01.28.2015 08:23 AM

Go hard left, then go hard right

Either way, it’s veering all over the road.

The anti-terror legislation isn’t tabled, yet, so no one outside a small circle within the government actually knows what is in it. Even though I – along with Lloyd Axworthy, Bob Rae, Gen. Romeo Dallaire and many other Liberals – support the international effort against ISIS/ISIL, I’m not ready to support the government’s bill until I, you know, actually see it.

If all of this seems a bit familiar to you, it should. In 2003, Jean Chretien said “no” to Canadian involvement in George W. Bush’s misadventures in Iraq. Paul Martin objected to that, letting it be known that “Canada should be there” and Canada needed to “get over to Iraq as quickly as possible.” So, when the latter became Prime Minister, he sought to curry favour with the Americans by committing us to Kandahar. It was a costly decision.

Siding with the NDP on the war against terror in the Middle East, siding with the Conservatives on the war against terror back home: it recalls Tim Hudak’s promise to create a million jobs, and then fire 100,000 people. Among other things, that kind of politicking is confusing to voters.

On important stuff, like war and terrorism, it is important to be consistent. The Conservatives, for good or for bad, are being consistent with their values. So too the NDP, whether you agree with them or not.

The Liberals? Like I say, going from hard left to hard right isn’t a safe way to drive. It often results in you landing in a ditch.


  1. the salamander says:

    .. ‘Conservatives, for good or for bad, are being consistent with their values’
    Is it all just about election ? Power ? Blathering points ? Vague ideology ?
    Thought there was some sort of ‘public servant’ role involved
    as an MP.. and so on up the chain to the godliness of PM Harper
    and Ray Novak ….. you know.. responsible to the citizenry, voters

  2. ABoucher says:

    Reminds me of sage advice I received about dating in my younger days: When you try sitting on two chairs at once, you eventually end up with your tuchus on the ground

  3. Christian says:

    Wow. Just…….wow. Me thinks you dodged a bullet by being kept out of running in the next election Warren. You should thank Team Trudeau!

  4. Joe says:

    This is symptomatic of a party without a philosophical basis for its actions beyond being so power hungry it bases its positions on polls. While the Conservatives seem to be ahead in the polls because of their stance on security without seeing whats in the bill the Liberals look foolish by rushing to support it.

    • Tim White says:

      I’m really discouraged by JT and the Liberal Party although I’m trying very hard to like these guys. And I don’t like the Conservatives at all. And the NDP bugs me.

      So I am reduced to drinking Cheap Beer and listening to Fidlar who upon further reflection are indeed God like geniuses.

  5. Cyril says:

    Since we have the jihadi terrorist cancer within our midst and metastasising before our eyes, by necessity we will lose some of our privacy to ensure our security.

    It’s a clear and present danger that is presenting itself in Canada and anybody who complains about increased surveillance must inform what anti-terrorist measures should be taken to keep Canadians safe from terrorist attacks which we should expect.

    Personal privacy or collective security; that’s the issue.

    • ben burd says:

      Personal privacy or collective security; that’s the issue.

      Oh it’s the old “If you have nothing to hide what are you worried about in this legislation” mantra. We should be suspicious of anybody who mouths this crap.

    • MoS says:

      Have you dusted off your old Tom Clancey novels, Cyril? “Clear and present danger”? Where exactly? Jihadi terrorist cancer in our midst? Somebody planting IEDs on your block, Cyril or is somebody planting fearful notions in your mind? By the way, can you tell me how Harper is going to use his new and improved surveillance powers and just who is going to prevent him from using these powers to intimidate or suppress lawful, democratic dissent?

      The good thing about ISIS is that it finally has the Saudis wondering if they should really be supporting these shitheels as their proxies in their religious feud with Iran. The Saudis and the elite of the Gulf States have backed every one of these Sunni radical outfits going back to al Qaeda and, unless we find some way of deterring their lethal adventurism, they’ll probably back the next bunch to follow ISIS.

    • mikey says:

      Is that going to be Harper’s election platform; kill the jihadis in the ME so we won’t be attacked in Canada?
      I wonder how many Canadians will be panicked into voting Conservative rather than living in fear of the jihadi terrorists and how many will willingly abandon their personal privacy so the government can read their emails!
      Canadians seem to be on the climate change bandwagon and see it as a war to protect the environment, but now Harper is openly fearmongering and trying to make the war against ISIS our priority.
      Shrewd cynical politics and a winning political position that Canadians will back with their vote? I hope not.

  6. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Has the slight smack of perhaps the seniors within the caucus trying to get out in front of the leader?

    Gotta believe, on foreign affairs issues, some of those troops probably not very happy campers regarding the road they’re being led down.

  7. doconnor says:

    Warren’s supports the military involvement in Iraq, but may well oppose this legislation.

    Logically there is nothing wrong with supporting one, but opposing the other. They are quite different things.

    It is helpful if you have a rational justification for doing so, rather then just going with what you think will get the most votes at the time.

    Of course, votes have always counted for more then rational justifications anyway.

  8. wsam says:

    Trudeau should start by asking why Canada’s security services need more powers … the attacks in Ottawa and in Quebec were by individuals known to police. More surveillance most likely would not have made a difference.

    France and Australia have both admitted the police and security services screwed up vis-a-vis their recent terrorist attacks. In Canada no such admission has been made. Trudeau should focus on Harper’s deceit and evasiveness. They blantantly lied about the initial mission into Iraq and now the Conservatives are about to start lying about how the security services need more powers. Conservative lying is by now a pattern familiar to Canadians.

    Trudeau should then point out that neo-conservative bullshit is what led to ISIS and broader Middle Eastern chaos. Chretien’s refusal not to ‘Go-Along to Just to Get-Along’ spared Canada from being part of the Worst Foreign Policy Blunder in History. A Blunder which Harper and the Conservatives agressively supported. The Worst Foreign Policy Blunder in History. A blunder which strengthened Iran. Which helped spread Saudi Arabia’s disgusting brand of Islam. A blunder we are still living with and Harper is making worse.

    Trudeau then needs to start articulating a pragmatic, reality-based foreign policy for Canada. He needs to promote what in an earlier age would have been considered a traditional Conservative or Republican foriegn policy. Bush the Senior rather than Bush the Younger. Hard-nosed pragmaticism rather than radical fantasies based on air about Canada being an energy superpower, a loyal soldier in a some bow-tied think-tankers fever-dream of a neo-conservative global empire of domination. Conservatives are divorced from the actual reality Canada lives in. They don’t understand our context. Trudeau has to articulate that point. Make it clear.

  9. Joe says:

    “Trudeau should then point out that neo-conservative bullshit is what led to ISIS and broader Middle Eastern chaos. – See more at: http://warrenkinsella.com/2015/01/go-hard-left-then-go-hard-right/#comments“, hahahahahahahaha so are you here all week? Is the buffet good? Great comedy from every angle.

  10. doconnor says:

    “France and Australia have both admitted the police and security services screwed up vis-a-vis their recent terrorist attacks. In Canada no such admission has been made.”

    It seems the Canadian attackers never told anyone, so there was nothing to intercept.

  11. wsam says:

    Right. So why do the Security Services need more powers, presumably to snoop …

    Maybe what we need are more trained agents and better police work.

    Then Trudeau should put the mission against ISIS in context and use the opportunity to articulate a realist foreign policy for Canada.

  12. James Smith says:

    Interesting you choose to opine about Mr T wanting to make the best contribution, rather than the Present PM’s flip-flop.
    Given your former bosses distrust of the drumbeat for War I have to admit to a be a bit surprised at your take on the subject.
    But hey, that’s why I read this website; I may not agree (like now) but often something to think about.

  13. cgh says:

    Warren, I don’t agree with you about “currying favour”. Rather, I’d put it a different way. As CIGI notes, Canada had already rejected participation in Iraq and missile defence. At some point, you can’t keep rejecting options and still call yourself an ally even if the refusals were warranted in the national interest. Canada’s ability to say no to Khandahar had been foreclosed to some degree by previous refusals. But once the decision to commit was made, Hillier was undoubtedly right that a serious military commitment was necessary. There’s nothing worse than going in with a small, inadequate team incapable of defending itself. Almost as bad is being accused by your allies of tokenism.

    However, I agree with you strongly about veering all over the place. You can’t “approve” legislation before you’ve seen it. Second, the Liberals are being a bit hypocritical in this entire statement, given this gem from Wayne Easter: “barring a poison pill in the bill that will be unveiled Friday.” This suggests that the Liberals will approve or disapprove of the legislation purely on tactical political considerations rather than its merits. And they’re leaving themselves an out with which to do so. It’s long past time that the Party sat down and really had it out over what it believes in with respect to national defence, collective defence and the loose general topic of domestic and international terrorism. Because right now, it doesn’t have a coherent position, and it’s too serious a topic to invent on the fly.

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      “Invent on the fly” is, IMHO, what Trudeau has been doing…especially problematic because, arguably, he’s not terribly well informed on much of anything.

      Again, and considering Easter’s words, I’m wondering if a group of senior MPs isn’t being, shall I say, proactive in getting out in front of this legislation and Trudeau’s reaction to it.

      I’m beginning to wonder a lot about just how much Trudeau actually listens to his MPs (and party faithful), particularly those with considerable experience and long resumes within the LPC.

      Which I suspect is causing considerable gnashing of teeth behind closed doors.

      …and kinda reminds me of a time prior to Harper’s ascent to the helm of the CA, if you get my drift.

      • Terence Quinn says:

        How can JT be well informed when he is trying to get info from the most secretive government in the western world. hard to tell when the cons are lying or just spouting BS.

  14. wsam says:

    I think the actual reason Canada committed to Kandahar as opposed to other parts of Afghanistan was that we considered it one of the safer parts of the country. Which it was, at first, and then Kandahar became incredibly unsafe.

    Read this book:


    • cgh says:

      Not a chance. Kandahar was well known to be by far one of the most difficult and dangerous regions in Afghanistan along with Helmand Province. This was and still is the heartland of the Pashtun Tribe and the Taliban. It was the most difficult for the Soviets in the 1980s, and it was for us in the 2000s. There’s considerable evidence to show that Canada picked Kandahar because it was difficult. Certainly no one else was lining up to volunteer for this region. And it was where most of the major fighting against the Taliban took place.

      • davie says:

        I thought that on of our diplomats in Afghanistan lobbied effectively for Canadian military to be based in Kandahar. I think it was Alexander, the fellow who is not a federal cabinet minister.

      • wsam says:


        If you are interested you should read the book. The Unexpected War. By Janice Stien & Eugene Lang. The evidence is clear. Regarding Canada’s Afghanistan mission, the authors’ state: “Canada slipped into war in Afghanistan, step by step, incrementally, without fully understanding that it was going to war.“

        Former defence and foreign affairs minister Bill Graham is quoted as saying, “I think everybody was convinced that Afghanistan was a lot further down the road to recovery than it really was … We were probably drinking too much of our own bathwater.”

        Nobody anticipated the Taliban offensive of 2006. As the above quote demonstrates, Afghanistan was thought to be calming down, not heating up. Our mission in Khandhar went from difficult to very dangerous.

  15. Nicole says:

    This article focuses on Wayne Easter’s comments about the bill. Is this Trudeau’s position as well, or is Easter (and perhaps a few others) going rogue? The general public wants to hear the Liberal position on national security from its leader, and if Trudeau wants to establish any credibility on this issue, he will have to speak directly about this bill.

    I can’t imagine Trudeau is happy about this because it makes the Liberals look disorganized and wishy washy, which is the last thing he needs. And if there is infighting happening again, then the Liberals will only have themselves to blame if the election results are not what they anticipated.

    • Warren says:

      Wayne is an amazing guy. Don’t know why they didn’t just wait for the bill, though.

      • mikey says:

        Perhaps the Liberals didn’t wait for the bill because they wanted to be able to take the position that they agreed with the intent of the Bill in principle but not in practice the way the Bill is written. “Yes, we are in favour of protecting Canadian security but we don’t like how the Conservatives have crafted the Bill with draconian measures that most Canadians will not accept.”
        Bait and switch political manoevering? Why not.

  16. Peter says:

    Warren, I take it you have seen this from Mercer?


  17. debs says:

    what we need is politicians who think differently and get off the road completely:P stop driving the environment and the economy into the ditch and start helping folks.

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