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Gen. Hillier under fire

by Archives March 11, 2008

To the applause of Concordia’s Amnesty International branch, guest lecturer Alistair Edgar used his moment at the podium last Friday to call for the replacement of the Canadian Forces’ Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Rick Hillier.
Speaking to a crowd of roughly 20 people, Edgar, the Executive Director of the Academic Council on the United Nations System, accused Gen. Hillier, the defacto head of the Canadian Forces, of overstepping his authority by giving his opinion to parliament during a recent debate on the Afghan mission.
During testimony to parliament in the run-up to the recent debate on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, Gen. Hillier, the CDS (Chief of Defence Staff), argued that the Taliban closely watched Canadian political debates and would take any fixed end-date for Canada’s mission as a tacit admission of defeat.
According to Edgar, “If I were the Taliban, watching Canadian elections, I could watch (Gen. Hillier) as easily (as anyone else); and I would realize that if Canadian parliamentarians listen to a military officer, (that) shows the Taliban that they’ve already won – Canadian democracy is weak.”
Edgar said that although Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper may choose to replace any general who intrudes on the parliamentary debate’s jurisdiction, he is unlikely to make any move against Hillier – both because the general holds “a great deal of power in Ottawa” and because he’s serving Conservative interests.
“Stephen Harper likes (Hillier) – not personally, but rather what he’s done for the Harper government . . . Hillier is a good boy about town.”
Edgar, a British landed immigrant in Canada, took time out from his speech to note that were he able, he would vote Liberal.
Despite his clear advocacy of Hillier’s replacement, Edgar was unwilling to directly criticize Hillier’s speech before the House of Commons.
“I’m not going to tell you that (Gen. Hillier’s) speech to parliament was designed to help the party in power, which supports investing in the Canadian Forces; but I also won’t tell you it was not,” he said. “Just don’t trust everything he says.”
Officials from the Canadian Forces did not return repeated calls by press time.

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