April 30th, 2017
Harjit Singh Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of Defence has been busy apologizing for a couple of days for telling a nose-stretcher about his time with the Canadian Army in Afghanistan. The Press is smelling blood in the water and so is the Official Opposition.
Personally, my attitude is ‘So What?’ – and I vote for Conservative candidates far more often than I do for Liberal ones.
When Sajjan was made Minister of Defence in the new Trudeau Cabinet in 2015, my initial reaction was that he was an “equity hire” and got his new salience due to being a Sikh who always maintains traditional dress. However, the networks of old Army and police contacts quickly let me know the New Minister did indeed have the right stuff.
Officers with whom I had served had known Harjit Sajjan in his own service and thought very highly of him, particularly after his service in Bosnia. He also had a great reputation inside the Vancouver Police for his work with gangs and narcotics. He gained new luster in two tours in Afghanistan and came back with glowing recommendations from his superiors.
In some ways, however, one can feel sorry for Sajjan as a minister. He – like many who knew him – was proud of his appointment as Defence Minister, but as the months have gone by it seems that the initial suspicion that he was an “equity hire” by the Trudeau government seems more valid after all. The Prime Minister’s Office has put a bushel over a bright light and told him to stay dim.
So we come to his recent claim in India that he was the “architect” of Operation Medusa, and he has had to retract that claim.
Remember Henry V’s great speech on the morning of Agincourt in the Shakespeare play of the same name? It is one of the most rousing passages the Great Bard ever wrote, but harken at the line “Old men forget, yet all shall be forgot, but he’ll remember with advantages what feats he did that day…”
Yup, we old soldiers do a lot of remembering with advantages… However, there are three rules: Don’t claim to have been in combat when you weren’t even in theatre; don’t claim another’s bravery as your own; don’t insult the memory of those who gave more than you did.
It’s easy for me to observe these three rules, nobody ever shot at me until I was a civilian again and I’ve never returned the favour. Other than that, I’ve got my “war stories” (all from peace-time) too, and most of them are true enough if you don’t look too closely.
Other than that, the shelves of military libraries are stuffed full of memoirs and recollections written by generals and staff officers who ‘interpreted’ events in which they were involved in a different light. Harjat Singh Sajjan played a key role in Operation Medusa, but being the architect of the operation? Well, we can all read worse nose-stretchers than that.
I’m going to give our Defence Minister a pass on this one and trust he has learned not to tell “War stories” when electronic media is handy.
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