Monday, December 07, 2009


One suspects that Peter MacKay's life is about to get unpleasant. And sad.

Definitely sad.


sooey said...

It's good to know Canadian soldiers recognize our responsibility to respect the Geneva Convention, at least.

"tomsm" - omigawd, eh?

thwap said...

I note that Peter MacKay's latest line is that he made those claims under the advice of DFAIT and CF advisors.

Sorry Petey, YOU were the guy strutting around as the VERY IMPORTANT MINISTER, ... don't try to weasel out of this by blaming your subordinates.

Adam said...

So it's not "I was just following orders", but "I was just following the advice of those I am paid to supervise"? If MacKay is forced out, apparently he might be unfit to serve as even a babysitter....

wv: impuri - the secret cabal behind the Cons party?

Dr.Dawg said...

See why Paul Koring is my favourite reporter?

Parliament Shill said...

"I note that Peter MacKay's latest line is that he made those claims under the advice of DFAIT and CF advisors."

Once upon a time, there used to be a concept known as "ministerial responsibility." Under that principle, which in theory our parliamentary government must still have, McKay must accept public responsibility for what happens in his office. Either because he is personally implicated, or because he was negligent.

This latest disclosure was inevitable and only confirms what most Canadians now already believe. Frankly, I am astonished by the government's ineptitude in taking the position they did, since they must have known we'd find out some of the truth eventually.

But I guess that's the first instinct of most white-collar criminals when they get caught red-handed.

CC said...

As I recall, ministerial responsibility was what delivered such a resounding boot to the nads of one Maxime Bernier. Let's see if Peter MacKay gets special treatment.

The Seer said...

As an old soldier, I feel it is my dooty to bring to the attention of the readers of this blog some of the lessons I learned at war.

1. Unlike the readers of this blog, your smarty-pants types are not well-regarded in the military.

2. Following orders may be enough to protect you from getting court martialed but doing the absolute minimum is not going to provide you with a satisfying military career.

3. While there is a limited class of overlings in the military who will tell you explicitly what they want, and commit the same to writing when there are hazards in the execution, your typical overling expects underlings to be able to read between the lines.

4. There are eight sacraments in the military, the eighth being paper. To explain this concept I refer you to the example from physics class of the tree that falls in the forest. In the military, things are heard on paper. If the overling has a piece of paper that says something exists, the underling is not going to identify himself as unreliable by disclosing he can’t find it. OTOH, just because you tripped over something does not mean it exists. To prove the fall was not the product of your own clumsiness, you must produce paper.

This rule causes consternation in the US Air Force, where ordinance is unduly expensive. An American pilot must account for each round. It is almost always cheaper for the pilot to disclose the misadventurous delivery of a round than to buy the round. OTOH, ordinance in the infantry is so cheap and plentiful, nobody bothers to keep an account of each round expended. As applied in practice, this insight explains the death of the glorious American pro football player at the hands of hostile fire. There was a report of incoming fire at the time the heroic football player lost his life; there was no report of outgoing fire. As ought to be obvious to anyone, there was no friendly fire available to explain this tragic loss.

If you think this discourse on the nature and importance of military paper is overwrought, the only thing I can say to you is that I know you have never served.

5. I guarantee you that nobody in DFAIT or CF carried tales about “torture” to the minister on paper.

So quit your bitichin’ about the minister.

Mark Francis said...

"As I recall, ministerial responsibility was what delivered such a resounding boot to the nads of one Maxime Bernier. Let's see if Peter MacKay gets special treatment."

*sigh* no beautiful women involved this time.

Ti-Guy said...

I guarantee you that nobody in DFAIT or CF carried tales about “torture” to the minister on paper.

And we should care...why?

Even if this is true, life isn't fair and if little Petey Mackay didn't know that before, too bad. But as someone who single-handedly destroyed Canada's Tories, he mostly likely did.

Sorry if that's too charmless for you, but I've had enough of this ongoing torture horror story and anyone who tries to "explain" it to me like I need to be told the facts of life. In fact, I was much happier before the web enabled such widespread transparency and openness on this issue. I had no idea there were so many people (like 'conservatives' and Americans) who seem rather indifferent to the whole thing.

Cameron Campbell said...

Seerer? Repeat after me:

Peter. Was. Never. In. The. Military.

thwap said...


What was the point of that?

Did you know that we hanged Japanese officers after the Tokyo War Crimes Trials for not knowing what they should have known?

Your whole offering was not only tedious, it was also irrelevant.

Colvin, all by himself, gave the entire Canadian government reason to believe there might be problems and they had an obligation to seriously investigate things.

Instead, they stuck to their policy of deliberate ignorance, which, again, would have won them a length of hanging rope in the 1940s.

The Seer said...

For the benefit of Cameron, I say: "Peter. Was. Never. In. The. Military."

The ones willing to fight to the second last Canadian never are in the military. But they're always willing to use the military.

The Seer said...


The fact that Peter is not in the military has an effect on what Peter has authority to tell the PM; it does not have an effect on what military officers feel comfortable about telling Peter in writing. Besides, as long as the PM is Stephen Harper, I doubt that Peter does have the authority to tell the PM, and I don't think military experience is necessary for a smart guy like Peter to figure that out.

Ti-Guy said...

In pointless military adventures like this, military command is also willing to use the civilian authorities.

The rest of us deserve the truth, no more no less. After all, we're paying for it.

Whatever you're gassing on about, Seer, is beside the point.

The Seer said...

Professional soldiers do not tell their superiors things their superiors do not want to hear.

There. I said it. Explicitly.

For Canada's New Government, and, I suspect, for the majority of English-speaking Canadians, that's enough.

Ti-Guy said...

So in fact, you're blaming the soldiers. Without any evidence.

Lucky you to be so omniscient. What body of knowledge and experience are you working from?

David V. said...

"Professional soldiers do not tell their superiors things their superiors do not want to hear."

Ditto with civil servants in general, I imagine. And their ministerial superiors, in cases such as these, then take that silence as evidence of absence, and run with it in an attempt to mislead the public.

Plenty of blame to share around here. The best-case scenario, from what you've said here, is that McKay allowed himself to be deceived by his military servants, in which case they're probably guilty of war crimes for handing people over to be tortured, and he is complicit through his incompetence.

thwap said...

David V,

u nailed it!

The Seer said...

Putting politics aside, we’re back to the question of what the soldier does when the enemy offers to surrender? Shoot him? Give him to the Americans? Open a Canadian POW Camp for captured Taliban?

It’s no answer to say that Canada’s Old government should have thought of that before sending Canadian Forces into Afghanistan. What the decision was made, Americans were no more likely to torture prisoners of war than Canadians. No one foresaw this problem. The reason Canada’s Old Government sent Canadian Forces to Afghanistan is that The Leader of the Free World had adopted a “you’re with us or against us” approach to Canada, and everyone else, and even Tony Blair was pushing Canada to lend its moral authority to the invasion of Iraq. Afghanistan may not have been a good idea, but it was an acceptable way of managing foreign relations.

Canada’s New Government did not cause the tortured prisoner problem any more than Canada’s Old Government caused it. Canada cannot afford the helicopters needed for safe transport of the troops from one camp to another. Where does Canada get the money for its own POW camp?

The reason neither Peter nor Stephen nor anyone else wants to know about the problem is that they do not, short of raising taxes, have a solution.

Neither do I.

In these circumstances, talk about complicity in war crimes is political posturing. There are plenty of problems Canada’s New Government can control and botches for pure partisan reasons as well as incompetence. Save your criticism for those issues.

thwap said...

Where do we get the money?

How about by not giving away tax-cuts to the wealthy?

What's more important? A bunch of corporations and rich fucks having wilder parties, or not being the first Canadian cabinet ministers to be tried for war crimes?

There was no excuse for this.

Ti-Guy said...

Americans were no more likely to torture prisoners of war than Canadians.

So we thought until Abu Ghraib.

the rev. paperboy said...

Seer, the old govt may well have caused the problem by not setting up a better system for handling the inevitable prisoners, but he current (Gnu) govt was informed that there was a problem by both their own people (Colvin) and third parties (the Red Cross) and they stuck their heads in the sand and did nothing, then claimed there was no problem. Then Harper went one further and claimed that anyone who said there was a problem hated Canadian soldiers and weren't just attacking the govt but were attacking the soldiers. Which is bullshit.

Jennifer Smith said...

I want to see him cry again. I kinda liked him when he cried.