PM plays defence
Trudeau rebuffs calls for Sajjan’s resignation
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.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday.