CensusLeaks.ca

Sunday at around 5pm, the story hit the blackberries of government staffers and journalists alike in Ottawa that over 200,000 pages of classified documents describing operations of the war in Afghanistan were posted on WikiLeaks.org, an online clearinghouse for classified government information. It has been argued by the Pentagon and by Foreign Affairs that the information released puts soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan at risk and it has certainly has handed the Taliban a propaganda victory over allied war efforts against the extremist forces in that country.

This news comes in a time period where Ottawa-watchers have been discussing the disclosure, security and privacy of data collected by governments. First, opposition parties argued that the government declassify thousands of pages detailing the detention and transfer of Afghan detainees, and then there’s been that war of numbers over the utlility and intrusiveness of the governments ability to collect data on the citizenry via the census.

Is all data created (and withheld) equally? Do defenders of an open and free society sincerely believe the new axiom that “all information wants to be free”? Is our society free because some information is held secure?

If journalism is — by one definition — to bring comfort to the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable, do information dumps on the execution of the war in Afghanistan bring transparency to decisions made by our elected leaders, or do they provide comfort to the enemy? Even the decision to reveal classified documents on detainee transfers to Parliament was done reluctantly and the documents were revealed under strict guidelines.

Two arguments against the long-form census — in a debate that has turned into a “national crisis” according to one breathless account from a journalist at macleans.ca — are that the census could violate the privacy of individuals and that a mandatory burden comes with state penalty of jail or a fine or both.

We used to live in a world where releasing classified information to the enemy in wartime was akin to treason because it violated a clear national interest — our security. Yet, the founder of wikileaks and those that participated in the release of classified information will likely never see the inside of a jail cell. Our world has evolved such that it may not be reasonable for the government to expect that information can remain secure. Society has changed such that the average citizen can instantly react to information as it continuously breaks. Has our war cabinet been expanded to include the hoards of sarcastic tweeters deskchair-quarterbacking the conflict? Has elected leadership been replaced by liveblogging and instant polls? Does information want to be free because now we all can make the day-by-day decisions to effectively execute this war? No, of course not.

As the wikileaks release has shown, information can never be confidently be deemed “secure”. Even information vital to national security can be compromised and the security of this data is held paramount by our government compared to concerns over personal privacy. In this case, breach of secure information was done so according to a unilateral and unaccountable political agenda of “openness”. Troubling still, a significant subset of the voices against scrapping the long-form census are now heralding this new “transparency” of information that compromises the security of our troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

Transparency, openness, privacy and security are all important principles here. How you justify any of these at the expense of others is of course how your agenda is constituted. In this modern world, we must presume a full spectrum of agendas and since we can no longer stand together united behind one interest, we must be vigilant in protecting our own. If the state cannot ensure security in the private data it collects, we as citizens should not be open and transparent to it. If for the sake of transparency and openness, activists compromise the security and safety of their fellow citizens, they should be afforded neither from the state.

Comments

comments

  • Canadiansense

    You are being unfair in demanding a debate with evidence or facts. The leak by a 22 year old would never happen in Canada.

    Those Census workers, thousands of employees involved in keeping data private would never sell out or leave a laptop in their car.

    Why worry the media and left can provide “super duper” promises our information is safe.

  • RayK

    “First, opposition parties argued that the government declassify thousands of pages detailing the detention and transfer of Afghan detainees…”

    No, they didn't. The opposition parties wanted the documents in questions handed over to parliament and parliament to decide how they should be handled. That would in no way shape or require that they be declassified.

    “As the wikileaks release has shown, information can never be confidently be deemed 'secure'.”

    To the extent that your post is about whether “transparency” is a sufficient moral justification to leak classified information, I agree that it is not.

    That being said (a) we have no idea whether these documents present any national security danger, (b) we cannot yet assess how important they will be the public's effort to evaluate the War in Afghanistan and (c) they have nothing to do with the census.

    These are two completely different situations in nearly every possible way. I'm glad consevatives now freely acknowledge there's no such thing as total security, but if you want to argue that census data on individual citizens is in some specific danger of being improperly divulged then provide some evidence.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    The same pattern a human action: voluntarily through malice or being careless.

    Ontario’s privacy commissioner has launched an investigation after a USB drive containing the personal health information of more than 80,000 people, who went to flu clinics in Durham Region — just north of Toronto — went missing.

    Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=

    New Glasgow police say they've recovered a computer memory stick containing the personal information of 150 people who used mental-health services in Pictou County.

    Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2008/05/30/picto

    The laptop contained around 33,000 password protected patient records including details about patients' type of diabetes and results of retinal screening tests. The laptop was attached to the van by a security cable which was cut during the theft.

    http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?i

    The alleged ransom note posted on the PMP site claimed that the hacker had backed up and encrypted more than 8 million patient records and 35 million prescriptions and then deleted the original data.

    “Unfortunately for Virginia, their backups seem to have gone missing, too. Uhoh,” the hacker is supposed to have said in his note, a copy of which was available on Wikileaks. “For $10 million, I will gladly send along the password,” for decrypting the data, the supposed hacker wrote.

    http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/Home/News

  • Gabby in QC

    JULY 26/10
    A couple of points on the question of leaks:
    1. I wonder how those people who decried the release of the ClimateGate emails discrediting that “research” will now react.
    Will they dismiss those leaked Afghanistan documents as meaningless, not having any bearing on the war, and probably of exaggerated importance, as they did with the ClimateGate emails?
    Will they refer to the Afghanistan documents as having been “stolen” so that whatever information was contained therein was morally questionable, as they did with the ClimateGate emails?

    2. The second point has to do with the ethics of “recommending” leaks to WikiLeaks.
    Here’s what a noted professor and a former Canadian diplomat wrote last November in discussing Richard Colvin and the detainees issue.
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Colvin+just+d… [Link no longer active, but cache found here: http://tinyurl.com/27vsjde ]
    “Colvin is just doing his job
    Contrary to the whistle-blower hype, the embattled diplomat is merely carrying out — with honour — his duty to the Crown and people of Canada
    BY AMIR ATTARAN AND GAR PARDY, CITIZEN SPECIAL
    NOVEMBER 28, 2009
    … In short, the tigers the government uses to enforce secrecy often are toothless, or can be safely defanged by a lawyer, particularly if he or she is an expert in public law.
    Technology also makes safe disclosure possible without a lawyer. Wikileaks (wikileaks.org) is an ultra-secure, totally anonymous website that accepts documents from around the world. No source has ever been exposed through Wikileaks, though it has been used over a million times. …
    We recommend this course: Civil servants and diplomats are privileged to be some of the best educated Canadians, and have an ethical responsibility to help other Canadians understand government's complexity. Techniques exist to disclose safely, without becoming an unemployed martyr. …”

    In other words, the writers of that op-ed encouraged leaks from civil servants, even those leaks that pertain to national security.

    Despicable is not a strong enough word.

  • wilson

    The point is, no government can GUARANTEE they can protect your private information, when they can't even protect their own classified information.

    Information, once in government hands, is at the mercy of the handlers.

  • Liz J

    Yes, despicable for sure but also very dangerous to the security of the country. People like Amir Attaran and Gar Pardy scare the hell out of me.

  • sdg

    Can you get my record out of CIMS?

  • RayK

    It's very telling that none of your examples have anything to do with the census.

    Since the very aim of the census is to collect statistical data based on personal surveys there are protections built in at every step of the process to prevent mishandling–unlike in many other government and corporate project where data handling is not the core mission of those involved.

  • RayK

    As I wrote: “These are two completely different situations in nearly every possible way. I'm glad consevatives now freely acknowledge there's no such thing as total security, but if you want to argue that census data on individual citizens is in some specific danger of being improperly divulged then provide some evidence. “

    There's no such thing as total security, but if one wants to use this as an argument against the current census system then one should provide evidence that this is a significant risk because the mere fact that there's a theorectically possibility that census information may be mishandled isn't a convincing rationale more messing with a system that's generally recognized as one of the best in the world.

  • Anonymous

    If you succeed in damaging the accuracy of StatsCan data, your Canada will certainly be more stupid.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Why do you ignore the human element and risk of this information? You defense is you want specific examples from Census to validate the privacy and security issues?

    How many temporary Census workers are hired to conduct these surveys? Background checks, you might be comfortable with disclosing information to total strangers. You are also free to disclose your personal information over the phone to telemarketers who are offering you an upgraded credit card.

    I have ZERO interest in providing strangers, temporary hires on behalf of Census Canada with my personal details.

    As pointed out, the threats and intimidation is not being enforced, so I will continue to ignore those threats.

    It is a shame my concern for the elderly and those who have recently arrived from police states should not be subjected to coercion.

    My Canada is simply more democratic and free.

  • real conservative

    You are trying to find logic in the actions of the left are you? Then good luck because there isn't any. It is just defiance plane and simple and there is no logic, no other agenda, nor an sense to it all. That's why I always call leftists hypocrites and this is a good example of that. I wonder who helped to make the documents available though? (real conservative)

  • gimbol

    Heard a good counterpoint to all this today.

    Will Wikileaks be releasing any secret Taliban documents soon?
    Or how soon will it be until we hear about war crimes committed by the Taliban?

  • kenn2

    Stephen of course forgot to tell you that the Wiki-leaked Afghan documents are several months or more old, and do not disclose anything that could compromise any current Afghan operations. Excepting of course that as more people find out just how poorly it's going, governments will be forced to either step up their game , change the game, or get out.

    (I told y'all a year ago, here in Stephenland, that the good guys (US, Britain, Canada) had killed more Afghan civilians in the conduct of the war than the Taliban has. Do you believe it now?)

    Equating this somehow with StatsCan is soooo lame… If you have one or more charge cards or an Air Miles card, your financials are already just about public knowledge, and one dropped laptop away from the spotlight. These are the ones you should fear. And if you do Facebook, or you Twitter…

    Finally – a media bias I will acknowledge – the MSM's rollover for the government in their war reporting, and their failure to probe and investigate more closely into the proxy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Richard Colvin is a hero for speaking out. Harper is a coward for not joining him in a search for the truth.

  • kenn2

    I cannot super-duper promise you won't be run over by a bus tomorrow, but considering that you've somehow survived to this point suggests that you know how to cross the street, so I'm pretty confident it won't happen.

    Stats Can's whole reason for being is to collect census data, process and deliver accurate statistics, and protect and isolate the raw identity data. To my knowledge, they've never leaked any of this identity data, I'm told that they have a pretty good system for keeping the ID part walled off from the statistical part… so I'm more than confident that they will continue to do so.

    Sorry you folks are having such a hard time fabricating plausible excuses for attacking a very well-functioning organization.

  • kenn2

    Any comparison between the census and the Afghan Wikileaks are like comparing apples to hand-grenades. Different systems, different handling and storage, different uses, different clients.

    The suggestion by some commentators that personal info from StatsCan could be floating around on a laptop or a USB drive is laughable. Please make the effort to find out why this is so.

    And to the commentator who previously said that they were uncomfortable about “baring” their” soul” in the long-form census… if your soul can be accurately recorded by the long-form census, you really need to go out more.

  • Gabby in QC

    “Equating this somehow with StatsCan is soooo lame…”
    And your making that assertion is even lamer. Show me where I mention StatsCan in my comment, Kenn2 … or should I say Kenn-nought?

  • Mary T

    Excellent exposure of the left and their hypocritical actions re leaks. Wonder if Kady will have time to read these, or if Lizzie has read every one as she claimed re the climate e-mails.

  • kenn2

    Maybe you should read Stephen's post. It IS what this thread is about…

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    “We rely on Canadians to provide accurate information, but we have no means of verifying,” said Hamel.

    Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Sabotage+Franc

  • Canadiansense

    Elites and Liberals are out of touch with Canadians. They keep referring to speeding fines, parking penalties as the same as not telling the government on how much time you spend with your kids or house chores.

    Liberals and elites believe in big government and have no problem with putting people in jail.

    October Crisis, G20 both run by the Liberals hundreds of innocent Canadians rounded up.

    As I said Liberals are a scary bunch of control freaks who prefer a police state.

  • kenn2

    Thank you for the link to that article. It clearly shows that:

    - StatsCan goes to great lengths to examine and correlate their data with other indicators
    - they have people around who actually understand how to review and manage statistics
    - they share their concerns with the user when the data accuracy might be compromised

    There would be be no story if StatsCan hadn't done the analysis and cross-check, and shared it's doubts with the public. Do you think a patchwork of private for-hire census companies would be as rigorous?

    And finally, how would making the long-form census voluntary fix the reported issue? It certainly won't improve things.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    EPIC FAIL

    1) Articles demonstrates a group may have skewed data to get more benefit

    “We rely on Canadians to provide accurate information, but we have no means of verifying,” said Hamel.

    You can ignore reality, spin from with the usual cited experts (Nelson Wiseman) defending they (Census) WE HAS NO MEANS of VERIFYING”.

    Again nice try.

    Census admits key groups: Aboriginals, Wealthy, Visible minorities, Poor are participating well below the participation rates. The loss of threats and intimidation for fines and jail may further drive down their participation.

    It is funny hearing how you want to keep threatening these groups to secure their information to help them.

    You should stop victimizing these people and learn new methods to collect data from groups, this in not a totalitarian state.

  • kenn2

    ZERO FAIL – the organization responsible for collecting the data have themselves identified the discrepancy. It doesn't get more professional than that. You don't think that discrepancy wasn't taken into account when the funding decisions were made?

    “WE HAS NO MEANS of VERIFYING” – you've taken that out of context. Hamel was saying that they can't realistically verify the complete truth of every individual's census form.

    BUT THEY DO HAS MEANS of VERIFYING the accuracy of a statistical finding. The news story amply demonstrates that. By comparing the census findings for unilingual Framcophone households with other findings and with common sense, they detected the aberration. This is what STATISTICIANS do, my friend. And you folks want to mess this up.

    Completing a census form is one of the very few things demanded of us as citizens of this great country. Suggesting that a StatsCan followup for a missing census form is some sort of horrible ordeal, done by goons using threats and intimidation, is of course hilarious.

  • kenn2

    We trust government-funded military and police professionals to handle deadly force, and to know when and when not to kill people. Who do you think is better qualified for this – a police officer or a rent-a-cop from a private security firm?

    I think it's also OK to trust government-funded professional statisticians to handle census data. It's what they do.

    I'm not a statistician, but I've handled data, including large databases of personal info. Anyone who halfway understands the process would concede that a large statistics organization like StatsCan have systems and measures in place that make the chance of accidental leaks of personal info very, very unlikely.

    Of course you can't protect against malice… but let's be real about this. You think there's the same motivation to release census info as there was to release the Afghan war info? There's nothing in your census info that isn't already in your VISA card file, or that couldn't be found out in 2 days by a 3rd rate private investigator. You can relax, now.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Another fail!

    You called them “goons” and refer to Census as a horrible ordeal.

    I point out coercion (threats) of fines or imprisonment is used to get mandatory forms filled out period.

    Census Canada and cited experts decry key groups are NOT cooperating and they fear without keeping the threats of fines including jail their participation rate will further drop.

    As I said this is NOT a Police State and we don't need to victimize these groups. Census needs to do a better job in getting those groups to fill out the information in a voluntary fashion.

    The middle class is complying why are these other groups not participating? Stop blaming the poor, visible minorities and aboriginals for problems in the execution of the Census.

    You liberals are a scary and mean lot.

  • kenn2

    You're so desperate you're inventing things to blame on Liberals (and me).

    You're the one claiming that StatsCan threatens and victimizes people. Unsupported by fact of course: point us to one case of victimization or of being threatened. Getting a letter or a phone call as a reminder to complete the census, or a college kid showing up on your doorstep with a clipboard, is hardly coercion or threats. If you want to see threats and coercion, let an unpaid parking ticket go into collection…

    Census Canada and cited experts decry key groups are NOT cooperating and they fear without keeping the threats of fines including jail their participation rate will further drop.

    This shows that you misunderstand a crucial part of the issue. It's not simply the numbers. For the long census to be statistically valid, it has to be randomly distributed and have the same completion rate across all sections of the population. If it's mandatory, there's a greater likelihood of all people completing it, and there's justification for a phone call or a followup visit. (oh, the victimization! Stop coercing me!) If it's voluntary, you will only get responses from those who are willing and/or consider it part of their duty. This will skew the results of the long form census.

    Under a voluntary system, special interest groups will be overrepresented, not under. Did you stop to think about that?

    I'm still astounded that you have such a strong opinion about something you apparently don't understand.

    Whoops, gotta answer the door. There's a black SUV, 10 guys with submachine guns and German Canadian shephards, and they want to know why I didn't complete the census.

  • Mary T

    Just to let you know that we refused to fill out questions re income, race and ethnic origin and were threatened with a fine. When that didn't work we were threatened with jail. Still didn't give her what she wanted, other than Canadian re race or ethnic origin. Been watching the hearings today, and the opposition is having fits. Keep bringing up that no one has been jailed or fined, but forget to ask, how many were threatened and then complied.
    Next census is going to be worthless as all this has done is give people of answers to personal questions, whether voluntary or mandatory.
    Have you ever had the long form. Loved it when Garneau held up a so called copy of the 2006 form and then proceeded to say questions being talked about were not there. Then Tony opened the same form and read the questions, and gave the number of question. Garneau got really agitated.
    And to think that guy was an astronaught, it is a miracle he made it back to land. But, he was only a passenger not the pilot.

  • Liz J

    Watching the spaceman in action, I'm beginning to wonder if there's too much space between his ears.

    Like Dryden, he had a lot of respect for what he accomplished and like Dryden he's going to be remembered for being really poor in the political world.

  • kenn2

    Yes I've had the long form.

    Just to let you know that we refused to fill out questions re income, race and ethnic origin

    Well, bully for you. Revenue Canada, your employer, your bank and several credit bureaus already know your income. Anyone who comes to your doorstep and chats with you would get a good idea about the other two pretty fast. So much for your courageous stand for libertarianism.

    Filling out a census, even the long one, isn't that much to ask of a citizen. You should be punished for not complying. (Without threat of punishment, your courageous stand wouldn't be that courageous, now would it? Fight the powah! You stuck it to da man!)

    I'm going to repeat the following, cos I think you have all missed this:

    Under a voluntary system, special interest groups will be overrepresented, not under

    So much for removing the “framework of debate”. Or will Harper then turn around in 2011and say “census don't count cos voluntary census is always skewed”? Gonna be interesting…

  • RayK

    I'm not denying anything, nor do I need to defending myself.

    As I have written in each of my comments, of course we can't have total security or 100% certainty that census data will never be mishandled, but if you're going to make the argument that the risk of mishandling outweighs the benefits of our current census then you better have some relevant evidence or else your argument just isn't worth much. The fact the OTHER people–related to the government or not–have mishandled private information is really neither here nor there.

  • Gabby in QC

    Kenn-nought, Stephen's post opens with the WikiLeaks story, which happened to be the big news of the day. I chose to focus on how two different leaks have been perceived, and on the danger of self-styled heroes who in effect endanger national security.

    Do you now intend making it mandatory to stay within a narrow parameter — defined by you, of course — of what can or cannot be discussed here?

    What, are you threatening time-outs in a commenters' penalty box?

  • kenn2

    Ah – we're playing by YOUR rules. So sorry. Kindly post them and I will endeavour to follow.

  • Gabby in QC

    “So sorry.”

    I'm glad you recognize the error of your ways. Apology accepted :-D

  • kenn2

    G20 run by Liberals?? G20 arrests the fault of Liberals?? Liberals want more people in jail??

    You ARE on crack.

  • Dogears

    Look, Canadians should be excused for being paranoid that our government is hiding behind the “security” excuse. The Conservatives are desperately keeping the Afghan documents secret and may need to force a fall election to beat the discoveries that they know are coming. So… Canadians may be more than willing to believe any source that seems to bi-pass the official sources.

  • Canadiansense

    APEC, October Crisis, G20, Quebec City 2002 the pattern of use of police force by Liberals exists.

    You may not like the facts and the reports that already exist and the one coming out of the G20.

    As I said earlier Liberals are a scary bunch, some favour a police state.

  • Mary T

    What would be the reaction of the opposition, who want you to be threatened with jail or fines, and the media, who also think it is a good idea, if the Govt cancelled the short form and sent the long form to every Canadian, with said threats removed. Unless everyone has to fill out the same form, you will never know how many people have trouble bending over, or if anyone in your household has a mental problem (from the 2011 form) And send the form in french or english to those homes that said french was the language spoken at home. Watch the liars come out of the woodwork and the media go crazy.
    Special interest groups would really be in a snit as they might find that their causes are of no concern to the majority of Canadians and their funding would be cut.
    Just add one more question, do you support taxpayers funding groups supporting ——–list groups.

  • Kingston

    kenn2, your comments concerning the fact that the wiki leaks now seem to have not been totally vetted to protect the names of Afgans who have been cooperating with the Afgan Govt and NATO forces. When the people and their families start showing up dead in ditches along side the highways of Afgan, will you feel any remorse, or still support the leaks in their uncensored form

  • East of Eden

    What is CIMS?

  • ShawnC

    I agree with you Mary. Many years ago, I got stuck with long form and I only filled out what was pertinent to the form (age, sex, married, education, etc) but how many bedrooms, unpaid labour, who does more housework, etc was/and is nothing more than BS questions, and I attached a note to the long form expaining such.

    A couple of weeks pass, and I received one of three threats from the faceless Census bureaucrats and after the third one, I capitulated to the govt.

    Not because I was afraid of the government – but because I didn't have the funds to fight them and I had more important concerns.

    Note to kenn2 – I agree that StatsCan probably has no leaks but they do sell the data to corporations. Frankly, we are all better off with a less intrusive govt.

    My two cents

  • kenn2

    Another lost sheep who has no concept of how statistics work.

    Special interest groups would really be in a snit as they might find that their causes are of no concern to the majority of Canadians and their funding would be cut.

    If the form is voluntary… then those who are motivated would be more likely to complete the form. What's a strong motivation? A special interest group. Especially if their group puts the word out.

    Voluntary survey completion will cause over-emphasis on special interests, not less.

  • kenn2

    I suspect the majority of cooperating Afghans who are attacked by the enemy were found out by more 'local' means, not Wikileaks. Nonetheless, of course I wouldn't want to see Afghans or their families killed. For any reason.

    Let me ask you: do you harbour any doubts about the aims or the conduct of the Afghanistan invasion? It's been 9 years, the enemy is far from vanquished, and they still have the ability to hit targets at will. WW II was started and finished in 6 years.

    I don't know whether this will be the outcome, but if these Afghan leaks did result in a shortening of the war and a reduction in the overall number of civilian deaths… would you consider that a good thing?

  • ShawnC

    A couple of points concerning this debate

    Can anyone trust the Wikileaks to be accurate? Re: Canadian soldiers KIA by blue on blue in 2006. Iggy wants another public inquiry. Funny thing, Iggy didn't bother to ask the soldiers that were involved in that firefight. Because he would be embarrassed. The soldiers say it was not friendly fire. One soldier put it quite plainly – “Friendly fire, my ass.”

    It seems the supporters of keeping the census long-form mandatory claim that leaks are not an issue, that privacy is not an issue since banks, credit card companies have more information on us, the transportation ministry have our personal details, etc. But the StatsCandata can be sold to anyone.

    Pierre Trudeau once quipped, “The state has no business in the bedroom”. I'll take that up a notch – The state has no business in a citizen's house. The less government intrusion into our lives is a good thing.

    Someone (a liberal or socialist?) claimed that Richard Colvin is a hero. We know the opposition parties think that. What a load of bull. All he did was re-hash allegations (and no hard facts). But when Richard Fadden (head of CSIS) claimed certain politicians were under the influence of foreign governments, the opposition parties (and their supporters) demanded Fadden resign. Mighty hypocritical of them, don't you think?

    My two cents

  • Kingston

    kenn2, As a soldier who has been in the sand box twice, I fully support the mission and the parameters as set by the our Govt, the UN, and NATO. If I have a major problem it is with the entire communication plan of the govt and with the media. I will tell you for a fact, because I seen it with my own eyes on more then one occasion, most of the media but not all, sit there in the compound on a death watch ignoring offers from public affairs officers to go out and see development and good things that happen. I and my counterparts, do not like to see the deaths of anyone, and we go out of our way to include putting our own lives in greater danger to avoid it. Civilian deaths as well as deaths of members of the Taliban brings no pleasure, we do not run back to base to raise a beer or a timmies and brag about our penis size. The problem with this mission is on the part of the govt communications and their failure to get the media to report on the positive developments so that the Canadian people who we the militarily are ultimately responsible too, understand. We might not be able to Carpet Bomb a civilian population into submission and destroy their ability to arm themselves or drop a nuke like in WWII which greatly contributed to the six year limit on that war, but we are winning, slow, sure and steadily one combat boot after another.

  • kenn2

    As a soldier who has been in the sand box twice, I fully support the mission and the parameters as set by the our Govt, the UN, and NATO.

    I would expect no less of someone in your position. (and, thank-you for your service)

    It is incumbent on our government, and the rest of us, to ensure that Canadian forces are deployed and put in harm's way only when absolutely necessary, and for the best reasons, and that the deployed troops have the resources and direction they need to complete the mission.

    I was conditionally supportive of the invasion of Afghanistan, including Canada's involvement, back in 2001/2002. (on the other hand, Iraq was a tragedy of massive human proportions that never should have happened.) But after 9 years… what was the goal, anyway? Had the government said then that we are going to remake Afghanistan and it would take 10+ years, we would have sent them back to the drawing board.

    I can appreciate your view that 'progress' is being made, but at what real cost, especially to the Afghans? In both Afghan and Iraq, the population has experienced massive destruction and displacement, worsening living conditions and higher civilian deaths than if we'd just stayed out. In both regions, the upper and middle classes, the professionals are all getting the heck out if they can, hollowing out their societies and reducing the chances that a stable self-governing population can be re-established.

    As a citizen, I'd like to know that our forces have been deployed for a good reason, and that the project is do-able. I'd also prefer that our government be more open with us about the real goals and obstacles, and in particular, I'd like to know that the government has given you rules of engagement and directions that are both effective and honourable. This is why so many of us are angry with the Harper government for its continued stonewalling on the Colvin allegations.

  • kenn2

    Can anyone trust the Wikileaks to be accurate?

    Good point. It must be noted that first-draft battle reports aren't always regarded as the full story or the final word.Judging from the circling of the wagons and cries of 'foul!', I'd say they're accurate enough to be disconcerting.

    But the StatsCandata can be sold to anyone.

    Ah, another newbie to the world of statistics… StatsCan sells statistics (say THAT three times fast…). Statistics are NOT personal data. Hope that's clear.

    Someone (a liberal or socialist?) claimed that Richard Colvin is a hero

    That would be me. (And I'm neither, sorry). The thrust of the Colvin allegations are relatively minor, and Harper could have quickly cleared the air when these allegations surfaced. Instead he's attacked the bearer of bad news, refused to cooperate even with a parliamentary order, and worst of all, Harper and MacKay have taken refuge behind the troops by saying that the Colvin allegations were attacks on Canadian forces (they're not, the allegations are against the government for what rules of engagement and procedures they set out for the forces). Harper is a complete ass-covering coward for trying to shift the allegations' target.

  • Liz J

    You'd have had a fine chance of “sending hem back to the drawing board”. In the first place it wasn't “them”, it was himself, JC, who decided on his own, no vote in the HOC, to deploy our troops to Afghanistan.

    I think we need to go beyond politics to find out what's really going on and the progress being made in that place, some who have been there, people like Chris Alexander would know better than most who spout off playing politics on blogs and in the MSM.

  • kenn2

    You're being pointlessly naive. Whether JC sent troops unilaterally or not, you know and I know that had a HP vote been held on this, it would have passed easily. And subsequent elections have upheld the action. So we ALL own this one.

    And secondly, no-one told us that this would be a 9+ year quagmire or that we'd be rebuilding Afghanistan brick by brick. The impression created by the US and NATO, and not contradicted by our government, was that this was a quick, almost surgical strike against Bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the Taliban. That's what I thought I was supporting, not a 9-year replay of Viet Nam.

    I think we need to go beyond politics to find out what's really going on and the progress being made in that place, some who have been there

    Couldn't agree more. Except that you lot put your fingers in your ears and scream media bias whenever something comes out that you don't like. Your views would have alot more credibility if you could present arguments that worked with all sources of information, not just the ones you agree with.

  • Canadiansense

    Kenn2 is an apologist for the Liberal Party. If you look at his positions that he takes up they are 100% consistent with the talking points of the Liberal Party.

    He will deny their mistakes, invalidate the numerous reports by the auditor general. He will dismiss every civil servant, general, third party that exonerates the government.

    His heroes are Kevin Page and Richard Colvin because they have made critical statements. Both have been proven wrong with people who have more experience and knowledge.

    It is a blind devotion to the Liberal Party.