Friday, January 26, 2007

You're supposed to be Prime Ministerial, dumbass!

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

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here, here - I totally agree that this "so-called" apology was totally politcally driven. It was cold.

Harper is supposed to be representing Canada's government and the Canadian people. I'd rather do my own apology thank you very much Mr. Harper. This PM has absolutely no scruples and this use of Arar to gain political points is absolutely the most disgusting thing I've ever seen in the dirt of politics.

I can't stand to even look at Harper any more - the man makes me sick.

He is petty, immature, mean-spirited and vengeful. He needs professional help for his disturbing personality traits and I'm not kidding when I say this.

It's too bad Mr. Arar had to be used this way - he doesn't deserve it.

Bud said...

This event not only happened under the Liberal watch, but the Liberal government sat on their butts and did absolutely nothing about Arar. Harper did the right thing to distance himself from the previous Liberal government.

Anonymous said...

Bud - can you read? Did you completely ignore the blog that you are replying on? If so, I recommend you go back and read it, including the direct quotes from Hansard.

I knew Harper was going to use this as a way to score cheap political points.

Seriously pathetic. Too bad Arar did not insist on a public apology for being called a terrorist as part of the settlement.

Gayle

Bud said...

Gayle . . . I did read the entire blog. My point was that if the Liberals had taken the initiative and got to the bottom of this instead of dithering, things might have been resolved long before now. Harper and Ablonczy both commented on the facts available at the time. And those facts showed that Arar was a suspected terrorist. It was only after intense investigation that he was cleared. And I'm not giving the Conservatives credit for the investigation. All I am saying is that Paul Martin was a ditherer and because of that, this case took far too long to be resolved.

Anonymous said...

If you seriously think Harper did the right thing by distancing himself, then you are ignoring the fact that Harper and Co got up in the House of Commons and opposed any movement the Martin government made to assist Arar.

I am the first one to say the liberals did not do enough. But Harper's so-called apology is dishonest. It is also dishonest for you to say the liberals did nothing.

The job of the opposition is to hold the government accountable - to point out in the HofC when they feel the government is doing the wrong thing for the country. The conservatives got up in the HofC and said that helping Arar was the wrong thing for Canada. They tried to make it politically difficult for the Martin government to do anything. To say now that it was all the liberals doing is hypocritical, since we know that nothing would have been done at all if the conservatives had been in government.

Gayle

Jason Bo Green said...

I don't care for partisan goings-on at all, and I mistrust partisans - all of them.

But a partisan complaining about partisanship from another partisan? I don't have a lot of sympathy when Liberals OR Conservatives cry "partisan politics", because they all love partisan politics. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

In my magical dreamworld, I'd like to see all MPs independent. And we should vote directly for the PM.

Scotian said...

Bud:

Wow, and here I thought it was PM Chr├ętien that was in charge when Arar was detained by the Americans, deported to Syria, smeared by Harper, Day and Ablonski as a terrorist when the Chr├ętien Liberals tried to help Arar get out of Syria, and then returned to this country with his name under the cloud the RCMP and the Canadian Alliance smears helped to create. Then again, what do I know living here in the fact/reality based community instead of the partisan CPC delusion/fantasy land that you clearly are posting from given you complete lack of understanding of the basic timeline and who was the PM at the time.

General:

I was very disappointed with the way Harper tried to use this as a partisan attack on the Liberals, especially given the lack of any personal apology from Harper, Day or Ablonski for their willingness to assume he was a terrorist in 2002 based on the actions of the Americans, indeed praising the Americans for recognizing Arar's terrorist links when the Canadian government clearly did not. Go read Hansard QP for Nov 18 2002 for Harper and Ablonski and Nov 19 2002 for Day presuming Arar was a terrorist to score off the Liberals as weak on terrorism for trying to help this supposed terrorist named Arar.

Indeed, the current leadership of the CPC were the same ones claiming the Liberals were soft on terrorism for trying to straighten out Arar's deportation and confinement in Syria for partisan advantage then. Now they are trying to score partisan points by placing all the blame on the old Liberal government while hiding their own contributions to the "Arar is a terrorist" meme that the Americans and RCMP clearly wanted out there despite a lack of actual evidence proving any such thing. Combine that with the lack of any personal apology by Ablonski, Day and especially PM Harper for being willing to assume Arar was a terrorist without evidence to support such a serious allegation while Arar was imprisoned in Syria (which would have the effect of making it harder to get him out of there) when it was political advantageous for Harper/Day/Ablonski and then to turn around and do the exact opposite these days and not expect anyone not blinded by partisanship to recognize the massive hypocrisy and arrogant presumption being demonstrated by our never miss a chance to be partisan PM Harper is grossly insulting the intelligence of the Canadian voter. Not like that is a new thing from Canada's "New" government though...:(

Jason Hickman said...

What JBG said.

Jason Hickman said...

(Well, actually, I don't agree with Jason BG on the whole "elect-only-independents" thing, but I do agree re: the whole partisans-complaining-about-partisanship point.)

A BCer in Toronto said...

Partisanship is fine, but there's a time and a place. There's times when the government is the government, and needs to act like it. A letter by the PM apologizing on behalf of the government to a citizen that was deported and tortured is not the place to make partisan political points. It's disgusting, and classless. Period.

Ti-Guy said...

Talking to Conservatives is like talking to a brick wall.

Devin said...

Jason BG:

So you're non-partisan now?

Anonymous said...

Just curious if anyone caught liberal MP Marlene Jennings after on CBC....

sheilabee said...

Yes I did. She brought up the points that it was the Libs. who called for an inquiry and also mentioned about Harper,Day,Ablonczy and their comments in the HOC but she was not allowed to go on as the CBC interviewer more or less cut her off and said something to the effect that it appeared both sides were showing this as a partinson matter..

Dr. Dawg said...

And did everybody miss this little bit of weasel-wording?

I wish to apologize...for any role Canadian officials may have played..."

Good grief. Never mind the flabby "wish to apologize" instead of simply "apologize." The "any" and "may have" cop to absolutely nothing. Nothing whatsoever. He's not conceding any wrong-doing by Canadian officials at all.

This is a masterpiece in the genre of non-apologies. "I'm sorry you got hurt, and I'm sure sorry if somebody on our side of the fence might have, possibly, hypothetically, been responsible. And if this isn't enough of an apology, I'm sorry you feel that way. Now take your money and scoot."

This comic-opera PM just has to go.

Anonymous said...

So you all think it's just so terrible Harper made this a partisan issue, right?

Gee, funny none of you complained when the Lib's, Bloc, and NDP repeatedly demanded Harper stand up in the house and apologize to Arar. All parties knowing fully well that Harper, as PM, could not do this as long as litigation was ongoing.If Liberal's were in power, Paul Martin would have been unable to for the same reason.

Nice to see ti-guy around.He got pretty quiet after his rant on here and Red Tory site accusing me of beeing a troll for lying and stating 2 other Liberal eda's were de-listed. If i remember you called me a venomous creep, challenged me to post proof, which i did, and gee, not another peep.

burlivespipe said...

From the focus group's reaction to yesterday's apology, here is PM Harpor's schedule for the next two Friday's:
Feb. 2 - New Canadian Government's Official Apology to Seal Pups: "Although the previous government didn't move swiftly enough to ensure that the whack on the head was lethal, rest assured that the New Canadian Gov't will take all steps necessary to guarantee that sometime in the near future, all whacks will be neutral-pain inflicting..."

Feb 9 - New Canadian Government's Official Apology to Cable Subscribers: "While long ago governments may have limited your viewing pleasure, be sure we, Canada's New Government, are holding to account the previous government for denying the Canadian public their right to watch Fox News unfettered."

*this in now way is meant to belittle the pain and suffering that Maher Arar and his family has suffered. Just meant to poke a little fun at the New Government of Canada, which as we all know, would have had our soldiers dying in Iraq and no doubt let America's paranoid patriots sending all kinds of dual-citizens to an unknowing future. They have no scruples and apparently Bud doesn't care about that...

Jason Hickman said...

For all of the blow-hard'ing done about the apology, Arar himself seems happy with it, according to this story from the Globe (or at least, as happy as one could expect under the circumstances).

I would also assume that Arar (or at least, his solicitors) had something to do with the apology's wording, if it was a term of him dropping his civil suit against the government.

The people who seem to be getting the most bent out of shape about this are those Libloggers who are focusing on one portion of the apology, which remains factually accurate.

burlivespipe said...

Well, i'll agree that a lot of our sniping is just partisans complaining about partisans. Look at Jeff's comment, tho. He has it nailed rightly. That this was almost a life-and-death issue, where someone experienced incredible hardships and Harpor used it to make a sly jab at the previous gov't is just a little beyond the pale. It's creepy, in fact. He's totally oblivious to his own part in the HoC theatre, where apparently his words do not mean one darn thing. Well, if the media that helped lamb-baste (and often justifiably) Ignatieff for some of his statements, will flick through the ol' way-back machine and look at Hansard, they'll see that our new PM was happily being used as a puppet to American authorities.
Of course, they better look before Harpor appoints Germant Grewal to the Hansard archive board...

Eugene said...

"Although these events occurred under the last government, please rest assured that this government will do everything in its power to ensure.....ensure what? Let me read it again...., oh, to ensure "that the issues raised by Commissioner O’Connor are addressed"

In other words, making it clear he is not going to avoid correcting the flaws in the system just because a different government was in power.

Ironic how someone complaining about partisan politics would pull the quote out of context like that.