Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The reviews are in

Susan Riley:
Dissembling, distorting and spin are, lamentably, part of politics and have been forever. But (Peter) MacKay's distortions are particularly blatant. He has a tendency to passionately advocate for some position, then, when contradicted by fact or logic, to lash out at opponents like a shrill boy backed into a corner.
MacKay (and the prime minister) accuse opponents of impugning the reputation of the troops -- more desperately as their carefully contrived defences crumble. This is not only untrue, it is deplorably cowardly. MacKay and Harper are hiding their own political mistakes behind the valour and professionalism of Canada's forces.

Now the minister is denying he ever attacked whistle-blower Richard Colvin personally and insists that he never used the words "Taliban dupe." But he did disparage Colvin for relying on the word "of people who throw acid into the faces of schoolchildren" -- implying that the diplomat's sources were exclusively Taliban fanatics.

That said, the weasel words, wilful blindness and savage partisanship that characterize the government's response has been a "whole-of- government" effort, from surprisingly incurious generals and senior bureaucrats, to timely leaks to friendly journalists, to Transport Minister John Baird's rabid, random, verbal flame-throwing.
Now there are calls for MacKay's resignation, but Harper will not want to risk a backlash in Atlantic Canada (or admit that the minister was only following orders). Still, MacKay may be moved to a lower-profile ministry in some future shuffle.

For now, he will survive with his reputation intact. That, of course, is his problem.

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