Friday, March 06, 2009

Peter MacKay's "Red Dawn" moment not over

What was really behind Peter MacKay's "Red Dawn" Moment? David Pugliese with a few items of interest on the incident today:
Military folks I’ve talked to had a big laugh about how the news media fell for Mr. MacKay’s telling of the “incident.” They say the Russian flights have been a pretty regular occurrence since 2007 and of course a normal occurrence during the Cold War. In addition, the Russians provide advance warning of such flights although they don’t go into specific details; it’s all about testing flight crews on both sides.

Other military folks point out how they thought it was pretty interesting that the “incident” came to light only after a journalist with CTV asked Mr. MacKay about it. (you cynics out there will probably rehash that old wives tales about how CTV is so chummy with the Conservative government that it’s known on Parliament Hill as Tory TV….which of course would set off all kinds of whispering about this being a question planted by the Conservatives in order to get exactly the type of media coverage they received ).

Any ways, the Commons defence committee has been talking about inviting the Russian ambassador or military attaché to speak to MPs about this incident. “Something smells fishy here and it's not Arctic char,” the NDP’s Peter Julian said at a recent committee meeting.
I don’t think Mr. MacKay was counting on the vigorous defence the Russians have countered with. Essentially they have said the Defence Minister is full of it and that he is, for his own purposes, blowing this “incident” out of proportion. Canada, they say, was told in advance the aircraft were coming.
The Russians are also more than a little miffed since, as Mr. Mamedov pointed out, they have been helping the Canadian Forces with intelligence and other issues related to Afghanistan. The Russians have also supplied ammunition to JTF2. Mr. MacKay is well aware of this so the Russians are feeling a little bit burned about the very public thumping the minister has been giving them.
Giving military folks laughs, bringing on Commons committee witnesses, miffing the Russians...job well done for Mr. MacKay. Wonder how that NATO job thingy is going...