Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Read this post or you're with the terrorists

As I read a story today on the Cons overriding normal defence procurement procedures for "national security reasons" it finally became abundantly clear to me that the Harper Conservatives are slowly adopting the same strategy as their American cousins: We're at war, so rally behind the leader and ask no questions.

That the enemy is undefined and the conditions for victory unclear is even better: the war can go on for the foreseeable future. As long as necessary. And, as you know, it's unpatriotic to criticize the President, err, Prime Minister, during war time, however long it may last. Think how that makes the soldiers feel.

How long will it be before the Cons are saying " You're with us or you're with the terrorists?" Actually, I guess they already are. Harper subtly. His blogging hordes much less so. Diddo "Don't you support our troops?"


It's a strategy that has been used with success by the Republicans in the U.S., although after some years of it, it may be beginning to ware thin. The Ned Lamont story is a sign of that.


We see it happening here though now too. Take this procurement case. When defence minister Gordon "The Lobbyist" O'Connor was the opposition defence critic, and the Liberals wanted to fast track the procurement of tactical lift aircraft for the air force, O'Connor and his Conservative colleagues effectively killed the proposal. The procurement process must be followed, he demanded.


Here's two questions O'Connor lobbed at then defence minister Bill Graham in QP last September:


Mr. Gordon O'Connor (Carleton—Mississippi Mills, CPC): Mr. Speaker, abandoning competition, the minister is seeking sole source procurement of Chinook and Hercules aircraft as well as 16 army requirements for Afghanistan totaling billions of dollars. Incredibly, the request for the aircraft is going forward without an approved statement of requirement. The minister is seeking billions of dollars without competition on the basis of someone's personal preferences. This is simply unacceptable.


Without open competition and proper documentation, how do Canadians know they are getting the best equipment and price?


Mr. Gordon O'Connor (Carleton—Mississippi Mills, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the minister is bringing the thing forward to the PMO on Monday. I am tired of the usual huffing and puffing from the minister. He usually blames a staffer or CDS for his decisions. It is his decision.


This abnormal rush to sole source equipment for Afghanistan confirms that the Liberals made a politically charged decision to commit troops to a high risk mission without ensuring they were properly equipped. This is despicable politics. This sole source is political damage control that will cost Canadians billions without a guarantee of effective cost and performance.


Is this the seed for a future Auditor General's investigation?


It would seem that Mr. O'Connor has changed his time somewhat since last fall. Now, we need to fast track the procurement to get this stuff to the troops faster. But wait, last year you said this was bad, and now, not only are you fast tracking, you want to reopen levels of regional porkbarelling outlawed since 1994…stop, don't question it, it's a matter of national security. (Accidental Deliberations has more on the contracting.)Don't you support our troops?


Then there's Con MP Garth Turner's circulation of a chain letter encouraging everyone to wear red every Friday to show their support for our troops. As Red Tory pointed out, initiatives like this invoke "the subtle implication that if one doesn’t support the mission, then by extension, one doesn’t support the troops and furthermore that one isn’t a “red-blooded Canadian.”


And, of course, supporting the troops means not questioning the government's policies, and unreservedly supporting the leader. Viva El Presidente!


Exhibit C: The debate in Parliament on the extension of the Afghanistan mission. It was hasty, debate was cut off, and it served no other purpose then to attempt to expose rifts in the Liberal caucus during a leadership race and paint the Liberals as "against our troops."


While the Democrats let continual war strategy neuter them, we Liberals need to avoid the snip snip. Its grade school debating tactics exported to the national policy arena.


I can support our troops and still question if, in light of the mounting casualty toll, we need to re-examine our strategy and tactics in Afghanistan. I can support our troops and wear my Canucks jersey on Fridays. I can support our troops and highlight the Conservative procurement flip-flop.


And you bet I can support our troops and still call out Harper, O'Connor and others for using our soldiers as cover for their own political machinations, and politicizing the military for their own political gain.


"National security" isn't good enough, Gordon. Sorry Steve, but "Liberals don't support our troops" won't fly. It may have worked for Dubaya but this is Canada, and we just have one thing to say to those that try to float that line of malarkey: Take off, Eh!

UPDATE: Here's a prime example of what I'm talking about, served up by a Blogging Tory this evening. Apperantly, by raising questions about the war in Afghanistan, "liberals" want to oppress Afghan women. I kid you not. Wrote Conservative Life:

Liberals want to bring Canadian soldiers home so that Afghan women can once again fend for themselves - cold and heartless for the sake of cheap political points. But Afghan women don't vote in Canadian elections so they are not important to liberals.

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21 comments:

Garth Turner said...

Hey, Jeff:

Wake up and rad more than every second word, buddy. I did not encourage anybody to wear red on Fridays, but merely reprinted a chain letter so people can see another application of the latest net aresenal.

Here's my intro:

"I received this Sunday afternoon. The chain letter appears completely fictional, but I thought you’d want to know what’s circulating, given the events of the last few days.

I sense we are entering a phase of public debate so familiar in the US but virtually unknown here. Do we fight and suffer losses for a goal many see as ill-defined, or support our troops and our government in patrotic trust?

Fifteen thousand people marched against Israel today in Montreal. It should be lost on nobody that federal separatist leader Gilles Duceppe was at the head of it. In the cauldron of public opinion, these two conflicts can end up as the soup of political opportunism.

This is a time Canadians will be increasingly bombarded with messaging. The chain letter, crude and juvenile as it may be, is turning more potent."

So, get it right or shut up.

Personal regards,
Garth

Zac said...

Jeff, great post.

Be proud to wear that Canucks jersey on Fridays!

A BCer in Toronto said...

Garth,

Thank-you for the personal regards. I acknowledge my mistake and I've reworded the post. I still feel, however, that given your intro, your comments in the following comment thread, and the fact you posted it at all, would certainly seem to indicate your approval of the idea. You aren't launching the crusade though, so I was wrong there. My bad.

And let me also say thank-you for visiting my humble blog and commenting, therby raising the level of debate with your rapier wit and intellect. "Get it right, or shut up." Why, it's positively Shakespearean. Garth, you are a credit to the House of Commons. Why Steve didn't put you in cabinet, I will never know. Carry on the good fight sir!

Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

Wow. I have never heard an MP telling a canadian citizen to "shut up".

Did this really come from Garth?

If so.... Mr.Turner, a certain level of decorum is expected from the people elected to represent Canada in Parliament.

Telling people to "Shut up" like Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, is not up to that standard.

Canadians perform a great service to their country when they speak out, when they criticize, when they dissent. It's one of the things that makes Canada a great country, that we still do have the freedom to criticize our government without fear of retribution or censure.

By doing so, they provide you, the representatives with invaluable feedback about what kind of a job you are doing as leaders.

There is nothing unpatriotic about questioning what political leaders are doing. To offer a differing point of view or to simply say "I don't agree".

As for Gilles Duceppes marching for Peace in the Middle East, (Sorry Garth, I actually saw the coverage this morning --and I very distinctly heard him calling for an immediate cease fire - and he was not marching "against Israel" -- so that dog is not going to hunt, so please don't try to muddy the waters)

And I find it amazing, that in light of the email that your party sent out less than 10 days ago appealing for funds with the subtext about the middle east-conflict,that you would have ANYTHING to say about "political opportunism" to be a little... um... how shall I put this gently...

hypocrticial.

Come on Garth, you are better than this.

And while we are on the subject -- when is your party going to meet the request of the CEO of Elections Canada, and hand in all the documents he requested about the Convention and the lack of your party declaring the fees as contributions, as well as the matter of cheque-swapping?

Since all of that needs to be cleared up before your party gets their allotted portion of funds from the government, is this why the CPC is sending out crass and opportunisit email appeals for funds right now?

Anonymous said...

Garth . . . Your comment about "get it right or shut up" doesn't apply here. After all, the Liberals have never let a minor thing such as the truth get in the way of a good story. see: Reuters, CBC, etc.

Zac said...

Was that really Garth Turner?

CfSR said...

And he wasn't starting a holy war with Charles McVety either.

Turner should live by some or all of his own words.

Walks With Coffee said...

Meaghan,

The CPC does the "shut up" thing all the time... ie or we will litigate stuff we have seen... and the threats to the publiceyeonline that has lead to edited posts and entire threads being removed. Nevertheless, a request to correct the record is fair... "shut up" is juvenile.

Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

Walks with Coffee,

ya ya, I know. But they are generally more..uh... polite about it. Seriously, I've met lots of MPs, had lots of discussions where I have had a difference of opinion. Never once did an MP say to me "Shut up"


Shut up or what? I wonder. I guess you already covered that.

Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

On second thought.. maybe Garth is just having a bad day.

Maybe somebody needs a hug.

*everybody quick - run over to Garth's blog and give him a quick cyber hug*

burlivespipe said...

Very astute post. As someone else noted quite a long time ago somewhere in the blogsphere, the tories are trying to frame every argument in a 'with us or ag'in us' attitude, from the middle east, terrorism at home, childcare etc. That their cheap ploy of a gst cut -- while raising personal taxes -- is getting little investigation in the media. My paycheck is smaller by $9 every two weeks, but i sure as heck don't spend $900 on gst taxable items. Everything is being framed as 'their initiative' including ideas and policies they opposed in opposition. I continuously pull out the accountability issue that seems to been swallowed hook, line and sinker by the msm and general public. Since his election, i'd give him a failing grade on this score except in propoganda. As you point out, he's on course to copy many of the actions of mulrooney, non-tendered and unaccountable awards ad infinitum.
But what are our leaders doing about it?

ferrethouse said...

Apperantly, by raising questions about the war in Afghanistan, the Liberal Party wants to oppress Afghan women

Wrong. Don't quote me incorrectly - that is so CBCish.

I only used a capital for the word "liberal" at the beginning of a sentence. My scorn is for the NDP and SELECT "L"iberals. The Liberal Party doesn't know what it stands for so how could I stereotype them?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Thank-you for that important correction Ferrethouse. It's not the "Liberal Party" that wants to oppress Afghan women, just everyone on the left wing of the political spectrum. Good of you to set the record straight.

Olaf said...

Jeff:

You've set up quite the potemkin village here:

"I can support our troops and still question if, in light of the mounting casualty toll, we need to re-examine our strategy and tactics in Afghanistan. I can support our troops and wear my Canucks jersey on Fridays. I can support our troops and highlight the Conservative procurement flip-flop."

That's a little self righteous don't you think? Do you really think any reasonable conservative or otherwise would suggest that you are un-Canadian for wearing your Canucks jersey on Fridays.

Try keeping things at least somewhat credible. I know how the left revels in comparing Stephen Harper to GWB, there is nothing more satisfying than simplifying every situation in that way. The Conservative's used a 'national security' clause as a loophole to get something done they wanted to get done. They didn't make a big deal out of it, they didn't say "we're at war, so rally behind the leader and ask no questions", they didn't call any criticism anti-Canadian or anything of the sort (although some bloggers might, you can find a blogger that will say anything).

You're drawing extremely tenuous conclusions from sparse evidence and conjecture and embarrassing yourself in the process. Good luck with that.

ps To all of those Liberal bloggers griping about decorum and civility from our elected leaders, please remember Pierre.

ottlib said...

Well I read the post so I guess I'm one of the good guys.

Thanks for clearing that up for me BCer.

Anonymous said...

Garth getting a little testy these days? Oh, I know, it's the "bully" tactic the Harper group use.

Anyway, originally the wives of the soldiers wanted this wear red on Friday so we can show our support. I don't think it means anything one way or the other about showing support, but if it helps the wives get through it, why not. After all, Harper won't lower the flags for them.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Olaf,

Thanks for teaching me a new term, potemkin village. I think my potemkin village would have universal childcare though.

Anyway, I feel the examples I've mentioned, and others, indicate the beginning of a trend here in Canada that we've seen over the last nunmber of years. You're free to disagree. I'm free to be concerned.

The not so subtle message with all these wear red or yellow ribbon type-things is that if you don't take part, you don't support the troops. That you're unpatriotic. It's peer pressure to surrender to the groupthink.

Ottlib, you're a Great Canadian (TM).

Chris Schnurr said...

This is clearly an American based email, modified for Canada (though grammatically, its author may wish to brush up a bit).

Yes. I support our troops -- I support them in that we bring them home quickly. Far too many lives are being lost to clean up after the American's who helped create this disaster that our troops so selflessly volunteered to clean up.

I support them, if they have to be there, but I pin the blame for every Canadian killed in Afghanistan on the United States and their inability to finish what they started.

I will wear red in protest and support. Not for God. Not for country. But for the blood of each and every life living and lost in Afghanistan because of political "leadership". But let's keep God out of this. He is probably horrified at our global behaviour.

Chris Schnurr said...

Olaf:

Try keeping things at least somewhat credible. I know how the left revels in comparing Stephen Harper to GWB, there is nothing more satisfying than simplifying every situation in that way. The Conservative's used a 'national security' clause as a loophole to get something done they wanted to get done. They didn't make a big deal out of it, they didn't say "we're at war, so rally behind the leader and ask no questions", they didn't call any criticism anti-Canadian or anything of the sort (although some bloggers might, you can find a blogger that will say anything).

Olaf, the Prime Minister could have used Article 508 in Internal Trade to achieve his goals:

(a) the exclusion of the procurement does not operate to impair unduly the access of persons, goods, services or investments of another Party;
(b) the exclusion of the procurement is not more trade restrictive than necessary to achieve its specific objective;
(c) notice of all such excluded procurements is provided by one or more of the methods specified in Article 506(2) and the notice provides details of the exceptional circumstances; and
(d) the Party seeks to minimize the discriminatory effects of the exclusion on suppliers of the other Parties.


So, 508 clearly states that the PM can do this, albeit if necessary steps are taken. Or is that what Harper truly wants to do is impair the access of persons, goods, services or investments of another Party, namely individuals/firms that support the Liberal party.

National defence, my @#$%.

Will this be ConScam? So much for accountability and transparency.

Anonymous said...

We all knew and Pierre didn't pretend to be the nice guy all the time. Garth is playing Mr. Nice Guy who likes to play Mr. Technical and pretend that his mind is open.

Does he ever do any work for his constituents or does he spend his time playing Mr. Blog and reading Liberal blogs?

Noel M said...

If you google "The Daughter of a Soldier", you'll find that the email definitely originated in the US (referencing the airport in Atlanta, Georgia) and has been altered by someone to spam Canucks.

I'm not at all surprised that a Conservative MP would appear to endorse this kind of drivel.

However, I am saddened.