Craig Scott: Sajjan Downplayed His Role in Afghanistan Where it Could Hurt Him, But Exaggerated Where it Helped Him

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News Article

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Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is being lambasted in the news for telling an audience in New Delhi that “(o)n my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was the architect of Operation Medusa.” Sajjan’s boastful claim to be “the” architect of this major battle merits the criticism it’s received. However, the media’s emphasis on Sajjan’s diminished role in the operation may lead the Canadian public to misunderstand the significant role Sajjan did play in Canada’s Afghanistan missions.

Tellingly, in another context, Sajjan chose not to play up his role in Afghanistan, but rather to minimize it in a way that pulled the wool over the eyes of an Officer of Parliament. In November 2016, I wrote to Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson about Sajjan’s decision to reject a petition that I initiated to establish a commission of inquiry into Canada’s practices relating to the transfer of detainees in Afghanistan.

I alerted the commissioner that Sajjan’s pivotal intelligence role in Kandahar made him a potentially valuable commission witness on the crucial issue of what was known about the use of torture by Afghan partner institutions. It was thus, I argued, a conflict of interest for Sajjan to be the one to reject such a commission.

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National Post