Sunday, August 05, 2007

Prentice to replace O'Connor?

This is a huge story, less so for the content as the fact that 'senior government insiders' divulged the details.

Was this a leak or a deliberate attempt to gauge public reaction?

And who will replace Prentice in the very volatile Indian Affairs Ministry?

Interesting times.

21 comments:

Gabby in QC said...

I hope the story turns out to be untrue - only to have Craig Oliver with egg on his face, since he was/is SO sure that a cabinet shuffle is imminent, just as all the pundits were about a spring election, and PM Harper's wanting to engineer one, according to all the "experts."

Mr. O'Connor's "sin" is not having the gift of the gab and not giving the media what they hunger for - a sense of self-importance. He probably will be "shuffled" just as Rona Ambrose was to stop the jackals from continuing to hunt their weakened prey.

I hope Mr. Prentice remains in his present ministry, because he has shown an ability to handle that very sensitive portfolio.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, some are misinformed and are truly not paying attention - one thing to not have the gift of the gab and another to blatantly screw up.

My question - why wasn't Prentice not the leader of the party. Would have been much better than Harper IMHO.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

why wasn't Prentice not the leader of the party.

I'm sure he'll be the next leader of the CPC. Harper was the right man for the moment; bringing together both sides of the right into one cohesive family.

I'm looking forward to the fall to see what the new priorities are.

kursk said...

PM Harper is the best leader this country has had in 50 years.

We have been dulled with so much mediocrity in the form of leftist govts that sometimes it is a shock when someone good comes along..

dudley doright said...

Aside from the despicable leak from a “senior government insider” that Gordon O’Connor will be demoted from Minister of Defence to Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, I think there are 2 other very important issues here: one is the misleading reporting by CTV News, and the second is the inconsistent messaging from General Hillier, both of which have unjustifiably caused problems for Minister O’Connor.

CTV news, Sat. Aug. 4 2007: “Sources say the Prime Minister decided he had to shift O'Connor out of Defence after he gave an interview on CTV's Question Period two weeks ago, in which he suggested Quebec's famed Van Doos would spend their six-month mission in Afghanistan training Afghan army troops rather than fighting the Taliban.”

---------------------------------

Minister O’Connor did not say that the Van Doos would spend their six-month mission in Afghanistan training Afghan army troops "rather than fighting the Taliban". He said that the strategy all along was to bring the Afghan army in Kandahar province up to speed to allow them to eventually take over the operational role, and that during this transition, the Canadian army would still be involved in operations against the Taliban until some unspecified time in the future.

Watch the CTV video linked to their webpage - the words transcribed from it below may not be identical, but they are reasonably close:

http://tinyurl.com/ytswyb

Sun. Jul. 22 2007

CTV’s Graham Richardson: “Will the mission change or be tweaked in any way? Will there be fewer patrols given what Canadian forces are facing in the south?”

Minister O’Connor: “It was part of our plan to go through essentially a three stage transition. When we arrived in the south, because of the situation with the Taliban, and the situation with the Afghan army, there was very few of them, we had to take on the bulk of the fighting.

And in the last few months we took over sponsorship of one of the infantry battalions of the Afghan army. We’ve trained it to a very high level and it’s out there now conducting operations.

Over the next four or five months we’re going to be picking up four or five additional Afghan battalions to train and mentor and get them out into the field.

And were hoping that by the end of this rotation that’s going in now, the so-called Vandoos rotation, we’ll have about 3000 Afghan army operating within the Kandahar province.

As we train more and more of the Afghan army to carry out their own operations, we will continue to withdraw, train them, put more emphasis on training, and at some stage, basically be in reserve.

Graham Richardson: “If all goes according to plan, Canadians will be doing less of a combat role in the south, correct?”

Minister O’Connor: “That’s correct.”

-----------------------------------

Second, why did General Hillier change his position about the Afghan army from saying on July 12 that "I believe that by spring ... this organization will be very capable” to saying on July 29 that “that would be certainly a significant challenge for them”?

http://tinyurl.com/2d7pad


Jul 12, 2007 04:30 AM

"The focus goes from us in the lead with very little support until now from them to them in the lead," said Hillier, the chief of defence staff.
For the last six months, Canadians have worked with one of the battalions and the reports from the field are encouraging, Hillier said.
"This battalion has actually come an incredible long ways. Our soldiers were telling me it's like looking in a mirror and seeing their own tactics and drills and skills being implemented by these guys," he said.
Hillier had high praise for the Afghan troops, who he says have won the respect of local citizens.
"They're very professional. ... They've actually been very successful in most operations against the Taliban," he said.
"I believe that by spring ... this organization will be very capable. It won't be perfect. It won't be stand-alone. But it will be ready to help play a huge role that essentially has not been played at all until now by themselves," he said.

-----------------------------------

So on July 29, why did General Hillier appear to be back-pedalling on his comments only 2 weeks earlier that the Afghan army could take on a “huge role” by next spring?

http://tinyurl.com/2xs8ww

Sun. Jul. 29 2007
"We'd like to see that it was in that position to be able to do so by next February, but that would be certainly a significant challenge for them," said Hillier.
"We still don't have all the troops in the South, (but) we have a lot more than we did before. More are coming quite literally this week and more in the fall. But we've got a large training role to work to help them meet so they can be ready for operations, and whether that's February or March, it's hard to tell one specific date. We're working very hard at it because that's what we set out from the start."

It’s not Minister O’Connor that’s being inconsistent or unclear, it’s our loose cannon, General Hillier. Hillier does not set defence policy and he should be more careful with what he says in public.

dudley doright said...

Joanne asks: “Was this a leak or a deliberate attempt to gauge public reaction?”

CTV reported:

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper will demote embattled Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor in a cabinet shuffle expected in the week of August 13, senior government insiders told CTV News.” (my emphasis)

They told Robert Fife the decision has already been made, so if this turns out not to be the case, their credibility is shot, and so is Fife's for reporting it.

In my previous post I stated that CTV’s reporting on the Afghan mission was mis-leading. On closed examination, the mis-interpetation of Mr. O’Connor’s statements on the next phase of the mission could be either in the news report or in what the “senior government insiders” actually said:

Robert Fife wrote: “Sources say the Prime Minister decided he had to shift O'Connor out of Defence after he gave an interview on CTV's Question Period two weeks ago, in which he suggested Quebec's famed Van Doos would spend their six-month mission in Afghanistan training Afghan army troops rather than fighting the Taliban.” (my emphasis).

Minister O’Connor suggested no such thing. If you he said:

“As we train more and more of the Afghan army to carry out their own operations, we will continue to withdraw, train them, put more emphasis on training, and at some stage, basically be in reserve.”

This clearly means that Canadian forces’ withdrawl from leading the front line fighting to transferring this responsibility to the Afghan army would be gradual process.

If Robert Fife is reporting this accurately, it is his sources that are mis-interpreting what Gordon O’Connor said. Perhaps they are using this as an excuse to shuffle him, hoping that this inconsistency will go un-noticed.

On the other hand, Fife did not directly quote his anonymous sources, so perhaps there was some nuance in his translation?

In any case, I think it is despicable for these so-called “senior government insiders” to disclose what they claim is a decision already made in such a fashion. Fully a week before the cabinet is to meet, Gordon O’Connor and possibly Bev Oda have been informed not by the Prime Minister, but from a national news report reporting from anonymous "senior government insiders" that they are about to be shuffled.

Absolutely disgusting!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Dudley, thanks for doing all this research. We need to be vigilant about holding the media's feet to the fire, and you are sure doing your part.

I agree that the message is confusing and not handled properly. Somebody is in big trouble here. We'll keep watching this one.

Moebius said...

I think the PM has already telegraphed a shuffle, so don't be too surprised if it happens.

Prentice didn't run for leader, as far as I remember, so that's why he's not PM. He has a decent head on his shoulders, and might have the opportunity, in case of another minority.

Remember that Day is doing well as an MP, but terribly as leader. It's a different set of skills.

SH is a good, but not great PM. He would have been great had he not abandoned conservatism. Still better than the alternative, but if Dion is gone, the Libs will win a majority next election. You heard it here first.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

f Dion is gone, the Libs will win a majority next election.

I don't think Lorrie Goldstein would agree with you, Moebius.

Gabby in QC said...

"Obviously, some are misinformed and are truly not paying attention - one thing to not have the gift of the gab and another to blatantly screw up."

For someone who accuses others of being misinformed, I'm surprised you don't know that Mr. Prentice:
" ... ran in the 2003 Progressive Conservative leadership election to support the "United Alternative" proposal to merge the PC party with the Canadian Alliance. ... A basic platform of Prentice's campaign was that "no one has ever defeated the Liberals with a divided conservative family." ... Prentice ultimately emerged in second-place on the fourth ballot to the eventual winner MacKay."

Gabby in QC said...

Congratulations, Dudley Doright, for all that documentation.
It is reassuring to see that some people verify the "facts" presented by all those dispensers of truth - the media.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Dudley Do-right to the rescue!

You knew I wouldn't be able to resist that one, right?

Anonymous said...

As soon as this story came out I had a feeling it was MSM fluff.Taber,Oliver,Fife and Richardson have been playing this game for too long.Twisting spinning,hinting and now this.Thank you DD for putting this all together.Hopefully the PMO will tackle this head on.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Anon, check out my latest post for today.

Anonymous said...

Yes J...and CTV poll suggests "O'Connor should have been 'demoted' sooner".
Libs don't need to get any more seats in the HoC...they have the MSM doing the job of 'official opposiition.'
Does mainstream Canada actually pay attention to mainstream media?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Does mainstream Canada actually pay attention to mainstream media?

If Canadians do pay attention, I hope they do it with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Anonymous said...

If I know Steve, I'm betting he'll do something unconventional in his shuffle just to get under the msm's skin even more.

Count on the moonbats at CTV to be shocked and critical of whatever Harper chooses to do.

They are after all the opposition party's opposition media doing their job of opposing all that Harper does.

I truly believe that the one thing educated, connected individuals hate more than entitled Liberals are entitled Liberal media.

westcoastcats

Moebius said...

Joanne,

I would agree with Dion's intelligence, and I give him a lot of credit and respect for fighting separatists on intellectual turf.

However, what makes him unelectable is his lack of presence, and his association with the old regime and Adscam. I suspect that he will have trouble in English debates, due to language, and inability to quickly rebut on problem issues. Unfair, but that's politics.

He's also positioned himself on the left of a lot of Canadians, and allowed SH to claim the middle (much to my chagrin).

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Moebius, I think the CPC would be very wise not to underestimate Dion.

Moebius said...

I think the CPC should continue labelling Dion as a non-leader, but otherwise, unless he's replaced, a minority or possibly a majority will result.

Folks like me, who are disillusioned with the lack of conservatism of Mr. Harper are not likely to vote for anyone to the left of him, are we? We may abstain, or protest-vote the Greens, but are not going to vote Lib. SH knows this, and will take advantage of it.

Don't forget, you and I once voted NDP in Ontario!...and not because we were sold on their policies.

Babbling Brooks said...

Second, why did General Hillier change his position about the Afghan army from saying on July 12 that "I believe that by spring ... this organization will be very capable” to saying on July 29 that “that would be certainly a significant challenge for them”?

Dudley Doright, you're misrepresenting Hillier's position here.

In the Campion-Smith interview, Hillier said that the Afghan army in Kandahar would be "very capable" come springtime, but "not stand-alone."

In the Craig Oliver interview, what you're missing - intentionally or not - is Oliver's question to Hillier: "It sounds to me like you’re saying that by next February the Afghan army will not be in a position to take over the main burden of fighting in their own country.” Hillier's answer to that question is completely consistent with what he said to Campion-Smith: the Afghans will be much better, but not stand-alone.

It’s not Minister O’Connor that’s being inconsistent or unclear, it’s our loose cannon, General Hillier. Hillier does not set defence policy and he should be more careful with what he says in public.

In this particular case, neither man was inconsistent, although O'Connor's prediction of 3000 trained Afghan troops in Kandahar by the end of this roto is...optimistic...at best.

Calling Hillier a loose cannon just to take some heat off a politician on your team is weak, though. O'Connor isn't under the gun because of anything Hillier has said or done, he's under the gun because while he's obviously a good and decent man, he's not a very good politician.