Thursday, May 29, 2008

For Those Who Thought Canada's Image on the World Stage Would Improve with Bernier Gone....

Well Stephen Harper and his office have faithfully carried on where Bernier left off:

PMO retracts message about Italian troop commitment

The Prime Minister's Office had to quickly backtrack on Thursday, after incorrectly telling reporters that Italy was loosening the restrictions imposed on its troops in Afghanistan. Officials made the erroneous comments to Canadian reporters as they took their seats on a plane in Italy in the morning, ready to fly with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to London for the British leg of his three-day European tour.

Officials told the group that Harper had met with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on the previous night, and Berlusconi had told Harper he was removing the conditions imposed on his country's soldiers. Italy, like some other countries in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, has come under fire for imposing restrictions that keep its troops out of many battles and other dangerous activities.

About 40 minutes later, the Prime Minister's Office backtracked. Berlusconi hadn't removed the conditions and was only considering it, they said.

"The PMO's staff … said, 'Oops, sorry, not true,' and then a parade of journalists went up to the front of the plane where the only secure and operating telephone exists, to correct those stories," the CBC's chief political correspondent Keith Boag said. "This could have had a very damaging and embarrassing effect in terms of a diplomatic gaffe," he added.

Deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said the prime minister and his staff should have had their facts straight after a two-hour meeting with Berlusconi. "That is not competent, that is more than embarrassing. That's really stupid," said Ignatieff. "I don't want a prime minister who goes in to talk to an Italian prime minister and doesn't understand what the Italian prime minister tells him on an important matter of state."

Just how many times is Stephen Harper and his government going to embarass us on the world stage this summer? Remember when Maxime Bernier mused publicly about removing an Afghan governor Canada might want to be quietly removed? Well as a result of Bernier's blunder it never happened.

We would like Italy to remove its combat restrictions to help carry a bigger burden in Afghanistan but because of this public blunder I would guess now it won't be happen. This is yet another Afghan blunder and all the while our soldiers are the ones that get affected.

After two years of bumbling overseas and making us a pariah on human rights and environment, Harper sure isn't off to a good start in repairing the damage.

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