Sunday, November 22, 2009


Finally, Canadian sensibilities have apparently been offended by the revelations to a Committee of the House of Commons that Taliban prisoners captured by Canadian troops and turned over to Afghan police were tortured.

Though Canada "came of age" in the War To End All Wars between 1914 and 1918; and subsequently grew into one of the world's foremost economic and military powers in the Second World War from 1939 to 1945; we are neither a warring nation nor a combative people.

What is more shocking to me, and has been since we became involved in the Afghanistan fiasco as Jean Chretien's panacea to the folly of the American Iraq invasion; is how in this process we have obliterated our honoured international image and reputation as the planet's foremost peacekeeper.

In this endeavour, there is enough blame to share all around: The successive Liberal governments of Mr. Chretien and Paul Martin committed us to this error of our way. Just as appalling (more so perhaps) it seems the current government then concocted and orchestrated a ruse to cover-up allegations of prisoner abuses, and perhaps other of war's nasty fall-out, once the rumours began to circulate almost three years ago.

The charges from a senior diplomat, Richard Colvin, who then represented Canada in the Afghanistan capital and is now based at our Embassy in Washington are not shocking. The shock is in the aggressive campaign to discredit his testimony. Successive government spokespeople this week including Cabinet Ministers John Baird and Peter MacKay, as well as the former Chief-Of-Defence Staff, Rick Hillier, feigned ignorance of the allegations while (in some cases at least) openly calling into question Colvin's credibility. Except for the tragedy of the circumstances it was as if the Caribbean trio "The Baha Men" had reunited to carol - "(Who) Let The Dogs Out" - Give me a friggin' break!

The reality is that one Cabinet Minister, the hapless former Minister of Defence, Gordon O'Connor, already paid for this one by being unceremoniously demoted to Minister of Revenue (bean counter to the nation), from whence he's been uncharacteristically silent ever since...most noticeably in the aftermath of this week's Colvin confessions.

It will take decades (if ever) for Canada to regain the trust of the world, particularly in the conflict riddled emerging countries of the middle and near east, and reacquire our honourable reputation for fairness and a balanced approach to securing and maintaining peace in far off lands. Fessing-up to our mistakes instead of pillorying the messenger, and breaking free of Afghanistan before the conflict turns even uglier would be a good start.

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