Cyberwanderer’s Blog

January 27, 2008

Harper defend Sandra Buckler botched cover up

Filed under: Canada,Politics — cyberwanderer @ 11:12 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

harperpoint.jpg Harper run his government in such secrecy that it always leave people wondering where he really stands. First there was another episode of Foreign Affairs minister Bernier bungling in international stage. Maxime Bernier left reporter scratching their head for refusing to answer a simple question about Israel settlement in East Jerusalem. A very unusual development which can only be interpreted as either they are grossly incompetent or they are afraid to reveal what their real position is. Even U.S., Israel staunchest ally, have chided Israel on their new housing construction in East Jerusalem. But when Maxime Bernier was asked whether Canada support Israel position or that of U.S., he refused to answer the question.

Rather than back either the Israeli or the U.S. interpretation of the settlements issue, he ignored the question on both occasions it was raised during his press conference at the Palestinian foreign ministry in Ramallah.

His officials then told reporter that they will draft a clarification of their position. But next day, Toronto Star report that Canada’s stance still unclear.

“Traditionally, there hasn’t been any ambiguity in our policy,” a Canadian expert on the Middle East told the Star today. “There might be some ambiguity now.” The expert did not wish to be identified by name because some of his work is funded by the Canadian government.

Neither Bernier nor Canadian officials travelling with him said anything publicly today to clear up the confusion that now surrounds Ottawa’s stance regarding the volatile issue of new Israeli housing construction on land that once belonged to Palestinians.

A Canadian middle east expert said:

“The traditional Canadian policy has been, any building beyond the Green line is a violation of international law,”

The green Line represents Israel’s borders as they were in 1949 when an armistice formally ended the war between Arabs and Jews that broke out following the Jewish state’s establishment a year earlier ( U.S. position is in synch with most other western state with Canada now appearing to be the exception.

Sandra Buckler blame defence official

buckler.jpgNow another secrecy and confusion is developing over the Afghanistan prisoner exchange. The military decided to stop transfer of prisoner to Afghanistan on allegation that they were being tortured. There were heated debate at that time in Parliament about the issue and Harper, as it is unravelling now, appears to have known the prisoner transfer have been stopped by the military on November 5. This is the same day Peter Mackay visited Afghanistan. But Harper act like there was no change in policy probably to protect himself from embarrassment. He have been strongly against Liberal demand that the transfer be stopped until Canada can be sure the prisoners are not being subjected to torture, a violation of Geneva convention of which Canada is a signatory. Harper ridiculed Liberal position and accused them of being Taliban sympathizer.

Globe and Mail reported that:

Justice Department lawyers contesting a Federal Court bid by rights groups to halt the transfers revealed on Wednesday that Canada stopped transferring prisoners into Afghan custody on Nov. 5, but Mr. Harper and his senior ministers had never mentioned it, despite repeated questions in the Commons.

“This is a government that lied to the people, that lied to the House, which manipulated public opinion, which manipulated the House of Commons,” Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe told reporters Thursday in Victoriaville, Que.

On Nov. 14, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier revealed that Canadian officials “did see a Taliban prisoner with conditions that concerned them.” But Mr. Harper said then that the transfer agreement “works well.” The next day, Mr. Bernier said that Afghan authorities had launched an investigation.

So the question now becomes: did Harper knew all along but was misleading everyone? And that’s where Sandra Buckler, Harper’s chief propagandist, comes in. She told reporters that the military did not inform them of the decision to stop prisoner transfer. However, Liberal leader Dion and Ignatieff just came back from Afghanistan and was briefed by the military about this matter on January 12. So Dion find it hard to believe that Peter Mackay would not have been briefed when he was there on November 5, the day policy was changed. Toronto Star reported that:

The decision was passed through the military chain of command to Gen. Rick Hillier, the chief of defence staff. Normal practice is for Hillier to inform Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who would have also informed the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues.

“If I was aware, can you believe that he was not aware, the minister of national defence?” Dion asked. “Clearly, this government is in complete confusion, so much that they want to hide the truth from Canadians.”

“He gets briefed on everything,” said a senior government official who works on the Afghan file and asked not to be identified.

This revelation, along with paper trail that would probably show otherwise and defence officials feeling slighted, forced Sandra Buckler to retract her statement and she e-mailed Globe and Mail saying:

I should not have said what I said to you, I misspoke, and I wanted to make sure you were aware of that,” she said. “I made a mistake…what I said was wrong.

Talking Point and infuriated defence officials

A Canadian Press report reveals Harper’s new talking point in their attempt to cover for Sandra Buckler. Appearing after their Tory caucus meeting, the Tory MP avoided the media and Van Loan and Paradis were sent as the only people who can talk to the media. They were armed with new talking point and spoke from the same script which is:

“She’s very credible,” Van Loan told a news conference.

“If everybody on the Hill who mis-spoke themselves once in their life had to resign, none of you would be here, I wouldn’t be here, nobody would be here on Parliament Hill.”

Paradis later came out and repeated the line that if everybody who “mis-spoke” were forced to resign, the empty corridors on Parliament Hill would echo with the sound of silence.

Mackay have lauded the Canadian Forces for maintaining an “information pipeline” to the government and keeping in “constant contact” about what happens in Afghanistan. This is probably an attempt to subdue Department of National Defence official who were outrage at the suggestion that they are incompetent and were the one concealing the fact from the government. One of the official was livid:

The military official said his colleagues are incensed by the insinuation that they would be incompetent enough to withhold key details on a politically charged file from their civilian bosses.

He said the Canadian Forces should be receiving plaudits for having signed a detainee-transfer deal when Foreign Affairs failed to do so in 2005, and for having then immediately halted transfers when proof of torture was uncovered in November.

“Instead we’ve been wearing this,” the military official said, shouting loudly enough to shake the phone receiver. He described the mood at DND as “outraged and frustrated.”

When Harper accused the Liberal of being Taliban sympathizer and not supporting the troops, he said:

I would like to see more support in the House of Commons from all sides for Canadian men and women in uniform

Harper should start with himself by stop disrespecting our men and women in uniform and using them as scapegoat or for politicking, as he often does with civil servants (which includes election chief and CNSC head among the victims).

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1 Comment »

  1. […] been revealed here through our military, Harper still refused to admit he was wrong but instead lied about not being told by the military. << back to Main Blog page […]

    Pingback by Harper still in denial, Hillier upset « Cyberwanderer’s Blog — January 29, 2008 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

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