ON TARGET: Tories rack up challenges to logic

By Scott Taylor 

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander dismisses the migrant crisis in Europe. (wikipedia)

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander dismisses the migrant crisis in Europe. (wikipedia)

While the cynical among us have long since known that politicians are masters of deflection and distortion, over the past week the Harper Conservatives have taken things to a whole new level.

First off, it was Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the latest round of violence in Ukraine. This of course is nothing new for the Conservatives, as they have long since dumbed down the complex Ukraine crisis into Russia bad, Ukraine good.

However, this time around, it was anti-Russian Ukrainian fascists and neo-Nazis who attacked Ukrainian security forces. During the Aug. 31 riot, the right-wing extremists threw grenades at police officers, killing three and wounding more than 100.

The reason for the neo-Nazis’ anger was the fact the newly installed Kyiv regime of President Petro Poroshenko had just passed a law to enhance the autonomy of the ethnic Russian-Ukrainians residing in the separatist eastern territories. This increased autonomy bill was part of the negotiated Minsk 2 ceasefire agreement, but the extreme nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party and the even more fascist Right Sector felt the new law was pandering to the pro-Russian rebels. So they threw grenades.

These would be the same fun-loving neo-Nazis who led the violent protests back in 2014 against Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s elected pro-Russian president. When that movement toppled Yanukovych, then-foreign affairs minister John Baird was among the first foreign leaders to fly to Kyiv to personally shake the hand of Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the Svoboda party.

It is worth noting that, in the wake of the Aug. 31 killings, Tyahnybok has been detained by police for the violence caused by his neo-Nazi followers.

Canada’s response to the incident was to blame poor old Putin. “This tragic incident draws its source from the instability caused by Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, in particular those orchestrated by Putin and his regime,” claimed Nicholson.

Somehow it is Putin’s fault when Russian-hating Ukrainian fascists attack and kill Ukrainian police because the Ukrainian parliament made concessions to ethnic Russian-Ukrainians. Unbelievable, but true.

In that same vein of outrageous deflection, we had Immigration Minister Chris Alexander trying to blame the media for ignoring the escalating migrant crisis in Europe. Alexander appeared on a panel for the CBC show Power & Politics following the drowning tragedy of two young Syrian boys and their mother as they sought to find asylum in Europe.

Rather than answer questions about the Conservative government’s tardy response to the crisis, Alexander grinned cockily and said, “I’m actually interested in why this is the first Power & Politics panel we’ve had on this.”

After startled claims of protest from both host Rosemary Barton and fellow panellists Liberal MP John McCallum and New Democrat MP Paul Dewar, Alexander continued: “The biggest conflict and humanitarian crisis of our time has been there for two years, and you and others have not put it in the headlines where it deserves to be.”

To her credit, Barton shot Alexander out of the water by pointing out that the migrant crisis had been discussed no less than 32 times on her show during the past two years — including numerous interviews with Alexander himself.

In full damage control mode, an unabashed Alexander did the media circuit trying to deflect attention away from the paltry 2,500 Syrian refugees his government has admitted to date, by highlighting the success Canada contributed to another war-torn country.

Alexander claimed that during Canada’s commitment to Afghanistan, some four million Afghan refugees were repatriated back to their country. What Alexander failed to mention is the fact that the vast majority of those Afghans were forcibly repatriated from neighbouring Iran and Pakistan, which only further burdened Afghanistan’s impoverished state.

Furthermore, Alexander forgot to note that a very large percentage of the current wave of Europe-bound migrants are Afghans who are once more leaving their war-ravaged country in the tens of thousands.

I’m not sure how Putin is to blame for this, but if not him, then it must be the CBC.