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Trying to change the channel.

There has been some discussion lately on what Stephane Dion said or didn’t say about what we should be doing with regards to Pakistan in the fight against terrorism. The interpretation of this has been jumped on by the Conservatives and their Blogging Tory supporters, led of course by their leader, Stephen Taylor, which has caused some bloggers on the Liberal/Progressive side to go after Taylor, as well as wasting time trying to defend Dion for what he said or didn’t say.

As I argued at the one site, this is actually nothing more then the Conservative government’s attempts to change the channel on both Helena Guergis’s breach of security in revealing Dion and Ignatieff’s visit to Afghanistan (and jeopardizing the very same Canadian officials and soldiers she and her government claim to have a monopoly on supporting), as well as the dead of night firing of Linda Keen by Gary Lunn; not to mention trying to now explain away why our Foreign Ministry has deemed the US to be using torture, which was reported on Keith Olberman’s show on MSNBC last night; (h/t to Impolitical) and now our Canadian government is lamely trying to step away from that report.

Stephen of course is a willing messenger in trying to help do that, which shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, so I wouldn’t be wasting too much blogspace on it or raging on him and the BT minions, nor would I waste too much time on it in the media if I were the Liberals. This is a minor issue that the Conservatives and their advocates will attempt to use as a red-herring to distract from an extremely bad week for them. When the Toronto Sun is doing an investigation and discovering that Gary Lunn is using a consultant to prep him for his Committee hearings, and the National Post is ripping the Cons for their handling of the nuclear regulator in general and Linda Keen in particular, and when Chantal Hebert is reporting that government officials are coming to the Press Gallery to ask reporters for advice on how to keep the Conservative ship afloat, you know things aren’t going well.

So, we need to keep our focus on the real issues, and not allow the Cons. off the hook on these and allow them to distract everyone with what is essentially a non-issue.


9 comments to Trying to change the channel.

  • catherine

    The CPC website states: <i>Given that NATO has always been, and remains, a military alliance, the only kind of NATO intervention Mr. Dion could be advocating would involve using military forces across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.  In other words – a kind of invasion.</i>

    whereas The Alliance’s Strategic Concept, which defines the roles and tasks of NATO , shows that this is false.  NATO has both a political and military role and the former is explicitly discussed in a number of places within this document. 

    I am used to the CPC spreading misinformation of the type ‘Dion will raise taxes’, ‘Dion will invade Pakistan’, but to have them spread misinformation about NATO seems a bit much.  If one reads NATO’s defining document, it appears that NATO would not be adequately performing its duties, as defined, if it were not also involved in diplomatic efforts in conjuction with its military role in Afghanistan. 

    Do Harper and other conservatives really believe that NATO does not need to find more effective ways to control the Pakistan and Afghanistan border?  The statements coming from them would suggest that this is the case.

  • You nailed it. It’s amazing how the CONs are able to stretch and play their misconstruations to the media – the CbC even ran a clip where it posted Bah-bah-Bernier’s comments to Pakistan. Perhaps he could also apologize for the other 44 experts (not a real number) who also believe that without some concerted effort at the Afghan-Pakistan border, this battle will only see more casualties and a longer commitment.
    The CONs are covered in radioactive dust, they’ve had their Monty Burns’ appointment even look judicious ALMOST with how they’ve mishandled the whole ‘can Keen’ affair. It’s almost like they wanted to set up a situation where privatizing AECL was a clear decision, while also turning over the job of maintaining nuclear safety in Canada to the private companies, because they know what’s best. OK, that is what they are doing…

  • Tomm

    Dion’s comment was very clumsy and will ring in the ears of Canadian’s far longer than M. Dion wishes it to.

    A person really has to stretch to get out of his comments what he and Coderre are indicating were his intentions.

    If Dion thinks that a NATO "intervention" is diplomatic, he needs to go back to Diplomacy 101 before getting the corner office.

  • The Fwanksta

    That’s for that post. We really need to keep our eyes on the ball to win this one.

  • Fotis

    I’m not sure exactly how Dion phrased his comment… It’s unfortunate that his English can be clumsy…. but a number of things have always been apparent.

    Pakistan has always been a significant problem in the ISAF plans for which they have had no suitable response. This is not new. This is actually well accepted. Northern Pakistan is fundementally a  blackhole. Very little government authority gets exercised in North. Pakistan is also not likley to do anything…. Pakistan has lost 500 – 700 soldiers since 2004 trying to control the area and basically failed.
    Policitcally this is not a prioririty for the leaders of Pakistan as there is too much tension much closer to home, regardless of thier political posturing.

    It’s actually kind of funny that no one seems to have linked Dion’s comments about the problems in Pakistan with the following Newsreport that happened at the same time….

    Enemies seaking to destablise the current situation in Afghanistan exist in very large numbers and have safe haeven in Pakistan. The boarder with Afghanistan (which in many cases does not even exist) is very porous. Solving the issue of Pakistan is of fundemental importancce to both the situation in Afghanistan and the disposition of Canadian troops.

  • Actually, I agree with Catherine.  In any event Gordon O’Connor made a similar proposal in 2006 (had to back-peddle).

  • rabbit

    I forgot to use the italic button again. God I’m useless.

  • rabbit

    <em>this is actually nothing more then the Conservative government’s attempts to change the channel</em>

    The leader of the official opposition (and possibly the next prime minister) saying that a NATO "intervention" may be necessary in a country with nuclear weapons and 161 million people strikes me as fully newsworthy in its own self.

    So does the Globe and Mail, National Post, and that conservative mouthpiece The Toronto Star.

  • catherine

    Actually, Dion’s comments bring some attention to the problem of Pakistan right at the time the Taliban is gaining control of some key spots in Pakistan near the Afghanistan border.  The Liberal platform would have Canada continue in Afghanistan in a non-combat role and for this to make sense there does have to be some realistic NATO plan to deal with insurgents coming from Pakistan.  For Conservatives who would have us continue our combat mission indefinitely, this should be of great concern too.  Once they get beyond making hay of Dion’s initial comment and what it might or might not have meant, perhaps some will be ready to discuss the real issues.

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