Thursday, February 11, 2010

The politics of intimidation

This PMO really needs some adult supervision. Caught this item in the Globe yesterday about Professor Amir Attaran hitting back at the PMO over talking points issued about him. Attaran, you see, had the temerity to share his knowledge on Canadians' rights abroad with a Liberal sponsored panel this past week. Professor Errol Mendes has also come under fire for having attended at the informal meeting of the Afghan Special Commons committee last week. Both are respected academics whose views are not partisan but are grounded in the law.

The Conservative talking points on Attaran read that Attaran had accused Canadian troops of war crimes. He didn't. A statement that he made on the issue of war crimes was instead twisted into a Harper troop-shield p.r. special.

Similarly, Mendes was the object of an attempt at marginalization last week by a Conservative spokesperson Fred DeLorey. For his appearance at the Afghan committee meeting, Mendes was framed as a Liberal, as if his views would be less persuasive, relevant or correct as a result of a supposed partisan affiliation. A Conservative Senator has even gotten in on the act, writing letters to the editor across the country about Mendes. Here's another one.

The Conservatives should have the decency to have their Afghan committee members show up at that committee and engage in the substance with these thought leaders. Instead, they hide behind PMO talking points. These professors are not politicians. They are respected individual academics that our Prime Minister's Office should not be targeting with talking points in an effort to discredit their views. They share their expertise willingly, not for personal aggrandizement or enrichment. To have the machinery of the PMO and the Conservative party used against them is a blatant and inappropriate exercise of intimidation tactics.

Update: In the Star this morning, more of the politics of intimidation. The PMO also going after the TD Bank President in the same manner as above. The Star report also makes note of a similar attack on former Finance Department official Scott Clark last week. Read Ignatieff's comments there as well about some persons not wanting to attend such roundtables due to these kinds of attacks. Welcome to Harper's Canada.