Sunday, October 07, 2007

Layton and NDP side with Conservatives on Coderre's Afghan trip

As I wrote last week Liberal defence critic Denis Coderre is staging his own fact-finding trip to Afghanistan after the Conservative government, playing politics, refused to extend to the defence critic of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition the privilege of an official trip. He leaves Pakistan for Afghanistan today on a UN flight.

Mr. Coderre told CTV NewsNet in an interview Saturday he's been asking for months to go, but repeated calls to the defence minister asking for permission were ignored or rejected.

So he said he decided unilaterally to go on the fact-finding trip and report back to Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion in preparation for his own future trip to the war-torn country.


“I took my responsibility. I have a duty, I have a job to do. I am the critic for... the official Opposition,” he said. It's important, I would say, to make sure that we fully participate and contribute to the debate. So I'm gonna let them play their petty politics and I'll do my job.”
There were two interesting developments on this front this week.

Firstly, while the Conservatives continually ignored Coderre’s requests through official channels for official visit, a visit the Cons have continually attacked Liberals for not taking, they sent ministers Maxime Bernier and Bed Oda over to Afghanistan this week for a visit. It would seem this is Harper’s personal war, and while government photo-ops are a-ok, factfinding visits by opposition politicians are verboten. Mustn’t mess with the government narrative, after all.
One of the cabinet ministers visiting Afghanistan to meet with that country's leadership and Canadian troops says that roadside and suicide bombings in Kabul indicate that the situation is improving in the country.

Umm, yeah. I’ve not since being surprised by Conservative hypocrisy and classlessness, so it’s hard to be to be too surprised by their willingness to play politics with the war in Afghanistan. To send Bernier and Oda just after stories about they’re blocking Coderre’s trip does display a surprising level of both arrogance and political tone deafness, however.

The second development this week was more surprising, and at the same time not. But it would seem NDP leader Jack Layton has sided with the Conservatives on this issue:
In Toronto, federal NDP Leader Jack Layton had criticism for Mr. Coderre's solo trek.

“Involving individual MPs in a sort of ‘stunt-like' visit does pose risks.... I'm not on the ground to assess that. But you have to respect the judgement of our military leadership,” Mr. Layton told CTV NewsNet.
I’m sure our military leadership would be surprised to learn Layton feels we should respect their judgment. I won’t bother expanding on the obvious hypocrisy of that statement. I know I’m surprised to hear Layton parroting Blogging Tory talking points.

And like them, he’s wrong. The blocking of Coderre was not a military decision. It was a political decision made by the Conservative defence minister and, more likely, Stephen Harper’s office. That’s who you’re providing political cover to here Jack. Are you that desperate to score points against the Liberals you're getting in bed with the Conservatives on an issue where they're obviously full of crap?

No matter how petty the Conservatives and NDP may be back in Canada, I’m certain our military leadership in Afghanistan will respect Coderre’s position and his purpose and let him see what’s happening on the ground. I look forward to his report.

UPDATE: Steve is on the same page.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers

19 comments:

Sean Cummings said...

Meh....

Kingston said...

BCer, Are you serious with this post, the Govt said he was more then welcome to go with a parliamentary delegation later in the fall, they stated that it was parliamentary procedure not to organize visit for lone MP's, a policy that was implemented by Former Defense Minister Bill Grahame. The visit by Oda and Bernier at the same time does look bad by the optics but they are on an official visit and are also holding meetings with Afgan Govt officials. This was grand standing on the part of Coderre and it does not take a degree in political science to see it my friend.

Lord of Wealth said...

But if there is an election in the fall then of course the trip will be canceled or put off yet again. This stalling and thwarting the publics right to know has been indicative of the Afgan mission since Harpo took over, this is not the first time as we all know, so claiming they can go later is a hollow promise at best.

It's funny that Layton repects the military when they thwart Liberals but does not support them when they say the mission has a purpose. What a usless turd.

Robert McClelland said...

Do you really want to go here considering the Liberals are planning to keep Harper in power by voting for the Throne Speech?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Kingston, I'm completly serious. They've been ignoring Coderre's requests for months, there is absolutely no reason they could not have accomodated him, or invited him on this trip. And as LOW said, given there's likely to be an election this fall, timing is an issue and a visit this fall unlikely. Is there an element of political grandstanding by Coderre? No doubt. But he's calling the Conservatives' grandstanding bluff. They've been badgering the Libs on this, saying how can you have a position when you haven't even gone. So he's going, like they suggested.

Robert, I've never been afraid to criticize my party when warranted, and I'm already on the record calling on the Liberals to vote No on the throne speech. That settled, do you think Layton is right to be siding with the Conservatives here?

The Right is Where its At said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kingston said...

BC, If Mr.Coderre leaves the main gates of KAF and something happens to him it will not be pretty, and the ramifications back here in the land of plenty will be enoromous. I believe that he and Mr.Dion should of hauled their collective asses over there along time ago rather then forming their talking points from the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail. Answer me why the man did not go over in Jan 07 with the rest of the defense committee with himself being the senior LPC member on the committee if he need his facts. Seriously, I have served there twice and I can tell you I will not be impressed if we have to go humping all over the country tracking down his grand standing ass because he wants to score political points. I direct you to my comment concerning that fact that Mr. Grahame put the rules in place for when and how MP's should travel over there on fact finding mission and all the CPC is doing is enforcing them. Now Mr.Coderre has said he is going to go touring around the country with an NGO org, which normally travel with no security escort or if they have one it is more then likely supplied by an org like Blackwater, (great optics there for the LPC). I hope nothing go wrong during this visit but if it does, it will not be pretty. Mr.Coderre is and will be viewed by the Taliban as a high value target because of his position and the effect that his kidnapping could have on domestic politics back home. Tell me again how this is a responsible manner in which a senior LPC critic should be acting.

Frank said...

BCer: What will the Liberals do if this guy is captured by insurgents?

Hire mercenaries?

Fat chance. It will be the men and women of the Forces in Kandahar who will have to try and save him. They will be putting their lives on the line.

Coderre is the one who is being petty here. He's putting his life and the lives of others in jeopardy for a stunt.

The Right is Where its At said...

ABC this is only trying to get the lime light thats all.Mr.Coderre has been known to do this.Just remember Shane Doan.

Mr. Coderre is acting irresponsible. In your opinion what should the government do if HEAVENS FORBID he should be kidnapped? Should our armed forces
be put in further danger and get away from the mission on hand and try to find him ?

Remember he was one of the liberal mps that voted against the extention of the mission,because he said there was not enough information about it.

So this tells me that he votes on things that he doesn't even know what he is voting for.

He is supposedly going to Afghanistan for a fact finding mission to see how things are going there "fine"!!

Then answer me this why is he telling the government to pull our troops from the southern part of the country even before he knows what is really going on in the country? Remember he is
going there on a fact finding mission.

Has much as I disagree
with Jack Layton on just about everything on politics,i agree with him on this.

burlivespipe said...

Typical CON hypocrites. Funny now they are 100 per cent behind a Liberal decision, but of course that would be one they wouldn't want to waiver on, knowing that it could interfere with their 'Star! Exclusive photo ops with the soldiers!'
Can you tell me how many parliamentary delegations were permitted to travel to Afghanistan during the Martin minority govt and since Harper took over? Do you know that the PMO office still retains right of refusal on all clearances -- ie governor general?
C'mon, Oda and Bernier were there to get more khaki shots for the CON election pamphlets, and to spin some better headlines for the small-town local media in their ridings.
What would happen if they were kidnapped? Likely Harper would just wax poetically about their contribution to the New Canadian Gov't and then file their belongings beside Michael Chong's...
While it matter not whether there is an election coming this fall and the timing of Coderre's visit, Layton remains permanently working the point on the CONs second checking line.
Once a bench player, always a bench player. Nice to see he got the talking points' memo.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Kingston,
If Mr.Coderre leaves the main gates of KAF and something happens to him it will not be pretty, and the ramifications back here in the land of plenty will be enoromous.

I don't doubt it. Afghanistan is a dangerous place, despite what Bernier and Oda are saying in their own current publicity stunt visit. If something happens to them, I'm sure the consequences would be enormous too and something could happen, even though the government has decided to protect them. While he's not traveling under government protection, I understand Coderre is traveling with an NGO, so he's taking the same risks any NGO take in the region. BTW, Cheryl Gallant went over a few years ago with an NGO, and she's a Conservative MP. What is something had happened to her? I don't recall the fury from the Conservatives then.

I believe that he and Mr.Dion should of hauled their collective asses over there along time ago rather then forming their talking points from the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail.

Oh give me a break, seriously. I'll ignore the silliness of the second hand of that and focus on the first. If you've ready any of the coverage, you'll see Coderre HAS BEEN TRYING for a very long time. He was BLOCKED BY THE CONSERVATIVES every step of the way. They wanted to keep being able to attack him for not going, while at the same time preventing him from going. Only Conservative publicity stunts are allowed, you see.

I direct you to my comment concerning that fact that Mr. Grahame put the rules in place for when and how MP's should travel over there on fact finding mission and all the CPC is doing is enforcing them.

If that was the Liberal policy that it's a bad policy. Nevertheless, the Conservatives are in government now, and if I had a dollar for every other Liberal policy they've reversed I'd be a rich man. So that's a weak excuse. Particularly when the Conservatives attack the Liberals for not going while at the same time blocking them from going. Classy, that.

Tell me again how this is a responsible manner in which a senior LPC critic should be acting.

Are the NGOs irresponsible too? Tell me again how this is a responsible manner for the Government of Canada to be acting in?

The Right,
ABC this is only trying to get the lime light thats all.Mr.Coderre has been known to do this.Just remember Shane Doan.

Believe me, I'm not just defending Coderre here because he's a Liberal. I don't like Coderre. Search through my archives and you'll see I've called for him to be fired as defence critic at least twice. But, in this case, I think he's absolutely in the right. He tried to go through channels and the Conservatives blocked him. Mocking Con pundits said he should just go on how own. So he is.

I have no doubt that all the braying from the Cons over his going would, if he didn't go, be flipped to a narrative of “why didn't he just go on his own, what is he scarred, he doesn't need the government's help, just buy a plane ticket, Liberal whimps...” I have no doubt of that at all.

So this tells me that he votes on things that he doesn't even know what he is voting for.
See, there you guys go again. You attack him for not having gone in the same post you attack him for going! I think I see the game plan here. You can only talk about Afghanistan if you've been there. Conservatives won't let Liberals go. Therefore, Liberals can't talk about Afghanistan. Handy, that.

Kingston said...

BC, From the mans own mouth, I have been trying to go for the last few months, hmmm few to me is three or four, that brings us back to June. he has been the defense critic for how long. Hell I suggested to Jason on his blog that Mr.Dion should go last Feb but nothing happened. Why did Mr.Coderre not go in Jan with the rest of the Defense committee. I hold true to my statement of the LPC reacting to second hand information from the MSM. You have too have served there to see that. The journalists on the ground are always eager for a trip to the FOB but the PRT has to beg them to go on a reconstruction visit. And I know what I am talking about, I worked in the same compound, smoked and joked with them on a daily basis at Canuck Cafe.
As to the procedure put into place by Mr.Grahame I personally think it is an excellent policy to keep politician from making tourist visits over to KAF, they should come in groups, they cause a major disruption to the COC as they all have to be escorted around, meet the troops, photo ops, it is better when they come like the Defense committee did in a group, as did the senators. Cuts down on the headaches for the COC and lets them concentrate on their jobs.
The NGO's are doing valuable work but they are no where near as high value of a target as the LPC Defense Critic, and I remind you that Ms.Gallant went to Kabul not to Kandahar, two totally situation in the security scene. Will leave a post about the RM show on the other thread

A BCer in Toronto said...

Kingston,
Why did Mr.Coderre not go in Jan with the rest of the Defense committee.

I don't know why, you'd have to ask him. Carolyn Bennett went for the Liberals. Why couldn't he have gone on the most recent visit? It does fall within the period we both agree he has been asking (and Harper as been ignoring).

I hold true to my statement of the LPC reacting to second hand information from the MSM. You have too have served there to see that.

As much as I respect the work our troops are doing, you're wrong. That's now how our political system works. You seem to think you aren't allowed to have a view on the war if you haven't been there. That doesn't hold true in a democracy. We're all entitled to a view as citizens. And particularly as a Member of Parliament. Come to think of it, did Harper go as opposition leader before he commented on the war for the first time? Doesn't matter. While I agree Coderre should go, and should have gone sooner, to say that you can't comment until you've gone is to turn our democratic system of government on its head.

Anyway, if the Cons are so upset about him going on his own maybe they could have just returned one of his phone calls over four months. Instead, they just ignored his requests to they coould attack him, like you, for commenting without having gone, all the while arranging photo-op visits for backbench Conservative MPs to get photos for their re-election brochures. Instead, they put him in a situation where he's dammed if he does and he's dammed if he doesn't. Better, I think, to be dammed for doing than for not doing.

Kingston said...

As much as I respect the work our troops are doing, you're wrong. That's now how our political system works. You seem to think you aren't allowed to have a view on the war if you haven't been there.

BC Please do not mis-understand my point, I welcome all comments about the war, both positive and negative, informed and uninformed actually. My comment was directed to the fact that it seems that the LPC were constantly reacting to stories from the MSM vice doing their on investigating. We both know that the MSM on both sides of the spectrum slant stories to get the best effect for what ever point they are trying to get across, I believe the days of just reporting the news and letting us pinions figure it out and reach our own conclusions are long gone, but to finish my statement, the MP's are entitled thru the Defense Committee which Mr.Coderre sits are entitled to call members of DND for briefing. Mr.Dion sits as a member of the Privy Council so he gets briefings, they both know what is going on. I mentioned earlier that the optics of them not taking Coderre with them are not good, but it really makes me wonder if there is something I am missing in that story. Then again, how would you like to travel with Mr. Coderre for a week. LOL

Tania said...

Wow. Coderre sure is pissing off the righters on this given the amount of comments condemning his decision to go without "government approval".

I'm glad he's gone over there. I'm glad he's bringing back a different opinion rather than all the stories of "success".

I'm glad that it's upsetting so many people. Why would they care if he's in danger if there is nothing but success happening?

Give me a break. People really need to open their eyes. Informed opinions only matter if they're seen through unbias eyes.

Kingston said...

"Informed opinions only matter if they're seen through unbias eyes"

It would seems that Mr.Coderre himself is not helping the cause Tania. To paraphrase from media reports "It does not matter what I see, the liberal position will remains the same, the why go at all.

Demosthenes said...

I'm very surprised that the utility of this is even being questioned. Coderre was wise and canny in doing this. He will be able to speak first-hand of the situation on the ground, will be able to do it without being taken on "the official tour", will have all the photo-ops he needs for campaign materials, and will be able to bludgeon Harper with the "he wouldn't let me and I went anyway" club for ages.

Kingston, you're being obtuse. Sorry, but you are. Harper was transparently blocking a member of the defense committee from being able to visit a country where troops are engaged. He does not have that right, and should not have that power, and if the Liberals set up some sort of rule that prevented him, then it is Harper's mistake for not rescinding that rule. Any U.S. Congressman faced with this would be screaming bloody murder, and rightly so. Why not Coderre?

Besides, you're missing the point. (As well as any minimal sense of paragraph design). If Coderre needs to go there before the election, one that will partially revolve around this mission, then it is in the interests of democracy that he do so. Elections and foreign policy are both important enough that this sort of hamfisted stage-managing should not be tolerated. Yes, Harper is an autocrat matched only by Vladimir Putin. Even so, this is beyond the pale.

Oh, and paraphrases only count if you name your sources. What you pulled in that last post was more properly described as "pulling words out of somewhere dark and smelly". Nice try, but no.

Mark Dowling said...

This is a multi-billion dollar commitment taxpayers are making and a major arm of our foreign policy. ANY MP of ANY party should be able to request a visit to KAF and for that request to be speedily accommodated to a similar timetable as that accorded to ministers.

You wouldn't even find Bush giving the finger to Democratic members of the Senate Armed Services Committee the way the Tories are to the Opposition.

You'd think Jack would champing at the bit to get over to Afstan and see the people he wants to negotiate with.

Kingston said...

First, Sorry about the paragraph struture, Did not mean to offend you, but I really do not sit here and wait to post so they are done in a hurry on occasion.

Whether he should change the rule or not in really not the question right now is it, the rule as it presently states was set up to avoid single MP's visiting and I have all ready given reasons why it is a good rule, so personally I do not want to see it changed. It is not a new rule but has been in effect for five years. The reason as I understand that MP committees are not going over for a visit now is they no longer exist until after the throne speech and they are re-formed. You can call this obtuse if you wish, I call it a statement of fact.

I have already stated the the optics of him not going with the two ministers are bad. The fact of the matter is the member had a previous opportunity to go and did not(Jan 07).

As I responded to Tania already it would seem the Mr.Coderre is not helping your cause by his comments concerning that the decision is already made concerning the LPC intentions so I must therefore ask why the hell he went.

As to your statement concerning my paraphrasing of this statement,
Oh, and paraphrases only count if you name your sources. "What you pulled in that last post was more properly described as "pulling words out of somewhere dark and smelly". Nice try, but no."

I am sorry for assuming that a person with your elegant grammar and perfectly structured paragraphs would be more then capable of also reading the MSM online and would have no problem discovering the same articles that I paraphrased seeming as they were headlines, but it would seem that I was wrong.

Please find the attached link. Have a pleasant day Mon Ami

http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/world/story.html?id=5099503e-bf8d-4e19-9cba-e055c057ffc0