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Partisan Cheapshots and Memory Loss

Today, Prime minister Harper formally apologized to Maher Ahar for him being “renditioned” to Syria via the US on false information supplied by Canada and offered him a very generous cash settlement. Bravo.

However, Harper couldn’t resist getting in a partisan cheapshot during his little announcement:

Although these events occurred under the last government, please rest assured that this government will do everything in its power to ensure…

Ok.. and what were the Conservatives/Alliance folks doing during this time frame? Were they chastising the government for wrongly sending information to cause an innocent citizen such grief? No, they were wondering why we were bad-mouthing the US, and they were implicating Arar for being guilty without even waiting for the facts. First, on November 18, 2002:

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the government’s right hand does not know what its left hand is doing when it comes to national security. The foreign affairs minister said for two months that the United States had offered no justification or information for the deportation of Maher Arar. Yet we now know that the RCMP knew of Arar’s activities. They questioned him nearly a year ago and they were notified weeks ago by the FBI of its information. My question is, when did the minister know of the RCMP’s holding of information on this matter?

Harper went further. He “….accused then Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham of participating ‘in high-level consultations to defend a suspected terrorist’ when Mr. Graham demanded the release of Mr. Arar. Mr. Harper was later quoted as saying that the Liberal government “has been hitting the snooze button on security matters,” implying that the Liberal government should have arrested Mr. Arar instead of the U.S. government.”

That same day, from Diane Ablonczy:

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is time the Liberals told the truth: that their system of screening and security checks is pathetic. Arar was given dual Syrian and Canadian citizenship by the government. It did not pick up on his terrorist links and the U.S. had to clue it in. How is it that the U.S. could uncover this man’s background so quickly when the government’s screening system failed to find his al-Qaeda links?

Maybe because he had no Al-Queada links Diane?

Public Security Minister Stockwell Day, who I have been giving credit to this week for standing up to the US and not backing down from supporting Ahar, nevertheless wasn’t any better back then this his colleagues. Here he is on the following day in Question period, on Nov 19, 2002:

Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister gave an evasive answer concerning Maher Arar and his possible terrorist ties. As members know, a few months ago, the Minister of Foreign Affairs proudly announced that there was no reason to deport Mr. Arar. Now we know that the RCMP had received warnings about Mr. Arar weeks, perhaps months ago.
When did the Minister of Foreign Affairs receive these warnings?

Further to that he also said “…in reference to the detention of Mr. Arar: “There is a lack of vigilance in the country on terrorism.” He also called for a Parliamentary inquiry to determine why the Liberals were defending a man suspected of links to al-Qaeda when U.S. officials were accusing him of terrorism charges.

As Amnesty International said in Dec 2006, while the Liberals may have been slow to react to Aher’s plight, “Conservatives who then represented the Canadian Alliance were quick to accept U.S. actions at face value..

So… for Mr. Harper to go and read his statement as if the prior government was all at fault and his government was addressing nobly a wrong that needed to be corrected is pretty rich (no pun intended) to say the least. Some analysts have said that Harper has shown himself to be the most partisan Prime Minister in recent memory, and this little stunt doesnt help change that impression.

UPDATE: I’m not the only one who’s a bit ticked at Harper’s crass partisanship.

6 comments to Partisan Cheapshots and Memory Loss

  • kursk

    *yawn* wake me up when the left will ever like something PMSH does..for over 12 million dollars,i would not have cared if the govt apology was two words long or ten, and really the only person who should care (and really likes the apology btw..) is mr.Arar.Isn’t that what counts?

  • Tomm


    Go back to throwing darts at your Harper doll. That “partisan” comment was almost invisible.

    What was outstanding from today was that CBC contained almost no coverage of Harper’s comments so they could focus on Julian Falconer. That is outrageous, but pretty much standard fair from the People’s Network.

    The 3 guys from Ming’s Bite got twice the air time the PM did.


  • Its like a sickness they have – blame the Liberals for everything they did wrong, but don’t look at what we did or did not do to contribute to the whole thing at the same time. They did it with the environment and now with Arar.

    Funny how they want people to look so closely at the Liberal’s past but want people to forget their own.

    And that bit of partisanship was cheap and has no place in what happened today. Shame on you Stephen Harper.

  • […] I thought apologies were suppose to express remorse – Canada’s Debate To me this is beyond the pale. Ignoring the fact that Mr. Harper was the official opposition and spoke vociferously in casting suspicion on the same Mr. Arar; that he would use an official apology to score cheap political points speaks more about the state of affairs here in Canada than cheap legislation ever could. […]

  • […] To me this is beyond the pale. Ignoring the fact that Mr. Harper was the official opposition and spoke vociferously in casting suspicion on the same Mr. Arar; that he would use an official apology to score cheap political points speaks more about the state of affairs here in Canada than cheap legislation ever could. Lets consider a similar apology: As a people, Canadians commit themselves to the creation of a society that ensures equality and justice for all, regardless of race or ethnic origin. […]

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