Harper shows he will stoop to any level for political gain


In keeping with his blatant disregard for democratic process (for example, the two-time proroguing of Parliament since October 2008), Prime Minister Stephen Harper has extended the Canadian force’s mission in Afghanistan beyond the legally mandated 2011 exit date without the permission of Parliament.

I don’t even know why I’m surprised anymore.

Initially, when the prime minister announced the extension of the mission, he did so with providing such little detail that the opposition demanded he further his statements — although he has waited until Nov. 15, while he is in South Korea for the G20, to do so.

Putting aside the issue of Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan, I have a bone to pick with Harper and Harper alone.

Firstly, Harper buried the announcement of the extension of the mission on Remembrance Day. This is an occasion for commemorating soldiers’ lives lost and a day most individuals use to pause and take pride in the sacrifices of our military.

The fact he would use this day as political cover is not only tasteless but an insult to those who have served. Harper used the public’s emotional attachment of the day to tug at the heartstrings of the population — an act unbefitting of a leader.

Conservatives claim to strongly oppose the politicization of Remembrance Day with, among other things, the white poppy.

In an act of complete hypocrisy, Harper turned around and made an extremely political announcement. It’s just another way the Conservative Party continues their trend of hiding behind the men and women of the military to further their politics — it’s downright shameful.

Announcing the prolonging of the mission on this day also buried the decision in the media. This stifled at least some of the criticism the government would have been subjected to had the statement been made on any other day. The same can be said of the Liberal Party — they now face less criticism over agreeing to extend the mission behind closed doors. Both parties are guilty of working to avoid a democratic debate on the issue.

Harper’s tactics are nothing more than smoke-and-mirrors to pull the wool over the eyes of the Canadian public.

Probably most shocking was Harper’s insistence that he need not bring the decision to prolong the mission to Parliament, despite the exit date being fixed to July 2011.

In claiming that the executive can decide technical and training missions, Harper has taken it upon himself to decide the future of our military. Parliament set the date for a withdrawal, thus there is no reasonable explanation for why this decision can be revoked by the cabinet alone.
It is yet another decision made by a Conservative minority government that acts like they have a majority in the House of Commons.

Harper said he has come under pressure by NATO allies to keep Canadian military personnel in the field in Afghanistan, but this is no excuse for the insensitive mishandling of the announcement, nor does it excuse how he is opted to make this decision in a cloud of secrecy.

The point I am trying to convey is not whether or not it is right for the Afghanistan mission to be extended or in what capacity the Canadian military should be planning their exit strategy. It is that the Harper government has foregone any type of democratic process and opted to make deals behind closed-doors while using our veterans for political cover.

This is all part of a continued pattern of governance of a man who will stoop at any level to win, even if it means burning down our national institutions in the process.

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