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Harper government Spin Machine at Work in Afghanistan

Edited by John Stokes

  Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper.

OTTAWA - Just as the Liberals predicted on Sunday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper popped up in Afghanistan in an attempt to control the damage his government has sustained from its incompetent handling of the Afghan detainee issue.

"The problem is that no one is buying the Prime Minister's sudden interest in the humanitarian side of this mission. Giving out pencil cases to Afghan children makes for great optics, but Canadians know that he is simply using the mission as a political prop to try and divert attention away from his government's disastrous last five weeks, including its inept handling of the detainee file," said Liberal Defence Critic Denis Coderre.

On CTV's Question Period on Sunday, 20 May 2007, Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale noted that there is a pattern of Conservative message management - when the going gets tough, the Prime Minister holds a photo-op to change the subject.

"I think during this parliamentary break week you'll see the Prime Minister trying to reassert his control... so I think you'll see him probably turn up in Afghanistan for a photo opportunity," Mr. Goodale said during the Sunday morning panel discussion.

"This attempt to change the channel is not fooling anyone. The fact remains that this government has completely changed the scope of this mission," said Mr. Coderre.

"We now know that they spent nearly $1.2 billion to purchase 100 new tanks - more than the total funding committed to the reconstruction effort. Total spending by this government on the military aspects of this mission has been nearly 10 times greater than on the humanitarian side. Canadians are not pleased with the direction this government is taking the mission."

Mr. Coderre said the Liberal Opposition continues to support the mission and the courageous Canadian Forces personnel that are in the region, but remains committed to holding the Conservative government to account on its handling of the mission.

"Canadians want a clear exit strategy for our combat mission in Kandahar. No amount of Conservative spin is going to change that. And the Prime Minister's diversionary tactics will not make up for his incompetent Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs who have bungled the detainee matter from day one," said Mr. Coderre.

"It's time Mr. Harper respected the wishes of Parliament and of Canadians and worked towards concluding our combat mission on schedule in 2009, allowing for the necessary resources to be dedicated to diplomacy and development," he concluded.

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