“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell
The editorial in this space last Friday (“To the rescue,” May 3) questioned whether any meaningful changes to search and rescue services can be expected from Defence Minister Peter MacKay. The
reason? MacKay has a tendency to say one thing and do another.
The minister’s communications director, Jay Paxton, responded with a letter in which he described said editorial as “partisan drivel.” It is not unusual for a person charged with partisan duties to see all contrary argument as partisan in itself. It matters not which foot the shoe is on.
On Wednesday, The Telegram published a similar letter of protest by one Russ Carrigan of Paradise. Given that he mentions being in the company of Peter
MacKay years ago, we can only presume this is the same Russ Carrigan who once served as his chief of staff.
More to the point, Carrigan’s attempted rebuttal of the editorial seemed to lack a key ingredient, namely, any actual refutation of the facts.
1) Peter MacKay signed a hastily scrawled pact with fellow candidate David Orchard at the 2003 federal leadership convention. He subsequently broke that pact. Mr. Corrigan doesn’t dispute this core fact, but adds that Orchard “later ran for the Liberal party and lost.” Presumably, then, Orchard’s future activity retroactively voided any expectation that he not be betrayed by a fellow candidate.
2) On Peter MacKay’s famous airlift from a fishing lodge in 2010, Corrigan says the minister “seized a confluence of activities and matched his return to work with a search and rescue demonstration aboard military aircraft.” The confluence, in fact, was a cover story cooked up between the minister’s office and military officials. This was confirmed by emails uncovered by the Toronto Star, one of which states the airlift will be conducted “under the guise” of search and rescue training. In contrast, when first questioned in the House of Commons, MacKay said this: “Three days into the visit I participated in a search and rescue demonstration with 103 squadron 9 Wing Gander. I shortened my stay by a day to take part in that demonstration.” No, he shortened his stay in order to attend a function in Ontario.
3) On the inquiry into the treatment of Afghan prisoners in 2009, Corrigan adopts a diversion tactic from his former colleagues, making the indecent accusation that opposition MPs were more concerned about “Taliban” prisoners than they were about Canadian troops. The real point is that MacKay denied any knowledge of concerns raised by officials in Afghanistan, despite clear evidence to the contrary.
The same can be said for the proposed purchase of F-35 fighter jets. The minister claimed to have had no knowledge that the actual price tag was at least $10 billion higher than the one he advertised. Then he admitted he did know. In another words, it is not only the events themselves that are troubling, but the consistently wide gap between the minister’s pronouncements and the actual facts.
Corrigan concludes with this observation: “Canada would be a much stronger nation with more people of Peter MacKay’s ability and character in the House of Commons.”
If serial obfuscation is considered a sign of good character, this government is in more trouble than it thinks.