Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What a dumb political move by the Conservatives

I have been watching the Conservatives' reaction to the detainee scandal with a critical eye since Mr. Colvin made his first statements in front of a Parliamentary Committee. Since that time they have had failed strategy after failed strategy and they have forgotten one of the axioms of politics.

It is not the crime that will get you it is the cover up.

I happen to agree with the Conservatives to a certain extent that Canadians will not get too worked up if it is proven that Canadian troops handed over Afghan detainees for potential torture. You see, Canadian are reasonable people who do not believe the troops or the government are evil or condone torture. The Conservatives should have realized that early on and came right out and admitted that the original agreement regarding Afghan detainees was woefully inadequate which probably lead to some Afghans being handed over to Afghan authorities who might have tortured or abused them. With a large dollop of mea culpa they could have admitted they dropped the ball on this file but they did eventually get around to fixing it.

Certainly the usual suspects would have condemned the government but that could have easily been dismissed as partisan politics and all of the revelations that we have been seeing in the last few weeks would have had less of an impact as Canadians would already have known that the government made mistakes.

Instead of course, the Conservatives have lied, obfuscated, smeared and otherwise did the opposite of what I suggested above. The result, weeks of bad press. Being placed in the position of being seen to defy the will of Parliament and being forced to consider Proroguing Parliament once again.

What a mess for the Conservatives.

The Conservatives made the mistake of making this whole scandal about what they are covering up and the lengths they are willing to go to cover whatever it is they are covering. That has the potential to be extremely damaging to the Conservatives and perversely their efforts have reached a point where the honest course is no longer viable. They are going to have to continue trying to cover up their actions and each day, week and month that they do so is like an acid dripping on their credibility.

It is ironic, if the Conservatives would have made this scandal exclusively about torture it would have probably gone away by now or at least been less toxic. Instead it has become about their credibility and it will not be going away any time soon, regardless of whether we have a new Parliament in the New Year or not.

As an aside, if Mr. Harper does Prorogue Parliament in the New Year he will get away with it in the short-term. It will be up to the Opposition to try to make it harm them in the medium to long-term.


Blogger Frankly Canadian said...

I agree, this issue is now about Steven Harpers ability to mis-manage plain and simple.

December 22, 2009 11:37 PM  

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