Sunday, September 21, 2008

Peter MacKay

From an editorial in Embassy magazine:

Picking and Choosing from the Afghan Motion

... Mr. MacKay was on television, defending the prime minister's pledge and refuting allegations Canada was indeed "cutting and running" from the war-torn country...

[T]hen came the shocker.

Mr. MacKay said the end of the military mission did not constitute the end of Canada's work in Afghanistan—wait for it—but that the mission would change. Specifically, Canada will "emphasize the humanitarian aspect, continue with training, continue with our people there that are both with the domestic police and maybe on the military side to build...capacity.

"We have combat engineers that are there helping with the Dahla Dam," the defence minister continued. "We have people building roads and supervising some of the training exercises that go on, but the emphasis will change, and that's consistent with the parliamentary resolution."

So let us get this straight: Canadian soldiers will remain in Kandahar until 2011, at which point the majority of them will leave, but Canada will shift the emphasis to humanitarian efforts, training of Afghan security forces and development?

Isn't that supposed to happen starting in 2009?

That, after all, is what the parliamentary resolution actually states. (link)
Also in Embassy, Scott Taylor tells a couple of interesting tales about MacKay:
Our Troops and Peter MacKay's True Colours

... Defence Minister Peter MacKay took aim at Halifax West NDP candidate Tamara Lorincz, going so far as to suggest that NDP Leader Jack Layton "should pull that woman's nomination papers."

What set Mr. MacKay ablaze was an incident that occurred the previous Friday outside the DEFSEC trade show at Halifax's Cunard Center. In addition to being the current NDP candidate of record, Lorincz is also a founding member of the Halifax Peace Coalition. This organization staged a small vigil to protest the U.S. defence companies that were exhibiting at DEFSEC.

According to published accounts and confirmed by Lorincz herself, when a carload of senior brass drove by, Lorincz shouted, "This is a racket and it should be shut down. We need a peace economy, not a military economy."

Peter MacKay was not present at this encounter, but when he read those words in the newspaper the following day, he told reporters that he "felt physically ill" and that it was "one of the most disgusting things [he's] heard in a long time." ...

In September 2006, during a visit to Ottawa by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a large Support-the-Troops rally was held on Parliament Hill. The vast majority of the 8,000 demonstrators were conservatives who wildly cheered the speech by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. At the back of the crowd, Trevor Haché, the president of the NDP Ottawa-Vanier riding association, stood alone and quietly raised a placard that read: "Support the troops, bring them home."

Several red-shirt-wearing zealots were angered by this message and proceeded to rip Mr. Haché's sign in half and then bodily threw him to the ground. Police quickly intervened to rescue the NDP representative from further assault...

Close followers of Peter MacKay's political career will recall that, when Canadian soldiers were under fire from U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, our defence minister did not speak up to defend their reputation...

As Canada was in the process of begging the Americans for used Chinook helicopters, Mr. MacKay didn't feel Canada was in a position to rebuff the U.S. secretary of defence.

That is, of course, nonsense, and Mr. Gates of all people would have understood an angry backlash over his offending comments (in fact, he issued a subsequent clarification/retraction).

What this latest incident over Ms. Lorincz's outburst has shown us is that Mr. MacKay is certainly capable of speaking up for the troops—even if they're not under attack—provided his opponent is small enough. (link)

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