First, it was the flag flap
. The Conservatives refused to carry on with the Liberal-instituted practice of lowering the flags
on federal buildings, including the Peace Tower, for our fallen in Afghanistan. According to the Conservatives:
"Proper military protocol has been restored and that, for most of the military, that is something they support" - Peter Van Loan, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs.
Now while I strongly disagree with that descision, at least the return to tradition has some merit. It is a good arguement, even if it is not supported but some of the families - Lincoln, father of Cpl. Matthew Dinning, wrote a letter to Stephen Harper asking for the practice to be reinstated
, in a bitter irony, only 2 weeks ago.
But that was then, this is now.
According to my tree-ware version of The Ottawa Citizen this morning (for some reason, the story is not online yet - the version that is there
is different than the one in print), Harper and O'Connor have banned the media from being at Trenton to cover the soldiers return home
. From O'Connor:
"The repatriation of our fallen soldiers back to Canada is a private and solemn event between the families and the Canadian Forces."
No, according to the hard-copy Citizen, this is "unprecedented" - never before in Canada has the media been barred from such an event. The story indicates that General Hillier was not informed and actually expected the media coverage. DND has reported that they have not requested any change in media for privacy reasons. Further, DND refused to run the announcement on their website. DND spokespersons indicate that this came soley from O'Connor and the government and not from them.
In short, the Conservative government today, is changing a long-held tradition without the support of the military for political reasons.
Though this is only speculation, they appear afraid to show caskets and casualties for fear that support for the mission will erode. In otherwords he is doing exactly the thing that Bush did - trying to hide the truth and sweep reality under the carpet. Look how well it turned out for Bush.
Yesterday, they had to adhere to tradition at all costs. Today, its to hell with tradition, we can't trust the Canadian public with the truth.
Hypocrites. The whole damn lot of them.
Next time the government goes on about openness and transparency in government, remember this day. Remember how they choose to stiffle freedom of the press and to deny Canadians not only the truth, but the chance to grieve alongside the families, even at a distance.Update:
An anonymous poster has called me partisan and sadomasocistic for wanting the press there, ignoring my reasons of wanting to share in the grief of the family and show my respects to the fallen by observing them coming home for tha last time. Andrew at BBG has pointed out to me that I am not alone in this sentiment
"Lieut. William Turner was my cousin. I didn't really care too much about the flag not being lowered at Parliament Hill. Lots of other places have flags lowered. What really concerns me though is that I heard today that the media is not going to be allowed to film the coffins coming home and that this is a new permanent rule. As a member of one of the families I can tell you that I and some of my other family members have been glued to the TV and the internet, downloading pictures and stories of Bill. We have to wait along time until we can have his funeral and the media coverage has brought a lot of comfort to us. They have all been very respectful when told "No comment" and they have respected our privacy while still giving us a window into his time in Afghanistan. I will not be at the tarmac in Trenton just as I was not on the tarmac in Khandahar. I would dearly love to see him arrive home just as I was able to see him loaded onto the plane this morning. However, I will not be able to and the reason, I believe is political and not out of respect for the families. Honouring their sacrifice is what is respectful to the families.
Posted by: Kim | Email | 4/24/2006 9:57PM"
I wholeheartedly agree Kim. Please accept my condolences and pass them on to your family, as a grateful Canadian and supporter of the mission.
Out of respect for the families, the government still has until 18:30 this evening to change its mind and make this right.