Devin is pissed off, and so am I. Pretty sure we're not the only ones. Today the Harper government announced it had reached a $11.5 million settlement with Maher Arar, and offered him an apology. I'm happy about that, it's entirely appropriate and deserved.
Here's what pisses me off though. In the official letter of apology, and in the press conference, the Prime Minister of Canada decides to score partisan political points off of the case of a man sent to Syria and tortured (emphasis added):
Although these events occurred under the last government, please rest assured that this government will do everything in its power to ensure…
There's a time to be the leader of the Government of Canada, Steve, and times like this are it. To play partisan politics here, to attack the Liberals in the actual freakin' apology letter is doucebaggery of the highest degree. Particularly when you consider YOUR OWN RECORD and the record of your own party on the Arar file.
For example, in QP in November 2002, Opposition leader Harper chastised John Manley for defending Arar, whom Harper called "a suspected terrorist":
While the minister participated in high level consultations to defend a suspected terrorist, it apparently took a trip by the U.S. Secretary of State for the minister to admit what he really knew.
And Diane Ablonczy went even further:
Mr. Speaker, it is time the Liberals told the truth: that their system of screening and security checks is pathetic. Arar was given dual Syrian and Canadian citizenship by the government. It did not pick up on his terrorist links and the U.S. had to clue it in.
How is it that the U.S. could uncover this man's background so quickly when the government's screening system failed to find his al-Qaeda links?
Mr. Speaker, the government needs to take responsibility for what it is doing to protect Canadian security. The fact is that these Liberals were asleep at the switch. Arar was not properly checked. Instead, the government ran around chastising the U.S. for sending Arar back to Syria, where he is also a citizen. Why is it that the Liberal security system is so weak here that they overlook vital information that the U.S. picked up on a routine check?
Grievous mistakes were obviously made, and the previous government did its best to get to the bottom of them while Harper and his party chastised the Liberals for defending suspected terrorists.
I'm glad that the government, which is supposed to be a larger thing than a political party, has apologized to Arar and agreed to a settlement. But what should be a positive thing, something Harper would get plenty of credit and good will for otherwise, is tarnished by his playing politics and being a dick about it.
I've read many one-year stories saying how "Prime Ministerial" Harper has been. There was no Prime Minister up there today. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers