The opposition smells blood. If they’re wrong, why is Garneau doing the minister’s press?
So just how close is Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to changing his status from badass to backbencher?
The high-profile minister is in hot water over having claimed to have been the “architect” of Operation Medusa, a pivotal battle in the Afghanistan war. “Stolen valour!” thundered Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, referring to the practice of taking credit for military service or accomplishments one has not achieved.
It’s a major taboo in the Canadian military community and a crime in the United States, where the Stolen Valour Act imposes fines and jail terms on those who fraudulently claim to have received military honours such as a Navy Cross or Purple Heart. In Canada, Section 419 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to wear a Canadian Forces uniform if one has not served in the military, or wear a medal, badge, or any other decoration that one has not earned. There’s a good reason for this: Impersonating a soldier allows one to enjoy unearned the respect accorded to real men and women in uniform — respect earned through service to country and, frequently, physical danger.
This kind of deception is more common than you might think. There was the case of Carl Dale, who pretended to be a captain in the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. Then there was David Dodd, a Peterborough man who falsely claimed to be a combat veteran on Facebook, prompting the launch of a Canadian website devoted to tracking down military imposters. And who can forget Franck Gervais, the fake soldier who glibly gave an interview to CBC reporters on Remembrance Day 2014, and later pleaded guilty to illegally wearing a military uniform? (Free advice: Don’t impersonate a soldier while the cameras are rolling.)
Of course, Sajjan didn’t “steal valour” like these men did. He wouldn’t need to: He’s a decorated vet who served in a variety of capacities in Afghanistan, including intelligence. But even exaggerating one’s accomplishments violates the military code of honour, because it implicitly diminishes the service of others.
The sticking point for Sajjan is his use of the word “architect”, which he employed not once, but twice in the past few years to describe his role in Op Medusa. “Architect” implies that he devised or led the mission, which was not the case, according to soldiers who served in Kandahar in 2006 who were interviewed by CBC News. They claimed that Sajjan did have a key role but at “no time was he in on the planning of the operation.”
“There was no one hero of Medusa, no one architect,” according to one senior officer who had direct knowledge of Sajjan’s role in Afghanistan.
Read the full article on iPolitics.