Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday May 2, 2017
‘Stolen valour’: Sajjan faces calls to resign in wake of Afghanistan battle claim
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Harjit Sajjan has his “full confidence” amid a growing controversy over the defence minister’s exaggerated claim he was the “architect” of a major assault on the Taliban in 2006.
Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose accused Sajjan of “stolen valour” for taking credit for the actions of another, and called on Trudeau to fire him for dishonouring himself and the military.
“What he did was wrong, and now he has lost the confidence of our men and women in uniform, and they need to have confidence in their leaders, especially when they’re putting their lives on the line,” she said. “So will the prime minister remove the minister of defence?”
But Trudeau said Sajjan has served his country in a number of ways, as a police officer, a soldier and now as a cabinet minister. He made a mistake, apologized and took responsibility for it, the prime minister said.
“When we make a mistake, Canadians expect us to apologize and to acknowledge that mistake. That’s what we did and that’s why the minister of defence continues to have my full confidence,” Trudeau told the House.
Sajjan briefly met with reporters before entering the House of Commons, again apologizing and saying he was “not here to make excuses.”
“I’m owning it. I’m learning from it and I’ll be a better person for it,” he said.
He reiterated his apology in the House.
But NDP Leader Tom Mulcair accused Sajjan of telling “a whopper” and said that simply saying sorry isn’t enough.
“That is not something you apologize for, it’s something that you have to step down for,” he said.
MPs are back in Ottawa after a two-week break, and the controversy over Sajjan overstating his role in Operation Medusa during an April 18 address in New Delhi dominated the daily question period, with some MPs hollering “shame!” and “disgusting!”
The Conservatives said it is not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern of misleading the public (Source: CBC News)