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Nanos National Poll - Views on Afghan detainees issue

337 comments Latest by Blackacadian

The results of a new Nanos national poll suggest that none of Canada’s political parties have turned the Afghan detainee issue to their advantage. Of the 48.8% of Canadians who were aware of the Afghan detainee issue, the Canadian Armed Forces are considered by Canadians to have the greatest credibility on this issue.

Of note it is a mixed bag as to whether Canadians believe the messaging of government or the opposition parties.

Nearly four in ten Canadians (37.8%) believed that the Conservative government passed Afghan detainees to Afghan security forces knowing they might be tortured, while 36.3% of Canadians believed that the Conservative government would never knowingly pass detainees to Afghan security forces if they thought they might be tortured. One in four Canadians (25.9%) were unsure. Comparatively, however, Quebecers were more likely to believe the opposition parties (43.4%) than Canadians in other regions.

The overall confusion on this issue has meant that it has not been a significant vulnerability for the governing Conservatives.

The detailed tables and methodology are posted on our website. You can also register to receive automatic polling updates.

Awareness Question: Have you heard or not heard about the Afghan detainee issue?

Canadians (n=1,003)

Heard, 48.8%
Not Heard, 51.2%

Credibility Question: [‘Heard’ of Afghan detainee issue only] Based on what you have heard and know, please rate the credibility of the following in terms of the Afghan detainee issue where 1 is no credibility and 5 is complete credibility:

Canadians who had heard of Afghan detainee issue (n=489)

Mean Scores
Canadian Armed Forces, 3.35 out of 5
Opposition Liberal Party, 2.66 out of 5
Opposition New Democrat Party, 2.65 out of 5
Conservative government, 2.48 out of 5
Opposition Bloc Québécois Party, 2.37 out of 5

Believability of Positions/Statements Question: Some people say that the Conservative government passed Afghan detainees to Afghan security forces knowing they might be tortured. Others say that the Conservative government would never knowingly pass detainees to Afghan security forces if they thought they might be tortured. Which of these two views best reflects your personal opinion?

Canadians (n=1,003)

The Conservative government passed Afghan detainees to Afghan security forces knowing they might be tortured, 37.8%
The Conservative government would never knowingly pass detainees to Afghan security forces if they thought they might be tortured, 36.3%
Unsure, 25.9%

Quebecers (n=251)

The Conservative government passed Afghan detainees to Afghan security forces knowing they might be tortured, 43.4%
The Conservative government would never knowingly pass detainees to Afghan security forces if they thought they might be tortured, 35.6%
Unsure, 20.9%

What do you think?

Cheers, NJN

Remember to rate the views of others - to allow us to recognize the opinion leaders in our national conversation.

Individuals with the top ratings make it to Nik’s Leaderboard

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Just sticking to the questions in hand. It's inconceivable that only half of C... more

Bernie (Ontario) 23 Dec 08:46

The opposition needs to be steady on their feet in this scandal and to keep on t... more

rough and tumble (suspended) (Québec) 23 Dec 22:51

As one reads the pieces that have been written in the various print media and th... more

brusmit (Suspended) (Ontario) 23 Dec 08:58

Simple answer, From the CBC. The military police has reported that it rece... more

brusmit (Suspended) (Ontario) 23 Dec 09:00

You are right the media has been saturated with the coverage and like most Canad... more

hollinm (Saskatchewan) 23 Dec 11:28

Now who is "assuming" as you write, "No party or politician commands my unquesti... more

brusmit (Suspended) (Ontario) 24 Dec 12:11


Tom Good

The related wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not initiated by Canada nor were they well thought out from the beginning. The wars were conceived in deceit and persued with changing and evasive goals. There were no weapons of mass destruction and Osomer bin Laden has changed his Afghani address and his forwarding address is still unknown. The independent foreign correspondent reports were "downgraded" by political and military authorities on this continent often quoting their "embedded" correspondents to refute the unpleasant.

The Canadian authorities could not be so stupid (or could they) to think what happened in Abu Ghraib under civilized American control could not happen in Afghanistan under medieval Afghani control.

Now, we can not hold the Conservative Government minions entirely responsible for the prisoner turnover that the Liberal Government minions (probably the same people) likely set up. What one CAN hold the current government responsible for is not correcting the errors and applying responsible oversight to the claimed "unknown" procedure that was obviously known but discredited. The Richard Colvin trashing is, to me, an obvious political damage control by a government that obviously does not know who is in CONTROL of the Afghanistan file and who gets what reports on their desk. Can anyone tell me the name of the Canadian who is in charge and no 'if, ands and buts'????? Who expects Canada's military leaders or political leaders to go into the Confessional then commit Hari-kari ?

Other Coalition forces were aware, in 2006 and later, of the flaws in the Canadian transfer system, for example, the reports of the British Col. Dudley Giles, the International Red Cross and as noted in the Colvin reports of that period.

To this day Canadians cannot say WHO is in charge of the Afghanistan file-----is it the military, who it should not be, or is it someone political, who it should be. Peter McKay is correctly getting the flack but, personally, I would not be inclined to expect more of him than to organize a skating party on the Rideau Canal.

The corrupt Afghani government of Karsai will maintain the status quo as having some 110,000 NATO troops on your soil is foreign aid in itself plus "good intentioned" reconstruction dollars continue to flow----usually into some official's pocket. The ordinary Afghani people, however, may well view foreign troops as great an enemy as both the Taliban and their corrupt government while Karsai continues to enjoy the buddy-buddy support of North American political leaders....Disgusting.

The Afghanistan engagement was a mess in the beginning and continues to be so. The unfortunate plight of the prisoners is not a Canadian domestic election issue but the way the Canadian Government has responded is a domestic creditibility issue. As governments primarily defeat themselves, the less than forthright response will go into that expanding bag called "cummulative error". Unfortunately,Canadians will continue to die in a war that is less justifiable by the day, if it was ever justified.

[updated Wed Dec 23 06:09:18 -0500 2009]

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23 Dec 06:09

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Non-aligned in Toronto

Nik, your poll does more to muddy the waters than clarify them. The Canadian forces componant can't be reasonably compared to the political parties.

Who, after all speaks for the forces? Is it General Hillier (ret'd) who essentially piled on in the defamation of Mr. Colvin? Or is it General N. (active) who one day said one thing and the next day recanted? Or is it Colonel Noonan who documented clear cases of Detainees being turned over and then tortured, having to be rescued from the Afghan Gov't forces by Canadian troops?

Naturally, with all the "support the troops" propaganda extant. Canadians are not going to want to criticize them, and indeed, from all available evidence, the soldiers on the ground have acted honorably and proactively within the parameters of the flawed transfer agreements (present and past) they have been given to work with..

But to throw them into the political mix does a disservice both to the political process and to the Forces.

[updated Wed Dec 23 08:10:38 -0500 2009]

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23 Dec 08:10

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Jan from Whitby

The Afghan detainee issue is no different than any situation before. when dealing with people outside the Western Culture sphere it is a entirely different ballgame. Yes we should be concerned about torture taken place, but what about what is happening in unknown areas of the world? Handed over prisoners are the responsibility of Afghanistan period.As long as our hands are clean we should not be to concerned. It seems that the opposition parties, Liberal and NDP are simply out to make political points, and destroy the Conservative Govt, by using this issue

[updated Wed Dec 23 08:20:40 -0500 2009]

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23 Dec 08:20

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No one wants to think that Canadian troops turned over detainees knowingly to be tortured but this is war and shit happens. Think about 2006. A new government, the military moving its operations from Kabul to Kandahar and all that entails along with fierce fighting the likes of which Canada had not seen in many years.

All this coupled with an agreement completed by the previous government which stopped the transfers of detainees to the Americans and now to the Afghan government. Yes there were lots of rumours that the Afghans were torturing detainees but the fact remains our military leaders were fighting an insurgency and trying to keep our men and women from being blown up. I would suggest it was not top of mind for them. They had to do something with the detainees and short of building our own prison system there were few options.

Harper is protecting the military here and in their zeal to find some way of tying Harper into the detainee abuse issue the opposition parties and the media are failing to grasp this point. Talk about war crimes, violation of the Geneva Conventions and other hyperbolic rhetoric threatens to reduce our reputation and of course undo the good works our troops have been doing.

All this supposedly happened almost 4 years ago and yet even with the new agreement in place and more inspections taking place the goody two shoes of this country sit in their comfy armchairs saying tsk tsk what bad boys our military are.

You cannot say you support the troops and then promptly malign them. Harper acted on the recommendations of the command in the field. He did not run the war from Ottawa.

If as Colvin says it was widely known that detainees were being tortured then the troops on the ground knew and therefore are complicit in war crimes. How wonderful of our opposition parties and media who are so desperate to pin something on Harper/government they would accuse the military of war crimes without any real evidence other than a man who was crying wolf in every memo that he wrote. I suspect people were reading those memos and rolling their eyes a lot like the man who cried wolf.

I am not surprised Canadians are ignoring this issue. Detainees being purportedly tortured at the hands of their own government is not going to be something they get all exercised about. There are many more important issues facing Canadians in their daily lives and that is what is going to determine the outcome of the next election.

[updated Wed Dec 23 08:39:43 -0500 2009]

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23 Dec 08:39

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Just sticking to the questions in hand.
It's inconceivable that only half of Canadians have heard of the Afghan detainee issue. I would have thought at least 95% had. Every TV and radio station and every newspaper carries it continually. I would would have thought that it was impossible not to have heard.
Even if not interested in politics or foreign affairs. Not to mention everybody talking about it. One couldn't help but hear.

How would I answer question 2?

Canadian Armed Forces, 1
Opposition Liberal Party, 2
Opposition New Democrat Party, 2
Conservative government, 1
Opposition Bloc Québécois Party, 2

I gave the opposition parties 2 only because they are not in power. I would give all political parties and the Armed Forces an '0' if I had that option and if they were talking about an issue that had the potential to reflect badly on them. They all lie to save their own skin.

I rely on credible resources for information on which to form an opinion.

I believe that every literate Canadian knows that in Afghanistan ( and practically every other country in that area of the world) torture is routine. I believe the Armed Forces knew it and that the government knew it. No one can ever convince me that they didn't. They just had to. Not only did they know that there was risk of torture (which is all international law requires) but knew that torture was actually take place.

It's inconceivable to me that Canadians would allow their government (no matter what party) to be party to turning over detainees even if there was a risk of torture.

[updated Wed Dec 23 08:46:45 -0500 2009]

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23 Dec 08:46

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brusmit (Suspended)

As one reads the pieces that have been written in the various print media and the comments of the news media outlets, I cannot help but be struck by how similar the detainee coverage is to the coverage that the media used for H1N1 and it would appear that the Media has overreacted once again.

Words, become super imposed over other words, concerns about "possible abuse," becomes "alleged abuse", than "abuse" which quickly evolves into "torture" and then "all were tortured" and at this time what do we have as proof of this evolution of words as there is no proof of action or deed by the opposition parties and the media.

Well if one is to take the Canadian Military police at their word and that they have released a report on Monday December 22 2009 to indicate that there is no example of abuse let alone torture.

So the question now becomes, just what is the media, the Liberals, NDP, Bloc, Mr. Colvin, Mr. Pardy and the others so front and center, really investigating and why.

Interestingly the Toronto Star has reported," Paul Champ, a lawyer for Amnesty International Canada and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said even Foreign Affairs has reported over the years that torture in Afghanistan is all too common."

"This is planned, deliberate, systemic torture," said Champ, who criticized former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier for "trivializing" the treatment of Afghan prisoners.

I would say interesting as I do not see how the Toronto Star gets to "this is planned, deliberate, systemic torture" while the rest of the media is reporting From Canadian Press, CBC, Globe and Mail, is reporting that there was not even a case of abuse let alone torture.

From the CBC.

The military police has reported that it received about a dozen allegations of mistreatment of Afghan detainees in Canadian custody in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, which were turned over to its investigative arm, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.

"Examples of the allegations received include complaints from detainees of having been forced to adopt a new religion, of not having been afforded the time to go to the washroom or the ability to perform ablutions for religious rituals," the statement said.

It said investigations into three allegations in 2006 and 2007 determined that they were unfounded.

There were six allegations of detainee mistreatment in 2008. In five of the cases, it was determined they were unfounded and one investigation is still ongoing.

"With respect to the ongoing investigation, [Canadian Forces] members have been cleared regarding mistreatment of detainees; however the investigation is still examining other remaining allegations," it said.

So far in 2009, investigations into three allegations of detainee mistreatment have determined they were all unfounded.

[updated Wed Dec 23 08:58:58 -0500 2009]

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23 Dec 08:58

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rough and tumble (suspended)

The opposition needs to be steady on their feet in this scandal and to keep on trucking. The tories are tyring so hard to bury it there must be something nasty hiding there.

Luckily the tories have until the end of January to hope it dies down and the opposition has until then an opportunity to get a real public opinion changer in front of Canadians. The scandal is just needs to be primed.

[updated Wed Dec 23 22:51:54 -0500 2009]

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23 Dec 22:51

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brusmit (Suspended)

As a rule, I prefer not to blend polls. But the two recent polls on the Detainee issues do have some rather interesting turns particularly for the Liberals as it suggest that this issue is resonating with a very small number of Canadians and that the numbers who do support the Liberal, NDP and Bloc position is well below their current support levels.

First lets us take Mr. Nanos poll; Awareness Question:

Have you heard or not heard about the Afghan detainee issue? Canadians (n=1,003), Heard, 48.8%, Not Heard, 51.2%.

And now, let us look at the Ipos Reid poll;

Country Split as 51% Don't Believe Canadian Officials or Military Knowingly Transferre Prisoners to Afghanistan Forces Who May Have Inflicted Torture.


So we have based on the Nanos Poll there are less than 50% of Canadian who are aware of this issue and of that less than 50%, who may or may not be following the issue in any discernable manner and those that are following the file have formed evenly split views on the matter.

Now if one takes into consideration the saturation level that the media and the three opposition parties have tried to give this non issue, it must be extremely frustrating to see that they are not only not reaching Canadians with their message, they are not even reaching their own base voters with that message..

I will qualify the above, that the statement does assume that one does take Mr. Nanos current poll to be correct and that based on the poll results the opposition Liberal Party, 2.66 out of 5, opposition New Democrat Party, 2.65 out of 5 and opposition Bloc Québécois Party, 2.37 out of 5, have not been able to broaden their views on this file and are currently tracking at just 50% of their own base.

The second point that is being driven by the Ipos Reid Poll, which shows less than 50% of Canadians feel that Canadian Officials or Military, did not knowingly transferred prisoners to Afghanistan Forces who may have inflicted torture.

Based on these two numbers, one can extrapolate out that if 50% or more have not heard about the issue and of the remaining 48.8% who have heard about the detainee question.

With less than half of those individuals believing the media, Liberals, NDP and the Bloc that there is confirmed occurrences' of torture that was the result of a Canadian action or lack of action, would bring the number of believers into the a percentage of less than 23% of Canadians that believe and that number is far below the polling numbers they currently are seeing.

[updated Thu Dec 24 11:41:06 -0500 2009]

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24 Dec 11:41

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rough and tumble (suspended)

Thursday, December 24, 2009 6:28 AM

Why Harper had a good year. Not.
Norman Spector

Perusing the papers this morning, I come across a rather bizarre explanation for the improvement in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s fortunes this year:

“[He] began the year facing crater-sized political potholes at home, so he adopted a time-honoured coping mechanism of Canadian prime ministers: he hit the road internationally.”

In fact, most of Mr. Harper’s discretionary international travel took place after September, when he succeeded in staring down Michael Ignatieff’s threat to bring down the government. And the reason he was able to do so — which also explains Mr. Ignatieff’s subsequent slide in the polls — is that Canadians were concerned about the worst recession since 1982, and the last thing they wanted was an election.

Mr. Harper fixed virtually his entire attention on the economy. He ably stole large parts of the opposition program for dealing with the situation; press reports of pork barrelling, therefore, served to reinforce the government’s message.

But, the improving economy also explains why more recent controversies have eroded Conservative support and taken Mr. Harper out of majority territory, which should give heart to supporters of the opposition parties as they gather for Christmas and New Year’s events.

[updated Thu Dec 24 16:35:26 -0500 2009]

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24 Dec 16:35

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brusmit (Suspended)

It is a little off topic, but I just could not help myself.

The Hill Times 13th Annual All Politics Poll, The Best and Worst of Politics in 2009.


2. Who was the year's least valuable politician? Michael Ignatieff

If there was a political pity poll, the Liberal Party's momentum score would be leagues ahead of the other federal parties.

Last year luckless leader Stéphane Dion was voted the year's least valuable politician, and after a disastrous October election, followed by a failed attempt at a coalition government in December, he was offed in a bloodless coup and promptly replaced by shiny new leader Michael Ignatieff.

But despite his initial popularity and media honeymoon, things didn't go as smoothly as Iggy and the Grits had hoped. In 2009 a third of respondents (including a few Liberals) voted him the least valuable politician.

7. What issue have politicians most shamelessly exploited for political gain?


The H1N1 debate was considered the most shamelessly exploited issue of the year.

And now that the waters have settled and doses of the vaccine are left unused, it's easy to look back and spot some glaring examples of alarmism.

Take the infamous Ten Percenter, sent out by Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, depicting a sick aboriginal child and a body bag. But in fairness to the feisty Ms. Bennett, the entire world may have been overreacting to this one, and the government's communications job was tardy and did not do much to ease the minds of Canadians.

Tory strategist Tim Powers told The Hill Times that he thinks the tone of the debate on H1N1 was inflated.

12. Who is your favourite talking head?

Chantal Hébert

When the popular "At Issue" panel, which convenes every Thursday night on CBC's The National, was discussing the Prime Minister's admission that he doesn't watch Canadian news, Chantal Hébert piped in the PM's defence.

"It's a sign of sanity that he would watch other news than Canadian news. And I say this as someone who does this panel but has never actually seen it," she said.

But while The Toronto Star columnist (who hates when people refer to her as "a pundit") might not like watching herself, her crisp and measured political analysis is considered gospel by many in the Ottawa bubble who chose her as their favourite talking head for the second year in a row.

"I am glad to see voters did recognize the exploitation of the H1N1 battle and detainee debate. While the government always gets criticized for this I think the opposition were inflating these matters to a level of rhetorical ridiculousness to hide from some of their own woes."

Mr. Ignatieff recently brought in an experienced new team, led by Chrétien-era PMOer Peter Donolo, and recent polls have showed Mr. Harper's substantial lead shrink slightly. But 2010 will be an uphill climb for the Liberal leader. At least that's how it looks today.

[updated Fri Dec 25 10:20:06 -0500 2009]

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25 Dec 10:20

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rough and tumble (suspended)

In reading and watching the year end stuff I definitley come to the conclusion the Tories are covering up the big lie on this issue. The body language from them, the obfuscation of truths, the ruthless slurs on others all add up to Tory sleaze.

[updated Fri Dec 25 11:39:22 -0500 2009]

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25 Dec 11:39

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Logo_lg_thumb novadog

Canadians have no sympathy for Taliban who throw acid on little school girls or Taliban who have been killing Canadian Soldiers with IED's. The detainee committee is a dead duck. If a Public Inquiry were to be held the Former Liberal Government will be held accountable for a inadequate detainee transfer agreement.

[updated Sat Dec 26 12:58:48 -0500 2009]

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26 Dec 12:58

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brusmit (Suspended)

non-aligned wrote [updated Thu Dec 24 11:04:48 EST 2009]

"Brusmit, since the issue has never been as to whether Canadian Forces are abusing detainees, your comment is fatuous and an effort to deflect the real issue:

I would introduce you to this piece that received very little coverage by the Liberal Centric Media in Toronto and as it goes directly to the Liberals attempt to deflect Canadians attention away from the truth, the piece cannot be said to fatuous as you have attempted to state and does go directly to the Liberals and Mr. Colvin's credibility.

The ones that I found the most instructive from the piece are the ones I have numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 as they do appear bring Mr. Colvin`s statements that he conversed with the Red Cross into question and what they would not have told him what he has reported.

With the Red Cross openly criticized Mr. Colvin and they have stated that " What he claims to know should not be put out in a public place,” and " “What we may or may not have discussed with Canada or with Colvin was confidential,” and. “This is not specific to Canada or to the situation in Afghanistan." and " We collect allegations and testimony directly from victims, not from second-hand sources, so we need to have this access"

Headline; Red Cross rebukes diplomat over Afghan torture allegations, Matthew Fisher, Canwest News Service: Sunday, November 29, 2009.

1) KABUL, Afghanistan — A senior Red Cross official has criticized a Canadian diplomat for publicly alleging the organization believed Canada handed detainees over to Afghan authorities knowing they would likely be tortured.

2) “What (Richard) Colvin has said publicly has put us in an awkward situation. What he claims to know should not be put out in a public place,” said Eloi Fillion, deputy director of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, where it has a staff of 120 foreigners and 1,500 locals.

3) “What we may or may not have discussed with Canada or with Colvin was confidential,” Fillion said. “This is not specific to Canada or to the situation in Afghanistan. We have privileged access (to detainees) because such information is confidential.

4) “We do not go public and we do not expect state representatives to go public because this could affect access to detainees and this could then become an issue as regards their well-being. We collect allegations and testimony directly from victims, not from second-hand sources, so we need to have this access. Sometimes we are the only thing between them and the authority.”

5) But the lawyer and French citizen indirectly cast serious doubt on whether Colvin would have been informed if Red Cross officials had significant concerns that Canadian soldiers or officials had violated international humanitarian laws.

[updated Sat Dec 26 13:32:00 -0500 2009]

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26 Dec 13:32

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brusmit (Suspended)

off topic again, but with the detainee issue appearing to have dropped off not just the front pages but all the pages of the news media, why not.

There are some interesting concepts that are worthly of debate here.

1) THE DEFICIT: Canada is now running deficits of more than $50 billion annually and this is plainly unsustainable. In making the cuts and tax increases necessary to right the balance, the first question to be answered should be: Will this action reduce inequality in Canada or make it worse?

2) ONLY WORK WORKS: With the boomer generation soon to retire we need policies that create quality jobs to pull people out of dependency at home and attract immigrants from abroad. The perverse interaction of our tax and social policy regime ensures that those making less than $20,000 a year, precisely those who need economic opportunity the most, remain disadvantaged.

3) GLOBALIZATION: In terms of sensitivity to community needs, Canadian-owned companies have an obvious advantage over global behemoths. The fire sale of Nortel to foreign buyers, for example, was a real tragedy. How to create an ongoing Canadian edge in a globally competitive world should be at the forefront of public policy.

4) SOCIETAL HEALTH AND POVERTY REDUCTION: The best preventive health policy is a poverty reduction strategy and the best poverty reduction strategy is a pro-work and pro-family strategy. Families are the core of community. So in our social spending children must be one essential focus and seniors the other. We must especially prevent the millions of Canadians who do not have adequate pension protection from slipping into poverty. Those at the start of life and those in the sunset of life must never be forgotten.

5) FIRST NATIONS: If poverty among children is the widest, deprivation among our aboriginal peoples runs deepest. Water quality on reserves must rise from Third World status, urban aboriginals must come into policy focus, and our three northern territories, which have such significant aboriginal populations, must finally be treated equally by Ottawa by devolving resource revenues to them.

6) ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: Community demands that the air we breathe and the water we drink should be a common good. Stewardship of the planet is humankind's greatest responsibility. It is a duty that Canada is failing.

7) DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS: Community requires a commitment to civility. We cannot learn from each other if we do not respect each other. Our political system alienates Canadians because our parties have allowed their partisan instincts to become overbearing. Our representative institutions are dying a slow death.

[updated Sun Dec 27 10:10:03 -0500 2009]

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27 Dec 10:10

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brusmit (Suspended)

Sometimes a little history on a subject gives one a different perspective of the who, what, when and where and I have picked up some points to illustrate that and here are some points to refresh the memories and allow a more reasoned debate.

It is actually rather ironic that the Conservatives are able to wrap themselves in the Canadian Flag, because of an action that a Liberal PM put in place and the Liberals who put us there are on the outside looking in as Canadians rediscover their national Pride after decades of neglect.

1) 2005 At the time, it hardly seemed epic: Most Canadians didn't know Kandahar from Kunduz. But the military wonks immediately could tell this was a game-changer.

Putting our troops in Kandahar, at the ideological and political center of Taliban territory, meant the Liberals were shedding decades of peacekeeper posturing, and were putting the country on a very real war footing.

2) Martin didn't throw a dart at a map of Afghanistan. He fought for Kandahar in the face of U.S. skepticism — even though he knew it would mean body bags, and even though he probably could have landed the Canadian Forces a relatively cushy Euro-style sentry-duty assignment in the northern part of the country.

3) Our deployment set the stage for many of the other, seemingly unrelated, changes in Canadian policy and politics that followed in the latter part of the decade.

A nation at war doesn't think about itself in the same way as a nation at peace. We got more respect in foreign capitals. We began to take care of our military. We even started to treat our country's identity and history more seriously.

Having an army in the field has that effect on a nation — even if its citizens don't all support or understand the underlying conflict.

[updated Sun Dec 27 10:59:38 -0500 2009]

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27 Dec 10:59

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If You Think You Can Take A Breather...Think Again, And Fast!

We're back to amateur hour in Ottawa -- with some bright lights predicting that we won't see an election for at least a year and possibly longer. Just call that mediocre thinking.

Too bad most Liberals, not to mention other opposition parties, don't have the knack to get into this Prime Minister's head. However, some of us do have a fair idea of what's coming and it won't be pretty.

Over on my side of the political fence, Liberals are rebooting and dreaming of March sugar plums in Montreal. The heals-what-happens-to-ail-you conference is supposed to be lift-off central toward a glorious future. That is, if we even make it to Montreal...

But alas, this Prime Minister has other plans in the works: watch for one of the earliest budgets in history with votes in the Commons coming down, quite coincidentally..., right smack in the middle of our Liberal gabfest.

Harper has made his New Year's resolutions and at the top of the list is screwing us over, turning the screw ever tighter until we are forced to say uncle on next year's budget. Do you see Liberal contingency plans in the works? Are effective counter-measures already defined and ready for possible implementation? Not that I've noticed.

In short, some Liberals are thinking stretch out as a strategy while the PM plans his breakout. Sometimes I wonder if we are even playing on the same chessboard.

Harper wants us on our knees. It's for Liberals to decide whether we really want to be there. As Michael has so often said, it's the nature of the beast to oppose. But words alone won't cut the mustard -- you have to be ready with scenarios and counter-scenarios for every possible political eventuality. You can't afford to react on the fly unless you want to spend the better part of the next several years trudging away in opposition...

Liberals have to remember that when they are afforded the luxury of time, it's in their best interests to use it as a weapon -- not an escape hatch.

Leave it to others to come up with weak justifications for not acting decisively. Let the minor parties revel in the upcoming and long anticipated June Pension Pig Out. Our priorities should be elsewhere.

While some make convenient self-serving excuses not to stand up and be counted, let Liberals take the lead, as they have historically done in the past, and show Canadians a bold way forward toward equitable economic and social-justice prosperity for all.

[updated Sun Dec 27 14:08:17 -0500 2009]

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27 Dec 14:08

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Why Did Clinton Take A Beating?

You have no idea how I hope someone out there sends John Parisella our way!

That's one of the burning questions for me about U.S. health care -- why did the Democrats take a hit in 1992-93? Was it because they tried HC and failed or conversely, because people were mad as hell because they even tried to get health care?

The other bigee: what killed health care in committee? Was it the lobbyists and special interests? In short, who held the smoking gun that did health care in in the nineties?

[updated Sun Dec 27 17:44:56 -0500 2009]

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27 Dec 17:44

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brusmit (Suspended)

And the year end reviews continue, this time it is the dancing Mr. Ignatieff as he is doing the Liberal three step as he trys to find a place on Canadian politics.

1) Election is fast becoming a dirty word for Canadian politicians. Just ask Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

2) His threats last summer to take down the Harper minority government backfired, plunging him and his party to troubling lows in national opinion polls and forcing him to change his senior advisers.

3) Mr. Ignatieff now speaks about an “alternative” to the Harper government rather than mentioning the dreaded “election” word.

4) NDP Leader Jack Layton, meanwhile, doesn't even say the word at all or talk about the possibility of an election. Instead, he muses about making Parliament work.

5) In year-end interviews, broadcast Sunday on CTV's Question Period , both leaders of opposition parties danced around the topic of a possible election in 2010.

6) “What I've learned from Canadians in 2009 is they didn't want an election,” Mr. Ignatieff said. “What they want is an alternative to the Harper government.”

7) Mr. Ignatieff acknowledged it was a mistake to push for an election earlier this year, disrespecting and ignoring what Canadians were saying.

8) “Canadians were in the middle of the toughest recession in 25 years,” he said. “They want an alternative to the Harper government. What they didn't want is someone talking about an election. And somehow we got stuck with the idea that we wanted an election at any price.

[updated Sun Dec 27 18:32:24 -0500 2009]

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rough and tumble (suspended)

Here's a good year end review:

"For our Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I give the "American Lackey Award" for his ability to emulate George Bush and Dick Cheney, not to mention tagging along behind President Obama.

Our prime minister maintained such a low profile at the climate change talks in Copenhagen that many didn't know he was there. And as far as George Bush and Cheney are concerned, can anyone say "torture of prisoners."

The whole detainee scandal is typical of 'I don't care what anyone thinks' presidency of George Bush."

"Peter MacKay gets the "Yes I Lied but Who Cares" award for the numerous times he said that he didn't know anything about the abuse of prisoners and when it became apparent his ministry did know, he went home to Nova Scotia to be with 'real people'."

"Finance Minister Jim Flaherty gets the "I've Wrecked Ontario Now I Can Wreck the Country" award because now he is talking of slashing programs to pay for the billions of dollars the Conservatives have blown.

After all, we in Ontario remember the good old days of Mike Harris and his minions -- Flaherty, Clement and Baird. It will be déjà vu for many of us. I mean really, if we thought Mike was bad, he had nothing on Harper."

[updated Mon Dec 28 12:09:24 -0500 2009]

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rough and tumble (suspended)

I wonder what harper and his fellow religious right wing nut bars think of this 'religious" person?:

" In a posting on his blog just before Christmas, Mr. Blackmore – a religious leader who police say has 25 wives – says he is reluctant to continue his custom of year-ahead predictions. “I have learned how to live just one day at a time,” he states in a blog on his website .

But after citing some aphorisms that he attributes to Jesus Christ, he changed his mind. “Maybe I will make one prediction,” he says.

“Here goes. This coming year will not be a good one for all you officers, presidents, bishops, counsellors, trustees, spokespersons, or any other responsible persons that deliberately break up families, interfere with the free agency of men, women and children, and cause an attack or assist in an attack, religious or otherwise upon any person or his family,” he states.

“This year will be the beginning and in the end you will be single, lonely, desolate and damned,” Mr. Blackmore predicts."

Sounds like this could be an interesting issue for the Tories and maybe get some headlines trying to take peoples minds of their lies about Afghan Torture.

[updated Mon Dec 28 15:28:20 -0500 2009]

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brusmit (Suspended)

And here we all thought that it would not be possible to get a Leader of the Opppostion that was any less qualified than Mr. Dion, the Liberals end up with Mr. Ignatieff.

It is interesting to note that he did have crib notes on why he wantted to be PM for his next interview but he just could not come up with a reason as to why he wanted to be PM on his own.

RonaldODowd, you really have to throw a bag over this man and stick him in a cool dark place for a very long time.

From the Globe and Mail, Monday, December 28, 2009 4:31 PM, Jane Taber

“It was a lob question,” states the PMO email. “Emmanuelle Latraverse (a Radio-Canada television journalist) asked Michael Ignatieff why he wants to be Prime Minister."

"An easy question for a man who wants the job so badly he tried to force an election in the middle of a recession – someone who returned from Harvard just so he could become Prime Minister.”

“He talked about everything and anything, except why he wants to become PM.”

"The PMO says Mr. Ignatieff’s interview evokes memories of the 1979 interview given by the late U.S. Senator, who stumbled when he was asked by broadcaster Roger Mudd as to why he wanted to be president."

"The PMO internal e-mail says that Mr. Ignatieff couldn’t give a straight answer and that he stumbled and rambled."

"He noted, too, that Mr. Ignatieff was able to answer the question “quite eloquently” in another year-end interview, this time with Craig Oliver on CTV’s Question Period.

“He talked about everything

[updated Mon Dec 28 18:01:13 -0500 2009]

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rough and tumble (suspended)

Flaherty's world of lies closing in on him:

Although he has been urged – by former deputy ministers of finance, among others – to reverse the GST cuts, Flaherty is having none of it. Indeed, he has vowed not to raise any taxes at all. Instead, he told the Star in an interview last week, "It's necessary for restraint to happen." That means spending cuts are coming.

But here again Flaherty has boxed himself in by ruling out cuts in federal transfers to the provinces or to individuals, which make up about half of the budget. And the other half includes such sacred cows – for this law-and-order government – as national defence, border security, jails and police.

Now maybe some of the tory muppets will see why Iggy is standing back. The Tories are about to defeat themselves much as they did when Flatulence got stupid with finances in Ontario .

[updated Mon Dec 28 23:53:36 -0500 2009]

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brusmit (Suspended)

Here is another interesting recap of the last year in Ottawa from the National Post Dec 29 2009.

Bitterness and venom in Ottawa;

Conservatives can respond by citing the Liberals' continuing refusal to accept the validity of their rejection by voters, and their relentless efforts to demonize Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government.

What, after all, was the coalition crisis last winter but an attempt to undo the election of 2008 and install as prime minister a Liberal leader who had been overwhelmingly rejected by voters just weeks before?

Just a quick run through the past 12 months' events offers a taste of how rancid federal politics have become.

1) The coalition crisis was quickly followed by the economic crisis, during which the opposition mounted a furious effort to convince Canadians, against all evidence and common sense, that Mr. Harper's government was somehow to blame for a downturn that was sweeping the globe (and which Canada, in fact, weathered far better than most).

2) That was followed by efforts to somehow link the government to the unappetizing spectacle of former prime minister Brian Mulroney defending himself against the ever-changing accusations of the diminutive German arms merchant Karlheinz Schreiber;

3) which was followed in turn by Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff insisting the government had betrayed the unemployed by failing to enrichen the employment insurance program, even though the Liberals had considered it perfectly satisfactory when they were running the show.

4)) We were treated to two efforts to force the resignation of Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt (once over some private remarks she'd made to a press aide and once over fundraising activities in a previous job);

5) accusations the Prime Minister had surreptitiously slipped a Communion wafer into his pocket;

6) claims that the Tories had secretly manipulated Olympicwear designers into using a C (for Canada) that looked like the C (for Conservatives) on party literature;

7) efforts to blame the government for a shortage of H1N1 vaccine that was being felt world-wide;

8) allegations the Tories were trying to link Liberal MPs to anti-Semitism;

9) and the year-ending hysteria over the Copenhagen climate change conference, which saw Canada, which produces less than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, portrayed by overheated activists as an international pariah even though it has more aggressive reduction targets than China (which produces 21%) or the U.S. (which produces 20%).

[updated Tue Dec 29 13:17:41 -0500 2009]

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brusmit (Suspended)

Canadians say a pox on all their houses.

A new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Canwest News Service and Global Television has revealed that Canadians aren’t too pleased with the progress that politicians in Ottawa made this year, perhaps as a result of more political posturing than actual substance emanating from Parliament Hill over the last twelve months.

A majority (55%) of Canadians ‘disagrees’ (18% strongly/37% somewhat) that ‘the minority government in Ottawa is working well’.

Conversely, 45% ‘agree’ (6% strongly/39% somewhat) that it is working well.

Likely a function of this perceived lack of effectiveness, only three in ten (28%) ‘agree’ (3% strongly/25% somewhat) that ‘politicians in Ottawa got a lot done this year’, while most (72%) ‘disagree’ (22% strongly/50% somewhat) that they did.

It appears that Canadians either don’t believe the political leadership is the problem, or that a new set of leaders wouldn’t be any different than the current batch, as a majority (62%) ‘disagrees’ (22% strongly/40% somewhat) that ‘if we elect a new set of political leaders to the Federal Parliament things will be better’.

Still, four in ten (38%) ‘agree’ (10% strongly/28% somewhat) that this would improve the situation in Ottawa.

The data also revealed that Canadians don’t hold their political leaders in particularly high regard.

Just one in three (34%) ‘agree’ (7% strongly/27% somewhat) that they would ‘encourage any family member to run for public office because it is a noble calling’.

In fact, most (66%) ‘disagree’ (26% strongly/40% somewhat) that they’d encourage a family member to run for office because it is a noble calling.

All in all, perhaps as a culmination of the political posturing, antics, attack ads, and the constant threat of an election, one in three (33%) ‘agree’ (11% strongly/21% somewhat) that they’ve ‘tuned out of participating in any kind of political activity, including voting’, while two in three (67%) ‘disagree’ (36% strongly/31% somewhat), suggesting that they’re in it for the long haul.

[updated Tue Dec 29 14:23:30 -0500 2009]

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brusmit (Suspended)

On topic,

To assist the r.a.t. and N.a.i.t., in their future posts on this subject, I have provided the following for their review and considerations and if they are interested to find the truth about this subject they can go there as there is no politics, no parties and no spin.

Who is the CFNIS?

The CFNIS is an independent Military Police unit with a mandate to investigate serious and sensitive matters in relation to National Defense property, DND employees and CF personnel serving in Canada and abroad.

For more information about the CFNIS, please go to

Why go to the CFNIS website;

For more information about the October 3, 2008 conclusion of investigation into alleged abuse of three detainees in April 2006 in Afghanistan, please go to

For more information about the CFNIS Investigation Process, please go to

[updated Tue Dec 29 17:52:18 -0500 2009]

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brusmit (Suspended)

On topic and directly related to a comment made by N.a.i.t. and please note how easy it is to get factual information if one tries.

To assist the r.a.t. and N.a.i.t., in their future posts on this subject, I have provided the following for their review and considerations and if they are interested to find the truth about this subject they can go there as there is no politics, no parties and no spin.

Court Martial Convened For Canadian Forces Officer

NR–09.116 - December 21, 2009

OTTAWA – General Court Martial proceedings will begin January 25, 2010, at the Asticou Centre in Gatineau, Québec, for Captain Robert Semrau in relation to the shooting death of a wounded insurgent that occurred in Afghanistan in October 2008.

Captain Semrau is currently serving as a staff officer with the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment, at CFB Petawawa. He shall be tried by a General Court Martial, which is composed of a Military Judge and a panel of five military members. The military judge for this public hearing will be Colonel Mario Dutil.

Charge Laid Relating to Death of Presumed Insurgent

News Release January 2, 2009:
CFNIS 2009-01 - January 2, 2009

OTTAWA - The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) has charged one military officer late on December 31, 2008 with an offence relating to the death of a presumed insurgent in Helmand Province on or about October 19, 2008.
Captain Robert Semrau was charged with one count of second-degree murder, contrary to Section 130 of the National Defence Act, pursuant to Section 235(1) of the Criminal Code. Captain Semrau was a member of the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team at the time of the incident.

He is accused of shooting, with intent to kill, an unarmed male person. Captain Semrau is currently in Military Police custody and will be transported back to Canada shortly for a hearing before a military judge to determine whether he is to be retained in custody.

The Commander Task Force Kandahar was made aware of the allegations on December 27, 2008 and notified the CFNIS who immediately initiated an investigation.

The CFNIS laid the charge after analyzing the evidence and interviewing witnesses. As the matter is now proceeding in accordance with the Code of Service Discipline, and another part of the investigation is still ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

The CFNIS is an independent Military Police unit with a mandate to investigate serious and sensitive matters in relation to National Defence property, Departmental employees and Canadian Forces personnel serving in Canada and abroad.

[updated Tue Dec 29 18:10:04 -0500 2009]

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Speculating On The Way Forward.

Sorry Nik, but I want to mention the last Harris/Decima poll: most of you remember that one -- it put Conservative support at 34%. I'm just itching to get my hands on the polling numbers for January. I expect an interesting batch with minor variations.

Now for some fun. Personally, I'll be looking (or should that be "we"?!) for further Conservative downdraft. I expect the government's numbers to erode. But you know what they say -- every cloud has a silver lining and Liberals will be hard at work searching for an upward bias. They say the trend is your friend. I'm counting on it.

Nik wisely reminds us that the numbers are the numbers. Exactly. If we start to move over several polling cycles, look for a Liberal Christmas in the spring. It isn't easy or pleasant for us to look ourselves in the mirror and then sit on our hands. My bet is that we won't be doing that for too much longer.

Remember what Michael said. Their time is up. It's only a matter of when. The only hangup is waiting for the Canadian people to finally deliver the "all-clear". I'm confident they will.

[updated Tue Dec 29 18:31:07 -0500 2009]

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brusmit (Suspended)

On topic, here is the "torture" that N.a.i.t wrote about.

Christie Blatchford, Published on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 12:00AM EST, Last updated on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 2:25AM.

The other side of the story

This is another example of the perceived case of Liberal Friendly Media bias against the Conservatives that really has not gotten any play with the media and I wonder why the various politic shows who always manage to find the LFMB type from the Globe and Mail never spoke to her. (just Kidding)

The piece was written not by a needy civil servant who is working to his own political agenda for the new coalition (tongue and cheek mostly) but by an individual who (and this can be vetted and confirmed) was not hiding behind the wire (just kidding) and offers up a Canadian view of the abuse that the Coalition is levelling against the Military.

This is a interesting read for anyone who has an open mind and can think beyond the partistan politics of the Ottawa Bubble.

Ms. Blatchford starts with "I confess my biases right now" which in itself is refreshing as I cannot recall one of the Liberal Media Friendly types making that statement. (Just kidding)

"I spent a good part of 2006 in Kandahar - three tours of between four to six weeks each in about 10 months, with another tour in '07 - as an embedded reporter, which means I travelled with Canadian troops. I counted on them to keep my ass safe, and they did. I liked them hugely. The experience was one of the most significant of my life (if not on a par with the drama of being, say, in a budget lockup) and I treasure every minute of it. made some lifelong friends, and I love some of these men."

She then writes about the issue that has gripped the Liberal Media, Liberals, NDP and Bloc coalition for weeks now and she brings the issue into a true Canadian perspective (just kidding) and with keeping with my search for the truth as I do know that it is out there.

Here is Ms. Blatchford piece.

"I hold no particular brief for the Stephen Harper government, or any of its ministers, or the institution that is the military. I think they have all handled the detainee file clumsily, and that what they needed to say, ages ago, was that the detainee agreement wasn't very good to start with, and that they muddled along for the first year, finally fixing it in 2007."

So far so good on the bias side of the argument.

"What happened, I have been told by an army source, is this."

"On June 14, 2006, a Canadian Military Police officer who was working with the Afghan National Police was on the scene when the ANP stopped a van leaving a battle. The ANP said one of the three men inside was definitely a Taliban. The MP photographed the man and wrote his name down, but agreed to let him travel with the ANP back to Patrol Base Wilson. It was a 15-minute trip. Back at the base, the MP dutifully checked on the fellow and found the ANP beating him with their shoes. The MP then took the man back and made him an official detainee."

"The event was reported, but was considered by everyone to be a minor, low-level battlefield incident. The ANP unit in question had had one of their own killed just the day before. This is not to justify what they did to the fellow, but torture, to my mind, it was not."

"So that's one thing."

"Secondly, the MP didn't photograph the man purely to show he was in good condition when he got into the ANP truck. Canadians were routinely photographing every prisoner they detained, in part because most Afghans don't carry identification and sometimes have only one given name, but also so that international monitors, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, had solid evidence of who was who."

"Thirdly, it would be helpful if politicians on all sides of the House remembered to make the distinction between the conduct of Canadian soldiers - who by every account behaved exactly as Canadians would want them to behave - and the detainee issue."

[updated Tue Dec 29 18:37:38 -0500 2009]

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One must understand that this is a war zone and if mistakes were made efforts have been made to correct it with new protocol in place.But to have a public inquiry is way over top lawyers must be getting hungry and we all know what happened with the last one the Goverment shut it down before it was finished.Sid

[updated Sat Jan 02 11:31:20 -0500 2010]

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It is utterly amazing how the neo-con sympathizers cannot find fault even with the most fundamentally undemocratic (to use a polite term for the better suited "cowardly") action Harper has bestowed upon us: the proroguing of Parliament. Now the saying goes, “But it is perfectly legal.”

Well let’s consider an analogy. A child pornographer is indicted because upon examining the contents of his laptop evidence of trading in child pornography was discovered. His lawyer, however manages to argue that the evidence is inadmissible due to the police lack of the necessary court order to examine his computer. Charges are dropped. Does that make the man innocent? Conversely, Harper very cowardly prorogued Parliament to escape the consequences of his ignoring the Afghan prisoner procedures. Legal? Possibly, but certainly not ethical.

What is going on here is, once more, obvious to anyone not wearing the red and blue Tory sunglasses that enable him or her to exult in this otherwise underhanded bit of snide. This is yet another outright assertion that the PMO is the one and only seat of decision making power in the country. Parliament and all political parties constituting it are nothing but a nuisance that Harper can snuff off at will, any time he so wishes.

I said “Parliament and all political parties constituting it” because I also include the Tories in the mix, most of whose MPs most likely disagree with his actions, but are whipped into towing the party line or else, not just alone the Loyal Opposition.

Just how long are we going to tolerate this action is up to us, Canadians.

We have a beautiful country, the best in the world. Let us not allow this rogue specimen of a dictator to drag us into merely wishing we still had a Canada to be proud of.

[updated Sun Jan 10 19:23:53 -0500 2010]

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We, Canadians are a generous lot. I really believe that this is a statement we can shout to the four winds without fear of contradiction. So it goes as well without fear of contradiction that had Harper and MacKay come forward outright and said, "Yes, In Afghanistan we did something wrong, something that goes against the core of Canadian tradition of fair play and humane behaviour. Prisoners should not have been transferred to their torturers, regardless whether they were callous Taliban or innocent people picked up by mistake. But we were new at the government game, inexperienced and still blinded by the recent incident of 9/11. Admittedly this is not a pretty excuse, nonetheless, a fact; one for which we are truly sorry and vow never to letting it ever happened again. Please believe us when we say we sincerely apologise to the Canadian people for it, because we do"

That apology would have been accepted by the vast majority of us, I am sure and, even if by some of us begrudgingly so, we would have forgiven and forgotten, because that is the Canadian way of doing. But destroying the career and livelihood of Mr. Colvin, a career man of decades of impeccable credentials and ducking the bullet by proroguing government is not what we, Canadians condone. We view that as cowardice and cowards are not, definitely not, the ilk we forgive and forget that easily.

[updated Sun Jan 24 21:01:39 -0500 2010]

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