Author Topic: Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official  (Read 6471 times)

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Offline The Ruxted Group

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Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official
« on: November 11, 2007, 06:28:24 »
Link to original article on ruxted.ca

Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official

The Ruxted Group pays careful attention to Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin; he is well connected in Ottawa and offers penetrating insights about Canadian politics. We have taken issue with him, however, when he tried, without merit, to tie Prime Minister Harper’s support for the Afghanistan Mission to a ‘failure’ to deploy to Darfur. That was arrant nonsense. We also objected to his abuse of the Vimy commemorations to launch an unsupported personal attack on General Rick Hillier.

We think that a fair reading of Mr. Martin’s columns indicates that he is no friend of Prime Minister Harper, primarily, it appears, because Mr. Harper is less distant than other Canadian political leaders from Mr. Martin’s personal Great Satan: George W. Bush. It is odd, therefore, to find him acting as a shill for Prime Minister Harper’s political aides.

Mr. Martin renews his nasty personal attack on General Hillier, this time insinuating (following a previously debunked assertion by Stephen Staples) that General Hillier is, in some mysterious way, militarizing Canada and making Canadian foreign policy. That too is rubbish: the product of feverishly ill-informed ‘minds.’

We agree with the unnamed "senior Harper official” that “His [General Hillier’s] role is not to be the chief spokesman for the mission." That’s exactly right. The “chief spokesman for the mission” ought to be Prime Minister Harper. He ought to be aided by Foreign Minister Bernier and Defence Minister McKay. The whole process ought to be coordinated by the “senior Harper official” who is responsible for communication. That person and the assistant spin doctors appear unwilling or unable to explain Canada’s vital interests to Canadians. That person appears unwilling to tell Canadians why dozens of our very best men and women have died in Afghanistan. Instead, an unnamed official is deployed to whinge to Lawrence Martin because General Hillier, unlike Martin, is unwilling to become a partisan political shill for the government.

What Lawrence Martin fails to understand is that while it is the PM’s staff’s job  - a job at which it is failing, miserably – to make the Prime Minister of Canada into the “chief spokesman for the mission" it ought not to interfere with the Chief of Defence Staff’s duty (and right) to speak to the men and women of the Canadian Forces – to tell them why they are in Afghanistan, to explain how long the mission might need  to go on (perhaps not with Canadians in their current roles) and to reassure them that he is fighting their fight ( for more bullets and more beans) to the comfortable officials and politicians in the risk-free corridors of power in Ottawa. That’s what he’s been doing. That’s what he is supposed to do. Mr. Martin and the person from whom he is taking dictation are spouting yet more nonsense.

We should all unite in saying, "Shame!" on Lawrence Martin’s unnamed official for the sneak attack (from the shadows of anonymity) on Canada’s top soldier. But: we expect that with enemies like that General Hillier sleeps easily at night, knowing he’s won the intellectual and moral battle hands down.

The Ruxted Group challenges the spineless “senior Harper official” to stop hiding in the dark corners: be brave, show your face, stop using Lawrence Martin as a shill. Come out and tell Canadians why General Hillier cannot be the “champion of those brave men and women ... Canada's sons and daughters” – heaven knows the Prime Minister’s Office is not doing the job.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2007, 07:51:15 by George Wallace »

Offline Greymatters

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Re: Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2007, 14:29:10 »
Good article - I would be interested to know how much coverage does Ruxted get from these?  Does anyone in Ottawa actually read it?




Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2008, 12:11:43 »
This article by war correspondent Christie Blatchford, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail reinforces the point about the source of the anti-military and anti-Hillier bias inside Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s inner circle:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080126.BLATCHFORD26/TPStory?cid=al_gam_globeedge
Quote
BLATCHFORD'S TAKE: TROUBLING QUESTIONS
Government out of the loop on detainees? Give me a break

CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD

January 26, 2008

Oh, please: The Stephen Harper government didn't know that the Canadian military had stopped handing over Afghan detainees last fall, after Canadian monitors found what they called a credible allegation of torture?

This claim, made Thursday night by the Prime Minister's communications director, Sandra Buckler, was being hastily retracted by Ms. Buckler less than 24 hours later.

"I should not have said what I said to you," she told The Globe and Mail's Campbell Clark yesterday. "I misspoke, and I wanted to make sure you were aware of that." Then she refused to say whether she "misspoke" because she said something she shouldn't have or because she said something that was wrong, and declined further comment. And she - madness! -- is the PM's communications director.

Knock me down with a feather: Ms. Buckler misspeaks, slurs the Canadian Forces and gives credence to all those who were already, as Mike Duffy noted Thursday on CTV NewsNet, pointing the finger of blame at Chief of the Defence Staff Rick Hillier and what? She gets to say, albeit in a magnificently unhelpful way, "Oops"?

Off with her head.

Oops, I misspoke. I mean, fire that woman.

Then later yesterday, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said that when he and deputy leader Michael Ignatieff were in Afghanistan earlier this month, they were briefed on the policy change. If that doesn't put the lie to the government's claim of "We didn't know," what does? You can be sure that if the opposition is being told about something, the government knew eons before.

Yet what is far more interesting than the duplicitous double-speak coming from this government is what it reveals both about its control-freak mentality (that if its first instinct is to say nothing, its second is to blame someone outside the circle of wagons, often the military) and the troubling, giddy eagerness with which the claim was sucked into the 24-7 media machine and spun out virtually unaltered for hours at a stretch.

The very notion that the evil Canadian military machine had kept the government in the dark on this is - and was from the get-go - preposterous on its face.

Documents obtained and posted online by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, whose lawyer was this week in Federal Court trying to stop the prisoner transfers, which, as it happened, had stopped already, make it blindingly clear that practically everyone of importance in Mr. Harper's government certainly knew that Canada's monitors had identified at least one credible case of torture.

Copied on every one of the reports of the monitors' eight site visits - including the seminal one on Nov. 5 when the credible case came to light - was David Mulroney, associate deputy minister in Foreign Affairs and the PM's hand-picked interdepartmental co-ordinator for Afghanistan.

Also copied on some or all of the site reports are Susan Cartwright, the Privy Council Office adviser on foreign and defence policy to Mr. Harper; Jill Sinclair, assistant secretary to the cabinet; Vera Alexander from the PCO; Cindy Termorshuizen, a deputy director in Foreign Affairs; Colleen Swords, assistant deputy minister in the international security branch of Foreign Affairs; Suzanne Hurtabise, deputy minister in the Public Safety Department headed by Stockwell Day and Correctional Service of Canada Commissioner Keith Coulter.

The author of the Nov. 5 report was Nicholas Gosselin, Canada's human-rights and detainee officer in Kandahar who, according to evidence he gave recently in the Federal Court case, was in Afghanistan for the rest of the month.

Now, perhaps none of these people who received Mr. Gosselin's report on the Foreign Affairs net - marked SECRET CEO, for "Canadian Eyes Only" - was moved to ask the screamingly obvious question, that is, what are we doing about this?

In fact, as the Federal Court heard this week, as soon as Colonel Christian Juneau, then the acting commander on the ground in Kandahar, was told about the case, he did what most Canadians would expect he do - on Nov. 6, the day after Mr. Gosselin's report was sent out, Col. Juneau ordered that our troops stop transferring enemy prisoners to Afghan authorities.

Would the colonel have kept this a dark secret when he had to know all of Foreign Affairs and the PCO were as a matter of course getting Mr. Gosselin's report? The answer is no. Would General Hillier have done it? The answer is no. And had the military tried to keep it quiet, would they have succeeded? Only if David Mulroney et al are possessed of a remarkable lack of curiosity on the file the PM has identified as his most critical one.

So how, then, did the story get such traction, both on television and in print?

The answer is that under Mr. Harper, the messages are so tightly controlled that many in government and in the military, having felt the sting of the PM's disappointment or fury before, have been rendered timorous, afraid to speak up, on the record or off it.

The result in this case was that with Gen. Hillier in the air Thursday when this story broke - he was en route to resume the rare holiday he had already interrupted to return to Ottawa to discuss the Manley report, apparently with the PM and cabinet - there was in his absence no one willing or able to risk disputing Ms. Buckler's now-discredited allegation that the Canadian Forces had kept the government in the dark.

A second factor, I think, is that every story now, whether it is about Paris Hilton or the mission to Afghanistan, is subjected to the same unquestioning hyperbole. We in the press seem to suffer somewhat from a version of what in badly behaved children is called oppositional defiance disorder; we mistrust our own institutions such that we are fully prepared to accept, at least for story purposes, that the Canadian military would try to keep the government, which soldiers know better than anyone else is properly its master, out of the loop.

In this instance, it was evident from the beginning that if all the wheels in Foreign Affairs and the PCO knew about the original sin - that is, the allegation of torture - the odds were awfully good they would also have been informed about the short-term cure, the policy change instituted by Col. Juneau.

Mr. Harper made a speech to Tory faithful late yesterday. He made not a mention of the disgraceful whirlwind his very office set in motion, although he urged the gathering to read the Manley commission report. He ought to give it another go himself. He seems to have missed its central thrust - that he has done a hideous job of keeping Canadians up to speed about the mission to Afghanistan.

I need to repeat: I am a card carrying, regularly contributing true blue Conservative; I wouldn’t vote for Dion’s Liberals if they were the only choice on the ballot and I think Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton, and their parties, are bad jokes. But: I am not blind to the fact that Prime Minister Harper and his close, personal staff are anti-military and, at the very best, weak sisters when it comes to the Afghanistan mission.

They (Harper’s closest advisors and staff assistants) have lied, over and over again, about Gen. Hillier in an attempt to control or undermine him and to subvert his “message” to the armed forces he heads and to Canadians – the parents, spouses, children, brother and sisters and friends and neighbours of our armed forces’ members.

Prime Minster Harper has been a notable and singular failure at explaining (much less defending) the mission in Afghanistan – most likely, I believe because he only considers the mission as a partisan political device that he can use to sow dissention in the ranks of the Liberal Party of Canada. In other words: Prime Minister Harper – my prime minister, head of my party – cares little about the troops and their mission. His only concern is the next election.

Maybe that’s the way it has to be in 21st century Canada, but Blatchford’s description of a “disgraceful whirlwind” is spot on.

 
 
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Jed

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Re: Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2008, 13:00:57 »
I am in 100% agreement with your observations on this one, Mr. Campbell.
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Re: Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2008, 13:22:26 »
They (Harper’s closest advisors and staff assistants) have lied, over and over again, about Gen. Hillier in an attempt to control or undermine him and to subvert his “message” to the armed forces he heads and to Canadians – the parents, spouses, children, brother and sisters and friends and neighbours of our armed forces’ members.

Sad to say, if the PM felt the advisors/assistants were not representing what he felt were his interests, his views or his agenda, as political hires, they would be easy to fire - yet they remain....
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2008, 17:35:54 »
Conservative drones MPs have been sent out to lie defend the indefensible according to this article, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080126.whcaucus0126/BNStory/National/home
Quote
Conservatives send designated MPs to defend Buckler
 
ALEXANDER PANETTA

The Canadian Press

January 26, 2008 at 5:01 PM EST

OTTAWA — A Conservative MP said it's up to the Prime Minister to decide whether to fire his chief spokeswoman for making false statements about Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

The government sent out two designated speakers Saturday — one English, one French — to defend Prime Minister Stephen Harper's communications director Sandra Buckler.

Other Conservatives grumbled privately that her misleading remarks are the latest example of how a potential good-news story about the Afghan mission has been plunged into the bowels of public-relations hell.

Alberta MP Art Hanger was not one of the officially designated spokespeople sent out to defend Ms. Buckler.

He offered a curt and unenthusiastic reply when asked whether the prime minister should fire his communications director.

“You ask the Prime Minister that question,” Mr. Hanger replied outside a Conservative caucus meeting.

“I'm not about to answer it.”

Ms. Buckler was quoted in news reports this week saying the military had kept the government in the dark about a halt in the transfer of prisoners to Afghan jails last November.

The transfers were halted amid mounting evidence of abuse by Afghan officials, which would place the Afghans and the Canadians who turned them over in possible violation of the Geneva conventions against torture.

When asked why the government withheld information from the public, from Parliament, and from the blue-ribbon panel hired to chart Canada's future policy in Afghanistan, Ms. Buckler said the Canadian Forces had kept it secret.

Ms. Buckler's statement provoked outrage within her own government and particularly infuriated military officials.

Some news organizations gave little prominence to her remarks because they simply assumed them to be untrue. But at least one newspaper — the Globe and Mail — quoted her in a front-page news story.

Amid outrage at the Department of National Defence, frustration among political staff, a mounting paper trail of contradictory evidence, and the fact that even the opposition Liberals were aware of the new policy, Ms. Buckler recanted Friday.

She told reporters she had “misspoken” — but didn't explain how she'd misspoken and then refused further comment.

At a Tory caucus retreat Saturday, Tory House Leader Peter Van Loan and Quebec MP Christian Paradis issued identical statements in defence of their boss's spokeswoman.

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

“If everybody on the Hill who misspoke 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.”

Mr. Paradis later came out and repeated the line that if everybody who “misspoke” were forced to [sic] reign, the empty corridors on Parliament Hill would echo with the sound of silence.

But one telephone receiver was shaking with the sound of screaming as a livid Department of National Defence official vented his fury at the Prime Minister's Office.

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.”

A number of Conservative political staffers appeared to share his frustration. One said Ms. Buckler was made aware of the halt in transfers soon after the policy decision was made on Nov. 6, 2007.

And one said the ensuing communications chaos was the result of bad choices.

He said there were strategic military reasons for keeping the change quiet and he said he understood them.

But the slew of unflattering headlines about secrecy, flip-flops, and of torture revelations being dragged out in court documents could have been avoided in November, he added. And he said it could have been done honestly and straightforwardly, without compromising the mission.

“Things weren't capitalized on when they could have been,” said the government source.

“Why would we not have proactively shouted this from the rooftops (in November) and said, 'Look how well our agreement is working. We have temporarily suspended (transfers) until they get their act together. Things should be back to normal in a few days,” he said.

“We are serious when we say we stand for human rights. . . But this feeds this continuing belief that the government is secretive — unnecessarily so.”

The appearance of secrecy was only fuelled by the sight of dozens of Conservative MPs escaping through back corridors to avoid answering questions as they emerged from a caucus meeting.

Mr. Van Loan and Mr. Paradis were sent before the news cameras.

But their colleague Sylvie Boucher probably summed up the sentiments of many as she beat a hasty path from one meeting room to the next.

“I want to avoid running into journalists,” she said.

When informed she was speaking to one, the Quebec City MP replied: “It's not that I don't like you. I just have nothing to say.”

I’m pleased that some “military officials” are, publicly, outraged. Sandra Buckler may well be a brilliant ”communications” strategist but she is also too prone to lie about the military matters and its leaders in her efforts to serve the partisan ends of her political master. It’s time some uniformed people told the truth about her. Senior military officers have earned the right to spit in the eye of any political hack’s eye – no matter who she serves.

It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2008, 22:51:37 »
Some people believe it is "loyal" to safeguard the lies and misdeeds of those to whom one is loyal.  Speaking the truth and whole truth is characterized as "ratting out", as if it - and not lying - were the reprehensible act.

True loyalty is coming forward to accept the consequences of your actions and policies before any of your friends or followers has to face an unexpected and uncomfortable question.  True loyalty is informing those in your circles to speak the truth as they know it if they feel compelled to not remain silent.  True loyalty is not asking your friends and subordinates to lie.

I don't care to hear any more from politicians about the importance of being "loyal" to superiors and parties, because in the majority of cases I don't believe what they are talking about is loyalty at all.  It is conspiracy.
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Offline TCBF

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Re: Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2008, 23:20:02 »
Sad to say, if the PM felt the advisors/assistants were not representing what he felt were his interests, his views or his agenda, as political hires, they would be easy to fire - yet they remain....

- Maybe they have used up their 'fired' quota this month.

 8)
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Re: Shame on Lawrence Martin’s Unnamed Official
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2008, 13:17:30 »
“The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” -- Roy H. Williams

The words I share here are my own, not those of anyone else or anybody I may be affiliated with.

Tony Prudori
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