I'm not exactly a fan of Sheila Copps on many topics, but she's got this one dead right, and it's the first time I've seen a columnist in the 'right-wing' of our media sphere (and yes, the Sun Media group is very right wing, IMO)
I've said for some time that Harper is a micromanager, and guaranteed to implode sooner or later. Ms. Copps observes similarly:
Harper broke the first rule of politics: Let your ministers take the lead with a clear departmental line of authority.
Save yourself for the big picture. Getting bogged down in minutia only hurts. Because there is no clear departmental lead, no one will assume responsibility when the going gets tough.
She cuts through Harper's bungling of the Afghanistan prisoners affair beautifully, pointing out the fundamental problem with how Harper has handled this affair:
But Harper's own vision is so tied to the military that he has paid little attention to the balance needed in government. There is a reason Foreign Affairs leads on international agreements involving multilateral treaties and conventions. It is their job to canvass the views of all relevant departments and come to a balanced conclusion about Canada's responsibilities abroad. The military has another job, to defend territorial integrity, to fight insurgents or terrorists and to execute the orders of their civilian bosses.
By putting the military in charge of prisoner transfer, Harper and Martin should have known they were courting trouble. These enemy prisoners are the same people who have blown up innocent people and taken out dozens of Canadian soldiers and a diplomat. They are the "scumbags" that Hillier warned about.
Asking the military to negotiate Taliban transfer is like asking the police to sentence the criminals they catch. The general may have wanted to be judge, jury and executioner but the prime minister should have insisted that Foreign Affairs take the lead.