09.29.2014 05:18 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: Chickens R Us

What’s that old line? That “the better part of valour is discretion”?

Something like that. The author of said line was William Shakespeare, naturally; Falstaff uttered it after pretending to be dead on the battlefield, in Henry IV. It reminds us that Bill remains, hands-down, the originator of all the best political truisms.

It also demonstrates that “discretion,” in this context, can be synonymous with cowardice. Cowardice is arguably what comes to mind, this week, as we survey comings and goings (mainly goings) on Parliament Hill.

All three political parties are guilty of putting discretion before valour, in recent days. The NDP (in particular) and the Liberals (to a far lesser extent) for their half-pregnant position on the war against ISIS. The Conservatives, meanwhile, look like cowardly lions because a record number of their caucus are waddling towards the exits to, ahem, “spend more time with their family.”

“Spend more time with my family” ranks right up there with the three other great all-time whoppers: (i) “I’ll respect you in the morning” (ii) “the cheque’s in the mail” and (iii) “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

A score of Conservatives MPs, their gold-plated Parliamentary pensions now secured by six years of sterling service as trained seals, have decided to depart before the next federal election. In total, 21 Conservative MPs – including a third of all Alberta Tory MPs – have chosen discretion over valour. For those who ponder such things, that’s a whopping 15 per cent of their caucus.

That’s a lot, considering that only four New Democrat and four Liberal Parliamentarians aren’t running again.

Asked why he was hitting the road, Perth-Wellington Tory MP Gary Schellenberger invoked that hoary old chestnut, spending more time with his family. He’d “missed a lot of birthday parties,” Schellenberger told the Stratford Beacon Herald. Gotcha.

Actually, truth be told, a lot of us are wondering if Gary wants to avoid another kind of “party” – the hanging kind. You know, the one taking place at or around the time of the next general election, when Justin Trudeau may be giddily eviscerating the Conservative Party, as Jean Chretien did in 1993.

To be fair, however, it’s not just craven Conservatives who are choosing discretion over valour. Some New Democrats are looking decidedly spineless, too, in another context: the necessary war against the serial murderers who make up ISIS, now raping, murdering and beheading their way across Syria and Iraq.

“It’s hard to see how we can support the government,” said the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, Paul Dewar. “We couldn’t get behind the kind of ill-defined combat mission these guys are talking about so far.”

If that sounds rather like Neville Chamberlain to you, you’re not alone. The timorous Dippers are being sophists. Military action against ISIS – which no less than a unanimous Security Council has agreed! – is what is needed, and needed now. It is not a case of “supporting the government,” as Dewar disingenuously suggests, but actually a case of joining the civilized world in opposing organized barbarism on a historic scale.

And is war “ill defined”? Yes, of course. Wars, typically, are not mapped out in neat sequential steps. They are messy. And the NDP is engaging in the worst kind of dishonesty to avoid, you know, actually making a decision.

The Liberal position on the war against ISIS, fronted by an actual decorated former military man, Marc Garneau, was not nearly as gutless as Dewar and Co. “Let’s see what the government actually proposes…and then we’ll make a decision,” Garneau said to CTV on Sunday.

That’s fair, but it shouldn’t be construed as an actual position. Some day soon, the Liberals will need to stand with either the Tories or the Dippers. They can’t equivocate.

In the meantime, however, it is Fall in Ottawa – where the leaves are red and yellow.

And, where not a few of the MPs are looking a bit yellow, too.


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    Brad says:

    Another with us or against moment is coming from the CPC. Oppose sending troops, well then you are with the terrorists.

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    MississaugaPeter says:

    Don’t be too harsh on the Alberta MPs. It is quite the distance and even a seal needs new surroundings. If they are not ministers yet, they probably never will be. Plus the pension (which almost all of them are entitled to) and/or severance is pretty good.


    Better they quit now then force a costly by-election later.

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    davie says:

    I wouldn’t mind if some NDPers would ask a few questions in parliament on Islamic State (or whatever they are marketed as this week).
    Some rebel groups, comprised of many foreigners to Syria, were given resources of all kinds to fight Assad’s regime after Syrians began to fight back against Assad regime brutality. We gave the those resources. Some of those outsider rebel groups turned out to be attacking civilians in a manner even more brutal than the Assad regime forces displayed. No problem.
    When it began to look as if an outside rebel group launched a false flag sarin gas attack on civilians to justify a western attack on the Assad regime, the matter was dropped. No problem.
    A rebel group that was committing atrocities in Syria began to operate in Iraq, committing atrocities there on people not of their sect. No problem.

    Then the rebel group, apparently enjoying some support from the repressed Sunni in Iraq, threatened, and then took some Kurd controlled oil facilities. Whaoh! Big problem! They are selling oil at half price. What barbarians! What less than human things! A global threat unlike any we have ever seen before! Come on, everyone,…let’s get them.
    So, first question, How is it that these guys committed atrocities and it was no problem until they successfully attacked some oil facilities?

    Second, if these characters are a global threat unlike any we have seen before, How is it the BRICS nations did not move on them?

    Third, if these characters are a global threat unlike any we have seen before , who is it we have sent only a few dozen uniforms to ‘advise?’

    We bombed them.
    They replied with a video designed to drive us nuts…perhaps other than our ally in this that beheaded several dozen people this past year.
    We bombed them some more.
    They replied with another video.

    So, final question I have in this round is, Have the media and political leadership in the west ever conned us before into standing by and allowing our military to do things to people on the other side of the planet?

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      davie says:

      …oh, and since Neville Chamberlain’s role in this movie has been assigned, could we get a peak at who gets to play Hitler, and, above all, who gets to play Winston?

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    que sera sera says:

    “…………which no less than a unanimous Security Council has agreed!”

    How is it that the UN Security Council’s thoughts on the matter have more validity now than they did when the international war criminals Bush & Blair launched their prior illegal war in the Middle East?

    You remember that war, eh. The one that killed approximately 650,000 Iraqi civilians ………. men, women & children bombed by the West for their own good – “to help” them, to “liberate” them.

    The war that alerted Muslims that the West’s interest in their country extends only to their oil reserves & not their people. And how’s that working out so far?

    This war is so fucking wrong. It’s not a surprise that Canada has become America’s bitch under Harper’s toxic & regressive “leadershit”.

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      Steve T says:

      Just to be clear – you are saying that a miltary offensive against ISIS is wrong. Is that your position? And what would be your proposed solution to dealing with their, um, “activities” in the Middle East?

      Wait, let me guess – a blistering assault of tut-tutting, expressions of “concern”, and economic sanctions (against whom, we’re not quite sure, since ISIS isn’t a government). Oh, and a fresh round of blamestorming that places every beheading, rape, and murder squarely at the feet of the Evil West. Heck, if it wasn’t for the Evil West, the entire globe would be singing kumba-ya and frolicking in their peaceful glory.


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        davie says:

        Yeah, I guess we wouldn’t want to take the approach we take toward atrocities in the Congo.

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      JH says:

      BBBBut how can this be? Obama’s all about hope and change right, everybody’s darling and a Nobel Peace Prize winner? And wasn’t that a Liberal Leader and his cohorts, scampering out to the Ottawa airport to kiss his ring not so long ago and bragging about how tight they were? And wasn’t that the media saluting the closeness of Demoratic and Liberal party ideology as if it was the second coming? Now he’s personal non grata with you folks? Lord, I need a score card to keep up with some of you.
      And BTW WK I doubt you’ve seen the end of resignations by MPs of all parties. I think you are only watching the beginning.

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:


        Quite obviously we’re not talking Kosovo and Serbia here. Nor are we talking about the air power folly otherwise known as Libya. Obama is not quite up to par on these issues.

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    e.a.f. says:

    A war against ISIS, right. Let the middle east fight their own war. If they need help, fine, we can look into it. Right now its all about the west fighting the war against ISIS. One could say the west has done enough for the middle east. A lot of people who were in the Armed Forces of Canada, USA., G.B., etc got killed. The veterans in some countries were neglected and their needs never meet. Yes, we got rid of Sad. Huss. but really, why was that so special. After the billions/trillions spent in Afghanistan, how many more women are actually going to school and have personal freedom. Not that many, not for what it cost everybody else. It was U.S.A. and G.B.’s scam/scheme, and what did it get the middle east, a ruined country, a ruined economy, a lot of dead people, and Oh, It got them ISIS. Now isn’t that swell. What it got the west was some great sales in arms. Killer stock everyone should buy at the rate war is being advocated.

    The NDP may have made the best choice. These little excursions into war haven’t turned out so well for the people fighting them, our economies, the countries they are fought in, etc. True, ISIS isn’t a nice group and yes they go around beheading people but the last time I checked the other middle eastern countries beheaded people also. Hello Saudi Arabia, they still doing public executions these days? The rest of the oil rich countries aren’t doing so hot in human rights, women’s rights, etc. so what really makes them so different from ISIS. O.K. ISIS doesn’t do receptions or have nice embassy’s but are they really so different than North Korea. Of course North Korea doesn’t have any oil the west wants and it is protected by China.

    ISIS is a bunch of nasty little murderers, but then so are a whole lot of other groups and world leaders.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Chicken speaking — revolted by results of previous American adventures with troops on the ground. Hall of honour members: Somalia, a complete basket case; Iraq, an unmitigated disaster — 13 years later, Afghanistan, a house of cards in search of a good Taliban wind.

    Now, get this, defeating ISIL with not a single U.S. combat boot on the ground. Yeah, right. Meanwhile, Canadian citizens will pay the awful price, internationally or domestically.

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