In a speech last week, Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan claimed that he was the architect of Operation Medusa, a combat mission which removed 1,500 Taliban fighters off the battlefield in Afghanistan.
The problem with his statement – it was simply not true.
According to the chief of operations for NATO in southern Afghanistan during Operation Medusa in 2006, Minister Sajjan was not the architect of Canada’s biggest battle since the Korean War as he claimed. Retired Lt.-Col. Shane Schreiber said, “Harj the soldier probably would not have said that. Harj the politician did, thinking that he could get away with it.” Schrieber went on to add, “Harj probably realized it was wrong to take total credit. I would say that he lives in a different world now. Any good soldier would not try to steal another soldier’s honour.”
Other officers who served in Afghanistan expressed similar disappointment with the Minister Sajjan’s speech.
The minister spent the weekend apologizing for his most recent exaggeration. However, this was not likely a simple slip of the tongue as he had previously made the same erroneous claim back in 2015.
This is not the first time Mr. Sajjan has been caught giving misleading statements. He previously misled Canadians about an Air Force capability gap, providing deployed soldiers with danger pay and hardship benefits and our allies’ response to withdrawing Canadian fighter jets from the fight against ISIS.
These misleading statements serve only to bring his character into question. If the minister is willing to utter the same un-truths repeatedly, what else is he willing to mislead Canadians about? How can Canadians be expected to trust this minister when his former colleagues are describing him as a “bald-faced liar”?
In the House of Commons Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau defended his minister and said that he has and will continue to have “full confidence” in Minister Sajjan. Perhaps that makes sense considering the Prime Minister’s own struggles with the truth and in light of the fact that he has now become the first ever sitting Prime Minister to be investigated by the federal ethics commissioner. The commissioner is considering two potential violations of the Conflict of Interest Act involving his winter holiday at the Bahamas Island owned by the Aga Khan.
There are also still serious ethical concerns regarding his cash-for-access fundraisers with wealthy Chinese business executives as well as his penchant for delivering conflicting messages to different areas of the country.
And of course how could we forget the promise to run short-term deficits of less than $10 billion per year. We all know how that one turned out.
Canadians deserve a prime minister who they can trust. They deserve cabinet ministers they can trust. And certainly the men and women of our Canadian Armed Forces deserve a defence minister they can trust.