Monday, July 16, 2007

A Gordon O'Connor sighting

I was just about ready to release the hounds in the hunt for Gordon O’Connor, rumored to be Canada’s minister of national defence, but he has turned up.

It seemed like he had gone to ground after General Rick Hillier decided to brush aside disclosure laws and the public’s right to know by refusing to release any information on Afghan detainees captured by Canadian soldiers, deeming even the number to be a national security issue.

The office of General Rick Hillier, Canada's top soldier, has halted the release of any documents relating to detainees captured in Afghanistan under the federal Access to Information Act, claiming that disclosure of any such information could endanger Canadian troops.

Noticeably absent from the news of the ridiculous decision, that seemed to have a lot more to do with saving Decievin’ Steven political embarrassment then national security, was any comment at all from Hillier’s boss, Minister O’Connor. A follow-up story the next day also had no comment from O’Connor’s office.

A spokesman for Mr. O'Connor had no immediate comment on the controversy.

But while his days in the job may be numbered, it appears O’Connor is still around. He was in my old stomping grounds in B.C. last week, politicking on an air force base (CFB Comox) and using the military as a backdrop for taking partisan shots at the Liberals (the riding went NDP in 2006 and the Cons want it back):

The federal government will spend $121 million on new construction -- including new living quarters and health-care facilities -- at 19 Wing Comox over the next 10 years.

Minister of National Defence Gordon O'Connor made the announcement at the base yesterday, saying the new spending would make up for the previous government's "years of neglect."

"I am here to demonstrate, once again, this government's support for our military -- and specifically for the brave men and women of our air force," O'Connor told a group of 19 Wing officers. "The future of this base is secure into the future as long as you can imagine."

I’m glad for the funding (wonder how much of it is old money and how much is new?) but the years of neglect line is simply a lie. Having lived down the road from CFB Comox for years, construction and investment on the base has been steady and consistent over the years. There is still work to be done for sure, but neglect is inaccurate. And the base’s future has always been secure; it’s the search and rescue hub for the West Coast. It’s not going anywhere.

Unfortunately, it seems none of the local media present at the O’Connor campaign stop asked the minister if he agreed with Hillier’s decision to withhold information on Afghan detainees, or how in the heck the number of detainees captured could possible be a national security concern.

Will Gordon be able to avoid the national media, and embarrassing questions, until Harper fires him later this summer? Time will tell.

In other news, Hillier says he’s not a politician. I guess he just plays one on TV.

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