Standing up for the troops
Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn't answer reporters questions at all in Ottawa anymore, basically. Yes, I know, boo hoo, so sad for us -- all we do is whine about it.
But I would like to draw people's attention to the way we're hearing of a possible extension in Canada's commitment to Afghanistan. It first emerged in news reports from "senior government sources" over the weekend -- here in the Star and elsewhere, for instance.
Had this been a week that the House was sitting, the Prime Minister might have been called upon to speak on this issue in the Commons. He does still speak there, unscripted, from time to time. Instead, Harper appeared at an anti-Semitism conference taking place on Parliament Hill, made some brief remarks, and vanished, leaving it to his spokesperson, Dimitri Soudas, to explain the matter on television and elsewhere.
Soudas, unless I've missed the news of a coup or something, doesn't make decisions about Canada's military commitments. Not too long ago, I recall hearing that he was too junior to be called to a Commons committee -- that this government believed in the notion of ministerial accountability and staff would not forced to explain their bosses' actions.
So I ask, seriously, on this most important of issues -- putting Canadian troops in harm's way, even if it's just a training mission in Afghanistan -- why the heck are we putting up with Harper's silence on this today? It took a certain amount of chutzpah this morning to surface in public and not speak about it. And I guess it takes a certain amount of whining to point it out. Never mind reporters, though. Citizens, and Canada's troops, deserve better. You might consider telling him yourself.