THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – Prime Minister Harper claims that “The leader of the NDP, in 1939, did not even want to support war against Hitler”. When corrected that the NDP didn’t exist in 1939, the Prime Minister added, “Okay, it was the CCF, same difference. Parties do change their names from time to time. Our position is we will do what is in the best interests of Canada”. Godwin’s law which usually has been applied to Internet chats and discussion groups now appears to have migrated to the Canadian House of Commons.
Either that, or it is reason for Canadians to start wondering if our Prime Minister needs a refresher course in Canadian history?
The statement by Prime Minister Harper, even if applied to Thomas Muclair, the NDP Leader is equally inaccurate. Muclair was born in 1954. The Prime Minister was born in 1959.
One could suggest neither party leader opposed the Nazi party or Adolf Hitler in 1939 if one wished to get into that box as neither man was born yet. This kind of foolish gamesmanship does not belong in the House of Commons.
The CCF Leader in 1939 was J.S. Woodwoth who was a total pacifist. His lack of support for the war was not to support Hitler and the Nazis. It was an opposition to war altogether. As leader of the CCF, Woodsworth was also the only member of the CCF to vote against the war.
These kinds of toxic exchanges, regardless of which party one supports are a demonstration of how ridiculously hyper-partisan the House of Commons has become in recent years.
The name-calling and petty insults in Parliament set a terrible example for all Canadians as to how our leaders engage in what should be. This kind of exchange could be a demonstration that the Prime Minister and the Conservatives are starting to feel the heat from the New Democrats. Either that of that the Prime Minister needs to return to high school history class to bone up on his Canadian history.
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Here is the exchange from the Hansard:
Mr. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister left the door wide open to extending Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan beyond 2014. He spouted rhetoric and stated that the government had not received this specific request, despite the fact that reliable military sources have told the media that a request was in fact received from the United States.
Is the Prime Minister saying that the United States has not made any contact whatsoever with Canada regarding the possible extension of the mission in Afghanistan?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I said that I have had no such contact.
I also said that our priorities remain the same, namely, to ensure that Afghanistan is safe so that it does not become a threat to our security and to ensure that Afghans themselves assume greater responsibility for their own security.
Mr. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister stated, “all of the military missions committed to under this government have come before the House”. However, that is not the case, and he knows it.
The last extension in Afghanistan was authorized by the Prime Minister acting alone. In November 2010, he said to Jack Layton:
“The government has never submitted missions that do not involve combat to the House of Commons. This is a training and technical assistance mission and that is why we are acting on executive authority.”
Is the Prime Minister going to act unilaterally once again to keep our troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, once again, as I said, the government has every intention of bringing military missions to the House of Commons. In this case, this is a training mission. It is important that we ensure that Afghanistan is safe and is not a threat to global security. It is important also that the Afghans are responsible for their own security. That is why we are there, to prepare them to assume the full responsibility for their own security.
Mr. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr. Speaker, our troops have been in Afghanistan too long already. Canadians have told us that they do not want another extension. They do not want a Prime Minister who vacillates on whether there will be an extension. They want a Prime Minister who respects the role of Parliament, period.
Canadians want a clear answer from the Prime Minister. Will he keep our troops in Afghanistan past 2014, yes or no?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I have made myself very clear. Unlike the NDP, we are not going to ideologically have a position regardless of circumstances.
The leader of the NDP, in 1939, did not even want to support war against Hitler.
An hon. member: There was no NDP.
Right Hon. Stephen Harper: Okay, it was the CCF, same difference. Parties do change their names from time to time. Our position is we will do what is in the best interests of Canada.