PM plays de­fence

Trudeau re­buffs calls for Sa­j­jan’s res­ig­na­tion

Cape Breton Post - - News | Canada -

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and his em­bat­tled de­fence min­is­ter en­dured a with­er­ing ques­tion-pe­riod of­fen­sive Mon­day as op­po­si­tion MPs ac­cused Har­jit Sa­j­jan of “stolen val­our” for over­stat­ing his role in plan­ning a 2006 bat­tle in Afghanistan.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties trained their sights squarely on Sa­j­jan, who apol­o­gized again in the House of Com­mons for hav­ing de­scribed him­self as the ar­chi­tect of Op­er­a­tion Me­dusa, One of the blood­i­est and most piv­otal bat­tles of the Afghan war.

In­terim Con­ser­va­tive leader Rona Am­brose went so far as to ac­cuse Sa­j­jan of steal­ing credit for the ac­tions of oth­ers — a car­di­nal sin in mil­i­tary cir­cles.

“How much more does the prime min­is­ter need to hear be­fore he un­der­stands why our men and women in uni­form have lost con­fi­dence in the min­is­ter,” Am­brose said.

“Peo­ple in the mil­i­tary have a name for what he did: it’s called ‘stolen val­our,’ when some­one takes credit for the brave ac­tions of another.”

Trudeau, how­ever, would not be moved from his talk­ing points.

“The min­is­ter made a mis­take,” he said. “He ac­knowl­edged his re­spon­si­bil­ity and apol­o­gized for it; that’s what Cana­di­ans ex­pect when one makes a mis­take.”

Trudeau went on to say Sa­j­jan had served his coun­try with dis­tinc­tion in a num­ber of ca­pac­i­ties, in­clud­ing as a po­lice of­fi­cer and as a soldier. As a min­is­ter, he added, “he has my full con­fi­dence.”

Sa­j­jan, for his part, later rose and re­peated his apol­ogy.

“I would like to apol­o­gize for my mis­take in de­scrib­ing my role, and re­tract that state­ment, and I’m truly sorry for it,” Sa­j­jan said.

“I in no way in­tended to di­min­ish the great work that our men and women in the Cana­dian Armed Forces have done .... and I’m truly sorry for it.”

Con­ser­va­tives have also called on House of Com­mons Speaker Ge­off Re­gan to look into Sa­j­jan’s claims that the Tories, and not the Lib­er­als, cut tax ben­e­fits to Cana­dian sol­diers in Kuwait.

The NDP are also blast­ing the min­is­ter amid calls for a new probe into the mis­treat­ment of Afghan de­tainees, which Sa­j­jan re­fused to en­ter­tain last year.

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De­fence Min­is­ter Har­jit Sa­j­jan re­sponds to a ques­tion dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod in the House of Com­mons on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa on Mon­day.

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