Hollow, insincere, and self-serving. That's how the media and NDP sounded as they claimed the Conservative government is hiding something. Yesterday the Government to banned the media from directly reporting from the airport ceremony at CFB Trenton, where four fallen Canadian soldiers returned to Canadian soil.
That Canada's 'Liberal-Government-ordered' expedition to Afghanistan is among the most open and transparent military operations in the middle east is widely acknowleged. When four Canadian soldiers died there on Saturday, the media was there to report it right after it happened, reporting as the bodies were recovered, and reported on the ceremonies in Kandahar when they were shipped home. How the hell can they claim the Conservative government has something to hide?
Easily, if it's for gain.
So who gains? Do the families of the fallen soldiers gain by having their grief displayed across the nation? Will our military's families morale be improved by media sensationalism of the dangers of service in a combat zone? Will our serving soldiers morale be helped? Will their determination to fulfill their duties be strengthened by dragging down the morale of their families? Of course not.
What do those people in the military think? They already know when someone dies down here," said Gunner Hugo Girouard to Canadian Press, a soldier from Shilo, Manitoba serving in Afghanistan. "Why dramatize more what is already dramatic?" The Edmonton Sun reported: "When asked what their biggest concern would be should something happen to them, very nearly all the soldiers who agreed to speak yesterday said they preferred grieving family members be shielded from what they consider to be the sometimes ruthless intensity of the media spotlight. In late March, when Pte. Robert Costall was killed in a possible friendly fire incident in nearby Helmand province, many soldiers reacted with horror and disgust when specifics of his autopsy made headlines in a national newspaper."
Ottawa Citizen columnist Susan Rilley was so upset, she wants to throw the fact of our casualties into the public's face again and again and disrupt all our daily routines. If you look hard enough through a population of 30 million people you can find all kinds of opinions: The CBC actually dug up the father of an earlier casualty who said he was comforted by having the media at his son's funeral. The Edmonton Journal tried to claim the government is engaged in a "propagandistic hiding of combat's cost".
The NDP has always choked on anything to do with the military, and leader Jack Layton couldn't constrain himself from announcing that Prime Minister Harper was acting 'very American.' (Clearly Layton has forgotten which country enshrined Freedom of the Press into their constitution first, 1791 in the U.S. versus 1982 in Canada.)
In the United States this debate has been going on even longer. The major News organizations , now run by aging baby boomers eager to relive the remembered glory of the anti-vietnam war movement, are almost uniformly against the war on terror, even while publicly claiming they 'support the troops.' Yet the LA Times has admitted that you can't be in 'support of our troops' and 'anti-war' at the same time.
Royal Canadian Navy veteran William Knight, 81, said it best, that It is detrimental to morale to re-tell the story of soldiers killed in war. "We don't need all the press, all the photographers, all the scribblers. They've done the story so many times, they know what the reaction's going to be. They know what the family's reaction's going to be."