good compared to Harper. That’s not saying much, however.

Sir Francis said...

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to suggest that Martin’s call for a public inquiry was “heroic”...

In politics, as in war, the line bewteen heroism and sheer stupidity is deucedly fine.

Ti-Guy said...

I think Martin tried to do the right thing, that only in retrospect looks like the wrong thing (more politically than substantively). I think he seriously miscalculated the political ammunition it would provide...to Liberals as well as their adversaries. I also don't think he understood how lazy the media had become.

There are scandals we still don't know anything about; Joe Clark says he will not talk about the foreign-backed coup that removed him until he writes his memoirs. Imagine what would have happened if we had heard about it at the time? The Mulroney area might not have happened and this country might still have a Progressive Conservative Party.

Red Tory said...

I’m not surprised he miscalculated. It never seemed like much of a big deal to me in the scheme of things. And yet the little Con troll-bots still carry on about it like it was the most heinous perfidy every carried out in Canadian political history…

Sir Francis said...

Red:

...the little Con troll-bots still carry on about it like it was the most heinous perfidy every carried out in Canadian political history.

The Cons will be milking Adscam well into the 22nd Century. After all, it's all they've got...

Tomm said...

RT,

In regards to the sponsorship scandal many Canadian's think...

"...it was the most heinous perfidy every carried out in Canadian political history…..."

Not to mis-quote you.

Sir Francis, sorry for the sidebar, but RT's comment was just too fat to ignore. Even I could hit that beach ball.

Tomm

Sir Francis said...

...sorry for the sidebar, but RT's comment was just too fat to ignore. Even I could hit that beach ball.

You'll never need to apologise for hitting a beach ball here. You'll need to apologise only when you miss.

As to whether or not that just happened, I'll let Red decide.

Kai_Wolf said...

Exercising impulse-control is the very essence of a conservative, DBT.

Oh, we already know that. One merely only has to look at a liberal to observe that in contrast.

Ti-Guy said...

Oh, great. My stalker's back.

DBT, you're bringing a very low element with you, I hope you realise.

Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

I agree that the government needs to be more tranparent with their actions and decisions regarding detainees. I am at a loss as well.

Tomm

Ti-Guy said...

I am at a loss as well.

Really? After over two years of hypocrisy, message control, MP muzzling, press avoidance in favour of staged media performances and partisan manipulation of government information, you're at a loss?

The only thing that surprises me with this transparent and accountable government is when it does something transparently in an accountable way.

liberal supporter said...

In regards to the sponsorship scandal many Canadian's think...

"...it was the most heinous perfidy every carried out in Canadian political history…..."

Not to mis-quote you.

Yes, but that was yesterday, Tomm.


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