Thursday, July 20, 2017

Canadian Tories playing with fire when they involve American Republicans

In the short time since his election as leader of the federal Conservative Party of Canada, Andrew Scheer appears to be taking the Tories in a dangerous direction. Or perhaps they are taking themselves, in the absence of guidance from above.
I refer to the recent unprecedented cross-border campaign by Conservative MPs to discredit Justin Trudeau for his difficult (but principled) decision to apologize to former child-soldier Omar Khadr, and to pay out $10.5 million to him in settlement of a wrongful imprisonment suit (which has been ruled on by the Supreme Court of Canada, and which could have cost the state much more).
Prominent Conservative MP Peter Kent wrote a strongly worded op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, decrying the decision and arguing that it was a "cynical subversion of Canadian values". Conservative MP Michelle Rempel resorted to the Republican mouthpiece Fox News to lambaste Trudeau, claiming that "most Canadians are absolutely outraged about this" (read: "most Canadian Conservatives").
Other online campaigns are also under way, such as the Conservative Party's "Khadr Questions" website, and the unfortunate "fake news" video by Ontario Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant (which was hastily taken down, although not before damaging Canada's credibility abroad).
What all these efforts have in common is an apparent willingness by Conservatives to put party political (and anti-Trudeau) aspirations above Canadian national considerations and the bipartisanship that has always marked Cannada's relations with the USA. This is not just a matter of airing the country's dirty laundry: this is deliberately flaunting said laundry in a particularly disruptive and destructive manner.
Yes, I understand that the Conservatives have their own opinions about Mr. Khadr (although just how they planned on squaring that opinion with the Supreme Court's decision, I am not sure). But attempting to drag the whole US Republican media machine into what is very much a domestic issue, goes against decades of precedent and common sense.
Whatever the Conservatives actually believe Canadians think about Omar Khadr, I'm pretty sure they do not really want to ally themselves with the Republicans south of the border. This is a dangerous tendency that needs to be nipped in the bud pronto.

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