Friday, September 07, 2007

And The Truth Emerges...

Remember an MP by the name of Wajid Khan, who crossed the floor some months after being appointed "PM Harper's Special Advisor on The Middle East and South Asia" - while sitting as a Liberal MP?

I suspected at the time that at least part of the picture was related to the Harper government's desire to sweep under the rug just how badly they were botching the Foreign Affairs portfolio in the Middle East.

Sure enough, wait long enough and the truth emerges:

A heavily censored series of summaries of meetings drafted by Foreign Affairs official Sam Hanson showed that Mr. Khan was told in meetings that Canada had lost credibility in the region because Mr. Harper's government had become too pro-Israel.
Mr. Hanson, the Foreign Affairs official who accompanied Mr. Khan on the trip, reported that several of the officials and academics they met - the precise source of each statement was censored - complained of a pro-Israel shift in Canadian policy.

"There was a consensus view that, diplomatically, Canada is well-placed to play a constructive role, but also that Canada's credibility in the region has recently been damaged by a perceived shift in Canadian rhetoric on the Middle East ..." Mr. Hanson wrote.

Uh huh - not surprising. When you have a hard line ideologue in control, they tend to blind to the problems that their decisions create - and Harper is not only the most rigid ideologue this nation has ever seen in the PMO, he's also about the most thin-skinned occupant of that office - possibly even making Brian Mulroney look positively hospitable to the press and critics. Might that play a role in the fate of Mr. Khan's report? Why yes, it does:

Mr. Harper's aides said the MP submitted a report to the Prime Minister from his 16-day, $38,000 trip with an aide and a bureaucrat, but Foreign Affairs access-to-information officers confirmed yesterday that no one in their department - which handles relations with the region - received it.

and ...

"The report would be critical of Mr. Harper's policies in the Middle East, and Mr. Harper doesn't want to share an adviser's report that would criticized his policies. And I believe that's purely a political consideration," Liberal foreign affairs critic Ujjal Dosanjh said.

The New Democratic Party's foreign affairs critic said she still doubts whether Mr. Khan completed a report, despite assertions by the Prime Minister's aides that one was submitted.

"If they intended for him to write a report in the first place, when they started to learn what he was hearing on this mission, they probably refused to let him write a report," Alexa McDonough said.

The denials from the Con$ aside, I'd put even money that Harper killed the report itself because it would have forced him to answer some pretty tough questions if it ever became public. (Which, I recall, was originally promised when Khan was appointed "special advisor")

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