A fearless prediction: at least one of the two Liberal attack ads featured on the front page of the Globe and Mail yesterday will never appear again.
It’s the ad attacking Stephen Harper for urging Canada to jump into the war in Iraq. And it’s just plain indefensible — not because it’s inaccurate (it isn’t) but because it’s stunningly hypocritical.
Here’s the ad:
“In 2003, Stephen Harper urged Canada to join the U.S. invasion of Iraq,” the on-screen text reads as the sound of machine-gun fire and fighter jets plays in the background.
“He said, ‘There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein operates programs to produce weapons of mass destruction.’
“If Stephen Harper was prime minister last year, Canadians would be in Iraq this year,” it reads.
“Choose wisely. Choose Paul Martin and the Liberals.”
Yuh-huh. Now here’s Paul Martin a year ago:
“I don’t think there is any doubt about just how evil Saddam Hussein is. I don’t think there is any doubt, if there ever was — and certainly there was none as a result of the discoveries of last week — that he does have weapons of mass destruction.” (National Post, March 7, 2003, page A7)
As the ad says, “Oops.” And here’s Martin’s shiny new defence minister, David Pratt, back when he was just another Martin supporter sniping at Jean Chr?©tien from the back benches:
“We were prepared to say, ‘If the UN doesn’t approve military action in Iraq then we’re not going.’ I think that’s an abdication of national responsibility.” (Ottawa Citizen, January 15, 2003, page A1)
“We seem to bend over backwards to differentiate ourselves from the Americans on international issues… What right to do we have to make any criticisms of American foreign policy when we don’t accept the costs of pulling our weight?” (Kingston Whig-Standard, January 17, 2003, page 10)
“I think it’s unfortunate that this is the first time where the Australians and the British and the Americans have been involved in a conflict that we haven’t as Canadians.” (Edmonton Journal, March 24, 2003, page A4)
None of this is to say that Harper isn’t being particularly weaselesque as he now tries to make the case that, yes, he wanted Canada to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq but heavens, no, he didn’t mean by committing troops.
“I was thinking more like sending, you know, muffins and cookies and letters saying ‘Attaboy,'” Harper now says. “Or self-esteem-boosting audiobooks, slenderizing mirrors, mugs that say ‘World’s Greatest Sole Remaining Superpower’ — you know.” (Well, okay, no he didn’t. But hell, if he can reinvent his positions on the fly, I can too.)
In fact, here’s what Stockwell Day — Harper’s foreign affairs critic — had to say a year ago:
Canadian Troops Must Join Allies in Gulf
More Canadian troops should now head to region to help enforce UN resolution, disarm Saddam
OTTAWA – Canadian Alliance Foreign Affairs Critic Stockwell Day called on the government to deploy Canadian forces to the Persian Gulf to help enforce United Nations resolution 1441.
“Canada must work with the multilateral coalition of the willing to help enforce the consequences if Saddam continues to defy the United Nations resolution,” said Mr. Day. “It is time for Canada to show its support for the United Nations disarmament process, by deploying greater forces to the region, along with our allies including Britain and Australia.”
“Saddam has shown he will not disarm unless under the threat of serious consequences. If Canada is truly committed to his disarmament, we will be part of enforcing those consequences.”
Moral outrage and astonishment aside, here’s what amazes me about seeing this unfold:
Who in the punditocracy would have thought last year that opposing Canada’s participation in the war in Iraq would turn out to be such highly desireable political real estate today?