Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
PM dishonours fallen soldiers
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 28 Apr 2006, p. 6

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PM dishonours fallen soldiers

Last month when Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan he declared, "I am behind you. Your government is behind you. And, most importantly, the Canadian people are behind you." However, Harper's action this week to bar the media from covering the return of slain soldiers to Canadian soil flies in the face of the pledge he gave to the troops. The PM's argument that the return of the soldiers' bodies is "a private family matter" is both unpersuasive and ludicrous. Transfers of this kind have long been a public military ceremony and the Canadian public has every right to share in the families' loss and to show their respect for the fallen soldiers. Harper's decision-- purportedly done without consulting military families-- is only the latest in a string of decisions by the PM to somehow control the media. It is a slippery trail the PM is walking and one he best rethink. While Harper was correct in restoring the tradition of keeping the flag at Parliament Hill at full staff and not lowering it each time a soldier is killed, he is sadly misguided in his move to bar the media from covering military funerals. Soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice representing this country abroad deserve full public recognition when they return home. They have earned the gratitude of the nation and for Harper to try and hide behind a "right to privacy" argument-- that military families have not said they support-- is shameful. Does Harper believe Canadians are unaware of the dangers our soldiers face abroad and that the Canadian public must be shielded from the horrible truth of war-- the fact that sometimes soldiers die? If so, he has sadly misjudged the public and not given Canadians enough credit. This is an issue of freedom of the press-- a basic democratic right and one that our soldiers over the generations have fought valiantly for. The PM would do well to remember that.

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PM dishonours fallen soldiers