OTTAWA – POLITICS – They say that “the truth the first casualty of war,” but our new Defense Minister seems to think making this expression a reality is somehow part of his job description. In his first three months on the job Defense Minister Jason Kenney has been caught three times intentionally spreading disinformation.
To commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8th Kenney tweeted a picture of very young Muslim girls dressed in burqas (full body veils that cover the entire face including the eyes) chained together and being walked down a street. In the description of the picture the Minister suggested that the girls were “enslaved” by ISIL in Iraq. In reality, this picture wasn’t of enslaved girls being held by ISIL in Iraq, but of young schoolgirls in Lebanon who were in costume and participating in a ceremony to commemorate an event that occurred 2000 years ago. To make matters worse, the children were of the Shia Muslim faith that are the primary target of ISIL’s religious war. Having gotten his history both backwards and wrong you would think that the Minister would at least apologize or delete the offensive picture and comments. He did neither. Instead, a spokesman for the Minister refused to respond to requests to the media and the picture remains on his official page today.
The second incident occurred just four days later on Wednesday March 12th when Kenney explicitly stated that a Canadian naval vessel had been “buzzed” (a military term for a low level fly over by a jet) the week prior by a Russian fighter in the Baltic Sea. He said this to underscore the aggressive nature of the Russian military and hype the threat it posed to Canadian forces that were merely in the water and training nearby. Again, the Minister was caught telling the opposite of the truth. We now know that no Canadian naval vessel has been “buzzed” in the Baltic area recently because NATO central command in Europe issued a statement to correct the record. As the organization overseeing the training and observation mission in question NATO command knows exactly what is happening at all times because, you know, they have radar. In an effort to explain away Mr. Kenney’s “error” the Prime Minister stood in the House of Commons and explained that the Minister was “new” to the job and asked us to give him some time so that he could get his feet wet.
Finally, this week Kenney told yet another whopper and was shown up by the United States military this time. During a media briefing on the Iraq-Syria mission Minister Kenney said; “The United States is the only one of those five [allies] that has precision-guided munitions. That is a capability the Royal Canadian Air Force has, so one of the reasons our allies have requested we expand our air sorties into eastern Syria is because with those precision-guided munitions our CF-18s carry, we can be more impactful in the strikes we make against ISIL.” So in a nutshell; only Canada can help the US, and the US is in Syria, so the US needed Canada to help them in Syria. Again, this statement was completely false. Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who are participating in the mission have purchased the same precision guided weapons that Canada has, and in reference to their bombing missions Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said these Arab nations were; “…performing just as well as we are on the issue of precision and reducing the possibility of collateral damage.”
So here we are. After just three months on the job Defense Minister Jason Kenney has shown that the truth matters very little to him if it even matters at all. New Democrats have never trusted this Conservative government to tell the truth to the Canadian people, and Minister Kenney’s shameful conduct since his recent appointment is yet another glaring example of why.
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River