Somewhere in the ethereal bowels of a server at Blogger, is a post I wrote. It was, I think, one of my more eloquent works.
In that post I wrote, quite honestly and magnanimously about the great job Stephen Harper did yesterday in apologizing to Maher Arar. I congratulated the Prime Minister on his statesmen-like demeanor and his ability to rise above partisan politics to do the right thing for a wronged, innocent citizen. I almost gushed at how he apologized for the things the government of Canada did that caused and assisted in his ordeal. I applauded how the Prime Minister forcefully, yet diplomatically called on the US government to not only remove Arar from their no-fly list, but to apologize for its actions as well. And finally I wrote how Arar, a man who can no longer work because of his ordeal, was justly compensated. It was a real feel-good post, almost a literary group hug between all sides of the political spectrum.
But that post is gone. I had to delete it, because that's not what happened.
With one small sentence, Stephen Harper ruined the entire thing:
"Although these events occurred under the last government, please rest assured that this government will do everything in its power to ensure…"
He once again returned to the tired, old partisan mantra "For 13 years, the Liberals...". Another score for the "but the Liberals..." crowd. A ham-fisted attempt to use this important venue for cheap political points.
As others have brought up, if Stephen Harper brought up the Liberals record during that time, then his own and that of his party need also be brought up. Its quite clear from the things he, Stockwell Day and Diane Albonczy said they thought he was guilty as charged. They weren't upset that Arar was imprisoned in a Syrian jail, undergoing torture, they were upset that the US had to arrest and deport this "terrorist". They were up in arms about our lack of security. Based on the Prime Minister's own words and the words of those currently in his cabinet, it is quite clear that if they had been the government back in 2002, Arar would probably still be in that Syrian cell, because unlike Wayne Easter, Bill Graham and other members of the Liberal party at the time, they thought he was guilty.
And now, for the Prime Minister to try to use this occasion to smear his political opponents is disgusting. Hypocrisy and opportunistic do not begin to describe that action.
Do not think of this as defending the Liberals. As Amnesty has pointed out, they were slow to help but, at least they accepted his innocence.
"The Liberals dragged their heels as Arar suffered in a Syrian prison, while prominent Tories -- then MPs for the Canadian Alliance -- chided the former government for trying to help at all, says Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.
Liberals have angrily shot down recent Tory accusations that they didn't "lift a finger'' to help Arar during his ordeal in Damascus.
"It's unfortunate that a case that's this important and significant is being reduced to that sort of political mud-slinging,'' Neve said in an interview.
"If the Liberals had been any more active than they were at the time, I think the (former Canadian Alliance) would have been apoplectic.''"[emphasis mine]
I wanted to write and post that positive, feel good post about the award to Arar, but I couldn't because Stephen Harper ruined it. And instead of being happy about a job well done and feeling good for Maher Arar and his family, I am instead angered by another example of the slimy political grandstanding, mud-slinging and opportunism that seems to have been the hallmark of the last year of Conservative rule.
Perhaps its time for the Conservatives to stop blaming the Liberals for all of the ills and issue they are facing, especially when their own behaviours at the time either contributed to the problem or, as in this case, were far worse. I may not philosophically agree with the Conservatives, but I genuinely thought when they took power last year, things in Ottawa would be different. Sadly, they are exactly the same.
Right now I am trying to be happy for Maher Arar and to look forward to Abdullah Almaki, who lives in my neighbourhood in Ottawa, getting his justice. But it is hard, knowing that this might be another opportunity for the Prime Minister to exploit in order to smear his opponents.
Once can be talked away, twice is a pattern. It appears from what Stockwell Day said today on The House, the Conservatives are going to continue with this disgraceful behaviour of blaming the Liberals and outright lying about their own position - the Arar was a terrorist and the US was right - at the time.
Enough of this. Its time for the Conservatives to stop this feckless smear tactic and tell the truth. Or shut the fuck up, one of the two.
And yes, this makes me incredibly angry, and I don't even support the Liberals...
(H/T to Dave at the The Galloping Beaver.)