Posts Tagged ‘Cannon

Canada still in Durban III, lattes are safe

- November 9th, 2010

No lattes were ruined at Fort Pearson this morning.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney delivered his speech to the conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating anti-Semitism. While Kenney was boasting of Canada having pulled out of the second Durban conference, the one that gave Mahmoud Ahmadinejad top billing to deliver this speech, there was no mention of Canada pulling out of Durban III scheduled for New York next September.

In fact there was no mention of Durban III by Kenney at all.

Late yesterday we had word that the Harper government would pull out today. Kenney’s speech seemed the natural place to do that but it appears the internal government fight I alluded to last night continues.

The fight likely includes Kenney, staff at PMO and staff at Foreign Affairs. Whether Prime Minister Harper or Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon are involved is unclear. Harper is in Korea for the G20 Summit while Cannon is in Japan for the APEC Summit.

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Tories feeling heat from base over Khadr

- November 3rd, 2010

In this Pentagon-approved photograph of a sketch by artist Janet Hamlin, Omar Khadr, listens to closing arguments on October 30, 2010. The Toronto-born detainee pleaded guilty to five war crimes, including murder for the death of U.S. Delta Force soldier Christopher Speer.

It will be interesting to see how individual Conservative MPs react to the Omar Khadr story as they head into their weekly caucus meeting this morning.

Caucus meetings are a chance for MPs in each party to hear from their leader and vent their problems or concerns. I’m willing to bet that Khadr is an issue that Conservative MPs have been hearing about from the voters back home.

We’ve already heard about the fight in cabinet, the full caucus discussions should be fascinating.

As Ipsos-Reid showed earlier this week Canadians aren’t that crazy about Khadr coming back to Canada. The polling firm gave people three options and asked which they preferred.

“Do you think that Khadr should serve all, some or none of his sentence in Canada:”

The results: 25% of Canadians said Khadr should serve all of his sentence here, 26% said he should serve some of his sentence here and 49% said none.

By far keeping Khadr out of Canada is the most popular of the three options. Support for that option is highest in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia – all areas of Tory strength at the moment. By agreeing to let Khadr back into Canada the Harper government is angering it’s base.

I spoke with Liberal MP Dan McTeague about the process involved in exchanging diplomatic notes. As the man who used to play point on any file involving Canadians in trouble overseas, McTeague is acutely aware of how the system works.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon has tried to claim all along that Canada was not party to any deals, last week he denied that Canada had sent diplomatic notes assuring Khadr he could come back to Canada – Cannon even scoffed at the thought of saying the government could not speak because this was a legal issue before the courts.

So is it possible that Cannon didn’t know the notes were sent?

“Diplomatic notes are considered the official position of the Government of Canada,” McTeague told me. “Minister Cannon would have had to sign off on the note, he would have known what was in there.”

It is possible that Cannon and his foreign affairs department didn’t keep Prime Minister Stephen Harper fully briefed on how far the note went in assuring Khadr and some Conservatives have strongly hinted at that. The note was sent on October 23rd while Harper was travelling in Europe but McTeague doubts that Harper would have been kept out of the loop given the high profile nature of this file.

Some of this will remain a mystery for years to come but we know already that the Conservatives are feeling heat on the Khadr issue from those that don’t want the convicted terrorist back in Canada.

Late Tuesday an Info-Alert was sent out by Conservative Party HQ hitting at Michael Ignatieff for comments he made about Khadr and human rights during a speech in Montreal.

Sent: Tue Nov 02 18:00:11 2010
Subject: A disturbing gaffe, even for Michael Ignatieff / Une gaffe gênante, même pour Michael Ignatieff

A disturbing gaffe, even for Michael Ignatieff

Today in a foreign policy speech, Michael Ignatieff said “For four years, the Conservative government did nothing to protect Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen and child soldier…The Conservatives can’t claim to defend the human rights of people around the world, if they don’t defend Canadians at home and abroad.”

This is a shocking statement.

Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to murder in violation of the laws of war, attempted murder in violation of the laws of war, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and spying.

Khadr has also publicly acknowledged that he was a member of al-Qaeda, that he planted roadside bombs and that he knew he was attacking civilians.

Michael Ignatieff’s suggestion that Omar Khadr is an individual whose human rights require defending is an insult to the victims of Khadr’s crimes.

It is also an insult to those around the world who are real victims of human rights abuses – people like Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in Iran – an individual our government is standing up for by urging Iran to live up to its human rights obligations.

This is more than just a regular Ignatieff gaffe.  It is proof that Michael Ignatieff will stoop to any low when trying to score political points, including minimising the pain and suffering of real victims of terrorism and human rights abuses.

This is further evidence that Michael Ignatieff isn’t in it for Canadians, he’s only in it for himself.

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