The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Sunday, April 02, 2006

NDP's not-so-secret Afghanistan debate agenda

Psst. They want a debate on Afghanistan. Pass it on.

What? It's not a secret?

That's what you think.

There's more than one secret behind the debate.

The first secret was let out of the bag Thursday in a op-ed piece in the Winnipeg Sun by perennial protestor Nick Ternette. He wrote objecting to a letter writer who called anti-war protestors 'pro-terrorist.'

But what Ternette wrote next unveilled what the left really thinks about the military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, something you won't hear in a debate in Parliament.

"for us to support a "puppet" government that would collapse if American and Canadian troops left Afghanistan where "democracy" and the Muslim religion are totally incompatible, is unconsionable."

"Women are oppressed under Muslim law, Muslims who convert to Christianity are threatened with death, gays and lesbians would be stoned if they exposed themselves, and warlords and criminals are in control of rural Afghanistan.

And this is what we want Canadian troops to die for? "

You can agree or disagree with his argument, but you have to give Ternette full credit for having the guts to go public with his opinion.

Democracy and Islam are oil and water, he says. Muslims (in Afghanistan and Iraq at least) are too medieval and barbaric to be worth the effort. Only the deluded political right believes in the transformative power of democracy. The political left, as voiced by Ternette, believes we should abandon Muslims to their fate. We should not waste money which could be better spent on social programs in Canada, and we should not risk the deaths of Canadian soldiers for a lost cause.

NDP leader Jack Layton, who plans to move a motion to debate Canada's role in Afghanistan, still invokes democracy in Muslim nations as a good thing. Here's his latest statement following the death of a Canadian soldier in action in Afghanistan:

"The loss of private Costall further reminds us of the grave danger that Canadian personnel face in the pursuit of democracy, justice and peace, in Afghanistan and around the world. On behalf of all New Democrats, I extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Private Costall. Also in our thoughts and prayers are those soldiers injured, as well as all members of the Canadian Forces."

Of course what's missing from the statement is that the first order of business for the NDP in the next Parliament is to ask for an emergency debate into a deal signed during the election campaign that calls for terror suspects captured by Canadian troops to be turned over to the Afghan authorities.

"It's going to be important for the government to bring forward the agreement so that all Canadians could be aware of it and [so] that we can know we won't get tied up in some of the mistreatment of detainees that we've been hearing about in recent months," NDP Leader Jack Layton said on CTV's Question Period.

Got that? The most important thing for the NDP is to make sure that the people killing Canadian soldiers get as much protection as the NDP can arrange.

When Gen. Rick Hillier described the forces that oppose the NATO mission in Afghanistan as detestable murderers and scumbags Jack Layton called the remarks said "disconcerting."

Now , the NDP wants to bestow their most enobled status on the Taliban---that of victim.

Never mind that the only right the Taliban fighters want is the right to kill anyone who not a Muslim. The NDP will take it upon themselves to protect and defend Taliban terrorists from "mistreatment." By whom? We'll get to that in a moment.

The NDP motion is only the opening for a wide-ranging debate in the House. The news media refer to the debate often, but rarely answer the question: debate what?

The Black Rod has mined the statements by pundits and politicians to answer that question.

Layton says "all of the issues" should be discussed regarding the mission, including:

* the role of Canadian troops,

* their relationship to American operations in Afghanistan,

* the length of the mission and its cost.

Toronto Star columnist Jim Travers has his own list:

* Is this a war that can be won?

* Among failing states, is Afghanistan more important to Canada than, say, hemispheric neighbour Haiti?

* Does fighting in Kandahar really make North America more secure?

* Are Canadians content prisoners will be treated humanely?

* Can the military advance economic, social and political development while taking sides in, essentially, a civil war?

And back when Paul Martin was still Prime Minister, Layton said:

* "We believe the prime minister owes Canadians an explanation of the goals of this mission, of the commitments we would be making and of what the withdrawal plan there would be."

Phew. That's a lot to talk about. If that's what they wanted to talk about. But it's not.

That's the other secret of the debate.

The NDP let their secret slip during---the debate on Afghanistan.

The one in November, that is. The one that Jack Layton couldn't be bothered to attend.

In that debate, the NDP was represented by Manitoba MP Bill Blaikie.

Here's how Blaikie phrased the same questions the NDP say they now plan to ask:

"We have a growing sense of unease about whether in our eagerness, which may well be justified, to combat terrorism we are sacrificing a Canadian tradition with respect to international law that we will rue being exposed to erosion in this way."

The NDP is uneasy about fighting terrorism aggressively.

"Photographs, news reports and official investigations into abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba indicate that, at best, the U.S. military has failed to educate its soldiers about human rights and international humanitarian law. At worst, the revelations suggest a policy of law-breaking that extends all the way up the chain of command, to the Secretary of Defence and perhaps the commander-in-chief himself."

Got it yet? The Taliban suicide bombers who murder innocent civilians in Afghanistan and who kill and maim Canadian soldiers have to be protected from the evil Americans, whose President is a war criminal.

While Jack Layton hasn't openly expressed Nick Ternette's opinion that Canada should abandon the Afghani people, he has openly endorsed Blaikie's anti-Americanism.

"Canadians need to have a debate on whether they want Canadian service personnel to become deeply involved in an initiative that's pressed forward by (U.S. President) George Bush," Layton said at a campaign stop in St. John's, Newfoundland during the election campaign.


Blaikie's contempt for Canada's military is no secret. Here's just a sampling of his remarks during the November debate:

"This, in spite of agreement at the beginning of this parliament that the government's decision on this would be debated and voted on. Liberal reluctance to keep this promise, enshrined in an amendment accepted by all during the debate in reply to the Speech from the Throne, is, unfortunately, just one more example of the secrecy, non-transparency, and contempt for Parliament that permeates the culture of DND, the military, and the Liberal hierarchy."

"Heaven only knows what is really going on in other parts of our military, like JTF-2, which has been described by Peter Worthington as 'a small, secret army within the army,' the existence of which is arguably undemocratic and dangerous to the best elements of our military ethos."

And this is how Blaikie expressed the NDP's position on Afghanistan to The Hill Times(September 26, 2005):

What are the rules of engagement?
What are the American administration's expectations, going back to an earlier controversy, of Canadian troops viz-a-viz the handing over of insurgents etc. to the U.S. for destinations like Guantanamo Bay, the Bermuda triangle of international law.
Will we who have been recently on the receiving end of their disregard for international law, albeit in the quite different context of environmental and economic law, i.e. the IJC and NAFTA, will we be turning a blind eye if the same American exceptionalism is applied to Geneva conventions.
And why have Canadian companies apparently been denied contracts for support of the Canadian troops in Afghanistan, in favour of American companies.


As a good socialist, he had to thrown in a littler protectionism, didn't he.

Blaikie's anti-American credentials go way back. When he ran for the leadership of the NDP in 2003 he brought the convention to its feet with his declaration that "Bush wants to kill as many Iraqi children as possible for oil."

Children have been killed in Iraq.

Dozens of Children Killed in Iraq Attack
Washington Post Friday, October 1, 2004; Page A01
BAGHDAD, Oct. 1 -- The wails echoed off the tile surfaces of the emergency room at Yarmouk Hospital.
Amid the blood and stretchers, Majeed Aboud turned his tear-stained face to the body of his 5-year-old son, Mohammad, one of at least 34 children killed when a car bomb exploded as they gathered around U.S. soldiers handing out candy and cakes in a southern Baghdad neighborhood.

Iraqi children killed in car bomb

Guardian Wednesday July 13, 2005
A suicide car bomber exploded his vehicle near US troops and a crowd of children in Baghdad today, killing 27 people and wounding at least 67 more, according to Iraq's interior ministry.
A duty policeman at the Kindi hospital said 25 bodies and 25 wounded had arrived there.
"Most of them are children," he said. The US military said one of its soldiers was among those killed and three were injured.

Six police slain in separate attacks
ASSOCIATED PRESS February 15, 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A bomb exploded Wednesday on a central Baghdad street, killing three girls and a boy walking to school, police and relatives said. The dead included two sisters and their brother. Police said the children were between the ages of 10 and 14 and included two sons and a daughter of Jamil Mohammed, a poor vendor who works in a nearby public market.


Scores killed in Iraqi bombings
21 April, 2004, BBC
A series of bomb attacks in the Basra area of southern Iraq has killed at least 68 people and injured many more.
The first blasts - apparently suicide bombings - occurred outside three police stations in Basra city centre during Wednesday's morning rush hour. Many of the dead and injured were children travelling in passing buses on their way to school.
A wounded Iraqi told Reuters news agency that he heard a huge explosion as he stood at the door of his house.
"I saw a minibus full of children on fire - 15 of the 18 passengers were killed and three badly wounded."

Funny, isn't it, how Bill Blaikie doesn't find the slaughter of children in Iraq by Islamic terrorists worthy of comment or condemnation? He saves that for the United States.

And that's why the NDP wants a debate on Afghanistan. So they can attack the U.S., and, by association, the Conservatives who support the war on terror.

People may ask the obvious question. Why? Why this blind hatred of the U.S.?

The answer is just as blindingly obvious.

The U.S. is the most successful capitalist country in the world. The NDP and the anti-war left (led by Communists ) is opposed to capitalism of the American variety.

In fact, their very sense of self is threatened by American success. If the U.S. succeeds in defeating terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, and introduces a healthy capitalism into those regions, then it means the socialists have lost again; the U.S. was right and the left was wrong---again. Wasn't the fall of the Soviet Union enough? Do you have to rub it in?

So who wants a debate on Afghanistan?

- The Liberals committed Canada's armed forces. Do they now think they were wrong?
- The Conservatives supported the mission then and still do.
- The Bloc Quebecois is devoted to breaking up the country, and has no credibility in defining Canada's foreign policy.
- That leaves only the NDP, a left wing pressure group with no representation in most of the country.

It's not what they want to debate. It's why. They'll pay lip service to bringing democracy to Afghanistan, but they'll turn the country back the Taliban in a minute if they can score anti-American points.

That's the secret. Pass it on.

********************

After the last edition of The Black Rod, we got a response from Nick Ternette. With his permission we agreed to run it today.

Dear Black Rod,

Concerning your e-mail. For someone who takes pride in being an accurate "blogger" I would suggest you be more accurate.

1) Both the National Post and the Globe and Mail did not suggest that the anti-war campaign was "driven by left over hippies who were trying to relive their anti-Vietnam protest days". They were talking about the sputtering anti-war movement in the U.S. which, if and when the draft is re-instituted (when the U.S. invades Iran), would ensure a significant surge in the ant-war movement both in the U.S. and in Canada.

2) Your comments concerning the barely 200 "anti-everything" marchers sounds like a rip-off from a right wing columnist in the National Post. While it is true that 7,000 Winnnipeg protesters turned out 3 years ago, the average ant-war demonstration in Winnipeg has been about 200.

3) I thought that "red baiting" had gone out the window after the collapse of the Soviet Union. While Darrell Rankin is the leader of the Communist Party in Manitoba, and Glenn Michalchuk did run for office OVER A DECADE AGO for the Marxist-Leninists, each of them has only one vote in the No War Coalition which is dominated by social democrats, Christians, pacifists and anarchists.

For your own information, the Manitoba Communist Party has been involved in the peace movement for over 50 years in Winnipeg (Doreen Plowman, former Communist in Winnipeg, received an award from the YM/YWCA for 50 year of activism). To suggest that we ought to discriminate against communists, Marxists, and anarchists because of their history would undermine the peace movement - where anyone who believes in "peace" is welcome to participate, regardless of their politics.

4) Nothing in your snapshot concerning the Iraqi documents indicates that, IN FACT, the Al Qaida organization was asked to set up operation in Iraq and carry out operations outside of Iraq. Everyone is aware that there were negotiations between Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden at different times, but ultimately, Al Qaida was never allowed to operate out of Iraq.

5) To suggest that the Winnipeg Free Press and/or the Winnipeg Sun are "anti-Bush" is a joke. Every editorial in both papers is so pro-Bush, it's an unbelievable bias.

Sincerely,
Nick Ternette

Our response: Bin Laden was conducting terrorist actions around the world and Saddam was playing footsie with him under the table knowing full well he was a terrorist. That's news. We gave the Free Press almost a week to report this news.

Instead, they preferred to carry a story about an anti-Bush vote in Vermont. That's choice.
They could have run both. They didn't. That's bias.

It proves they are not independent professional journalists who just report "the news" regardless of the spin. Is there a gap between the editorial pages and the news pages? Read "The Peter Kent Challenge" series in The Black Rod.

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