Harper says Liberals care more about
Taliban than troops
[PoliticsWatch posted 4:44 p.m. March 21, 2007]
OTTAWA — For
the second time in less than a month the Liberals are expressing
shock and outrage at comments made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper
during question period.
The latest incident took place on Wednesday after Liberal Leader Stephane
Dion demanded Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor resign for
incorrectly claiming the Red Cross was obligated to ensure the
proper treatment of detainees transferred to Afghan
"I can understand the passion that the leader of the opposition
and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners," Harper
said. "I just wish occasionally they would show the same
passion for Canadian soldiers."
Harper's comments caused moans from the Liberal side of the House
and a standing ovation from Conservative MPs.
The prime minister's jab at the Liberals prompted Dion to accuse
Harper of insulting "the entire Parliament" and to demand
Harper refused to apologize and said, "I'd like to see more
support in this House of Commons from all sides for Canadian men and
women in uniform. I think Canadians expect that from
Parliamentarians in every party. They haven't been getting it and
they deserve it."
After question period, Dion accused Harper of hurting "the
international reputation of Canada today in trivializing the issue
of war detainees."
Dion said Harper was "dividing the nation" with his
"outrageous" and "awful" comments.
However, some press gallery reporters were skeptical about Dion's
The NDP demanded O'Connor's resignation over a week ago when the
House wasn't sitting and the Bloc demanded the resignation on
Dion's demand for O'Connor's resignation comes the same day he
expelled MP Joe Comuzzi from the Liberal caucus for planning
to vote with the government on the budget.
When asked if he was trying to change the channel, Dion said
"channel about what?"
Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney later defended the
PM's attack on the Liberals to reporters suggesting it was
"All I know is that the Liberals are lukewarm at best in supporting the mission in Afghanistan and supporting the
troops," he said, noting the years of cuts they made to the
defence budget while in government.
"All they ever seem to do is ask questions about Taliban prisoners and not the condition of our troops, and I think the
prime minister was pointing out the obvious."
In February, the prime minister came under fire from the Liberals
after he tried to read into Hansard a newspaper article. The article
drew links between a Liberal MP's father-in-law, who the paper
described as a potential witness for an investigative hearing for
the Air India inquiry, and the Liberal caucus decision to vote
against extending two measures of the anti-terror legislation,
including the use of investigative hearings.
Harper also suggested that "extremist elements" in the
Liberal caucus were making Dion soft on terror and that Dion did not
like the police because of his criticism of a government plan to
include police representatives on selection panels for judicial
© PoliticsWatch® 2007. All rights reserved. Republication
or redistribution of PoliticsWatch content, including by framing,
copying, linking or similar means, is expressly prohibited without
the prior written consent of Public Interests Research and Communications
Inc. (PIRCINC). PoliticsWatch is registered trademark of PIRCINC.