MAINSTREAM media on the weekend reported that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan had actually made the ‘architect of Operation Medusa’ claim once before.
Last week Sajjan was forced to apologize after mainstream media exposed his false claim in his keynote address “Conflict Prevention and Peacekeeping in a Changing World” on April 18 to Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi during his recent official visit to India: “On my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was the architect of Operation MEDUSA where we removed 1,500 Taliban fighters off the battlefield…and I was proudly on the main assault.” He had added: “I was recognized for my efforts.”
Sajjan apologized for what was called a “bald-faced lie” last week on Thursday. He clarified: “What I should have said was that our military successes are the result of the leadership, service and sacrifice of the many dedicated women and men in the Canadian Forces. I regret that I didn’t say this then, but I want to do so now.”
But Sajjan had also made that same claim almost two years ago.
In July 2015, he told the B.C. program Conversations That Matter that General Jonathan Vance, the current chief of defence staff who was previously a commander in Afghanistan, saw him as a key figure in the 2006 offensive, The Toronto Star reported.
Sajjan said: “If I could quote him, he said I was the architect of Operation Medusa, one of the biggest operations since the Korean War that Canada has led. We took the fight hard to the Taliban.”
This was just months before he was elected as the South Vancouver MP after being parachuted into that riding by federal Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau.
Conservative Defence Critic James Bezan told the media that he thinks ”that this is a disturbing pattern of embellishing stories and misrepresenting the facts and making up alternative facts, and that this pattern is something that all of us need to critique even more.”
Incidentally, many are now wondering if all those who were investigated by Sajjan when he was in Vancouver Police Department will now appeal their convictions by attacking his credibility.
PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday expressed full confidence in Sajjan in the House of Commons and said that he had “acknowledged his responsibility and apologized for it; that’s what Canadians expect when one makes a mistake.”
Sajjan said repeatedly: “I’m not here to make any excuses for my mistake.”
The Conservatives heckled Sajjan, shouting, “Shame,” “You’re a bald-faced liar,” and “You’re a disgrace.”
Conservative interim Leader Rona Ambrose said: “How much more does the prime minister need to hear before he understands why our men and women in uniform have lost confidence in the minister?”
She added: “People in the military have a name for what he did: it’s called ’stolen valour,’ when someone takes credit for the brave actions of another.”
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said: “A whopper is not something you apologize for, it’s something you step down for.”
THE irony of all this is that retired Canadian soldier Bruce Moncur who was seriously injured – he was shot three times and had five per cent of his brain removed – in Operation Medusa, told the CBC that he was baffled why Sajjan would want to take credit for the mission. He told the CBC that it was an ill-conceived military strategy.
“The architect reduced the aerial bombings from three days to one, and then sent two platoons of soldiers in an extended line in a World War One-style frontal assault where we then were enveloped on three sides, similar to a 2,000-year-old battle tactic,” Moncur told the CBC.
“For five hours, we fought for our lives. The architect — whoever that person was — deviated from the battle plan and it cost a lot of Canadians their lives.”
Moncur told the CBC that 35 members of his 40-strong platoon were injured or killed during two days of fighting.