Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Prime Minister's truthiness at issue

Remember this little Star report on August 19th this past summer on the Suaad Hagi Mohamud case, the Canadian who was stranded in Kenya for three months: "Harper catching up on details." The Prime Minister publicly proclaimed himself an innocent waif in the government's failure to aid this Canadian citizen through the summer. And his people put out the word that "heads could roll" once they got to the bottom of how the highly embarrassing case had been handled. Here's what the Star reported on August 19:
Harper suggested he became aware of the case only last week, even though her well-publicized plight of being stuck in Kenya had begun 11 weeks earlier.

"When we became aware of the case last week, we asked our officials in various departments to give us some information," Harper said at a news conference yesterday. "Obviously there (is) some troubling information here. It's a complex case. I have asked my officials for a thorough review of the matter ... (then) we'll decide what further inquiry we do have to do."

The case has become a major embarrassment for the Conservatives amid criticism that the government is slow to assist Canadians in trouble abroad.

Privately, officials say the Prime Minister is upset at how the case has been handled and that "heads could roll" once the internal review is finished.
Now we get the predictable part, it has unfolded that the highest levels of government were actually quite informed of the Mohamud case:
June 5, 2009 - First media inquiries made concerning Ms. Mohamud’s arrest.
The Privy Council Office and Minister Cannon’s Director of Communications approve media messaging provided by a spokesperson for DFAIT. [LIB-6, 7]
DFAIT agrees to give a “heads up” to the Canada Border and Services Agency (CBSA), headed by Hon. Peter Van Loan. [LIB-5]
July 1, 2009 - Cannon’s Director of Communications sends two “urgent” emails – at 8:57 AM and 9:14 AM – asking for media lines for the Prime Minister in response to a Toronto Star article that morning. Later that same morning, the Prime Minister held a media event on Parliament Hill as part of the Canada Day celebrations. [LIB-14,18]

July 2, 2009 - The Privy Council Office once again approves media messaging following inquiries from the Toronto Star, CBC and others. [LIB-19] (emphasis added)
Bit of a credibility problem for the boss, isn't it? He claimed on August 19th that "...we became aware of the case last week." The evidence coming to light suggests otherwise and it strains credulity to believe what the Prime Minister said. The posturing in late August doesn't hold up so well when you see the scrambling behind the scenes that was going on.

Ethical tone starts at the top, that's a big part of the problem with this government.