Harper government pulls a Clinton, debates meaning of “is”

- October 31st, 2010

Bill Clinton famously defending lying to his senior staff about an affair with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton’s staffers asked him, “Is there anything going on between you and Monica Lewinsky?” He said no and later defended this when he was quizzed under oath by saying, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

This past week it seems the Harper government pulled a Clinton and told the world they had no part in any plea deal between Omar Khadr and the U.S. government. They denied diplomatic notes, they denied making any assurances about Khadr coming back to Canada.

Sunday we discovered the Harper government was channeling Clinton.

Over the next few days it will be interesting to see how they parse words, as they are doing already. See the comments from the press secretary for  Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon in a story from my Sun Media colleague Bryn Weese.

For the most part I spent last week assuming the government was parsing words or lying outright but assumed there were legal reasons they could not or would not speak about assurances to Khadr that he would get to serve out his sentence in Canada. At a press conference last Thursday I gave Cannon an out. Rather than ask him to comment on something he clearly wasn’t ready to comment on, I used my questions late in the news conference to ask why they couldn’t comment. Cannon didn’t bite and just dug deeper.

He and the rest of the government can claim they only said they were not a party to the plea deal. Fine. Legally accurate if only in a “truthiness” kind of way. But when Cannon said point blank that Canada did not intervene. We know that’s not true and now Cannon and the rest of the government need to explain why.

Here’s the transcript of part of the news conference just for the record. It starts with me following up other questions where Cannon said he could not comment.

LILLEY: Why?  The – at Guantanamo right now, we have had Khadr’s Canadian lawyers, they have been talking openly about the deal, Canada’s involvement in that deal for several days, the American prosecutor in front of the case has talked about Canada providing assurances and this is part of what led to a deal. So I understand you can’t say anything. Can you tell us why…

Hon. Lawrence Cannon: No, the…

LILLEY:             … you can’t say anything when everybody else involved in the sentencing, in the trial, is speaking about it?

Hon. Lawrence Cannon: I speak in the name of the government of Canada and what I can tell you is that any plea bargain was between Mr. Khadr’s officials, his lawyers as well as the American government. And the government of Canada is not involved in that.

LILLEY:                    So essentially you are accusing the U.S. prosecutor and the other lawyers of lying because they have said..

Hon. Lawrence Cannon: I’m not accusing anybody, I’m saying that we are not involved in the plea bargain between Mr. Khadr and his lawyers and the government of the United States of America. This is an internal matter that is dealt with in the judicial system in the United States of America. The government of Canada does not intervene in that issue.

Read more:

Khadr’s ordeal ended the only way it could

Categories: Politics

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15 comments

  1. TO Mulder says:

    Our government would not have gotten involved in this case other than to address questions that could have applied to ANY citizen that was arrested, charged and found guilty in the USA. Switch Omar Khadr’s name to “Joe Canadian” and the answer would have been the same.

    I think you are wrong in assuming they played a specific role in the plea. It is more likely that Khadr’s lawyers and the American’s were misinterpreting or misinterpreted a Foreign Affairs response.

  2. parnel says:

    The Tory culture of lies continues

  3. Ted says:

    Culture of Deceit raises its ugly head once again.

    Brian, good for you to push on it, but you really shouldn’t expect any truth from these clowns. Deceit is so ingrained in their blood now and they’ve been able to get away with it, free passes from the press and opposition, now for so long that they think lying is the natural order. It is certainly the first instinct.

  4. It's Not the First Time says:

    Well, good: maybe now you’ll think twice next time they’re trying to use you as their conduit of misinformation for political ends — as when someone leaked the story about the, ahem, ’70% of Tamil Refugees Go On “Vacation”‘ to you.

  5. Lynda says:

    If it is true that there is a $1M suit against the Canadian Government, then obviously everything they say will be used against them. That is why they will not say anything.

  6. hollinm says:

    Once again it is the media that is being too cute by half. The fact is the government has said the process must play out between the U.S. government and Khadr. They were not part of that negotiation process.
    When the deal was done the government was asked if they participated. I suspect they did not. They were simply told what the agreement was. Faced with the plea agreement the government agreed with the U.S. that Khadr may return to Canada if a request is made. There is no committment only that the request would be considered favourably.
    The government denied invovlement because the plea deal had been done but the jury was still deliberating.
    What does it matter? These things have a way of coming out. Lilley you and the rest of the media now have the answer. Instead of waiting for the process to unfold you and the rest of the media pack had to keep asking the same questions and so the government kept denying. This fixation with Khadr defies explanation. He is a terrorist.

  7. wilson says:

    The Govt of Canada did NOT have a representative at the negotiating table.
    Seems to me it is the media pulling a Clinton here.

    The Govt of Canada responded to affirmation that Khadr was ‘entitled’ to ‘request’ repatriation,
    a statement of fact,
    something EVERY Canadian can request,
    Khadr’s lawyers used that statement of fact in their negotiations.

  8. Bugzy says:

    And you know that how Wilson? Are you one of the many who are part of the high expenses showing up in Harper’s office expenses? I think you are along with Common sense and I am sure others can add to the long list of Harper’s love in parrots. There is no other explanation because surely if one uses any amount of common sense would not still be supporting the reformatory C.R.A.P party and still believe his blatant lies.

    As Ted says, You can’t expect from those clowns and jesters dancing to Harpers tune.

  9. Bugzy says:

    Correection, You can’t expect truth from those clowns and jesters dancing too Harpers tunes(Lies)

  10. Jen says:

    Jean Chretien was in government when fifteen(15) year old Omar Khadr was arrested and throughout the liberal years in government neither the liberal party of canada nor their media talked about little Omar-not until the coservatives party came to power.
    The media will get what they created. There will be no way out for them.

    The Conservatives are in a minority government therefore there things which they don’t like have to be done.

    Omar Khadr should have no troubles finding a job working in the media that chanted for his return nor should have troubles working in the Coalition parties that also chanted for his return.

    As long as the media stick to their ‘hidden agenda’ the liberals, omar khadr, and other terrorists are well protected by them.

  11. Joan says:

    Yes, Jen, be very afraid. That is what your master wants, and he doesn’t want you to use your brain too much. Of course they knew what was going on between the US Military, the US Judiciary and Khadr. And, if they didn’t, they are either stupid or incompetent, which, I believe, aptly describes Cannon. Canada has a constitution, laws and has signed international treaties which this government is bound to uphold. They are the “law and order” guys, aren’t they? Actually, the only laws they uphold are the ones they agree with, and seem to think that they are not constrained like the rest of us. Whether or not you like Khadr, he is Canadians and is entitled, under the law, to be repatriated and, if appropriate, rehabilitated. I’m not sure why he would find a reason to want to become a functioning member of this society, based on the way he has been treated so far, but maybe by the time he gets back here there will be compassionate experts that can convince him that Canada is a worthy country. I hope so, but some of the comments on this site make me wonder how much farther we can sink before we become just another banana republic.

  12. Jay Rees says:

    Why am I bothering to write at all…..? You say that comments will be appear “once it has been approved” which gives you the opportunity to remove any comment, for any reason you choose, Brian, whether warranted or not.
    Sorry to say, as a media person you are rolled up amongst the rest of the media. You do not speak for me. Not any more. Not for some time actually.
    The media attacks government, and others, and ignore the “attacks” on yourselves. The credibility the media once had is evaporating. Media bias was once a joke: now is it THE joke. Get your own ‘business’ in order then, and only then, will you have reason to be critical of others. Sayonara.

  13. Joan says:

    Jay, it sounds as though Brian represented you as long as his bias leaned toward your beliefs. You can’t have it both ways, buddy. Lets support and celebrate unbiased reporting on all fronts for a change. I am personally offended that no one ever calls Harper on his lies and deceit. Perhaps it is because he is so hard to find and he never speaks to anyone without a script so it is difficult to hold him to account. The other problem is that in his so-called democracy, he will withhold funding for any organization that crosses him so he has managed to muzzle everyone. It’s beginning to feel like Stalinist Russian and we are all acting like it’s OK!

  14. Jen says:

    Let me see ” after all the years I spent in prison(Gitmo)left there by the liberal party when I was 15; is now pushing for my return after eight years. Why not in 2002 2003, 2004, 2005; the liberals had majority governments to do so but didn’t. I could have stayed in the canadian prison all that time then be extradited. Why didn’t the liberals.”

    If the media want the coalition parties to gain power so be it. Brian Lilley and SunTV will never see the ‘ight of day’
    Socialists communists marist do not like the idea of any media that speaks against them. In fact, the so call right wing media here will be shut down completely. It has be done to other nations run by such parties.
    CBC CTV G/M T/S, will remain afloat, since they have proven to their masters(opposition parties)that they speak strictly for them.
    Unionist big shots will demand more money since duceppe and layton belong to the unions. And believe me the opposition parties will have no choice but to give and give and give.

    If Omar is going to be a bigger problem than the socialist marxist communist of the opposition parties; then, bring down the CPC for them.
    This is my opinion.

  15. Kursk says:

    It’s incredible that the Jr. Marxists here are more concerned with venting against Harper, than worrying about the fact that their future safety is in Jeopardy. They should be more concerned that in a few short months, that little son of a bitch could be sitting next to them on a a streetcar sizing them up for a C4 tailored pine overcoat.

    Incredible.

    If this man kills anyone, Its on your heads. It won’t be pretty, and there will be violence .Guaranteed.Your tacit approval of this man will be your undoing.

    Real Canadians, those who remember it before 1968, will hold you to account.

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