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An embarrassment to the government.

STAND ON GUARD FOR THEE. SOME just sing these words. Canadian military planners take them to heart. Threats are everywhere, Canada. You need only look around, or in some cases, close your eyes and imagine. No, we're not talking about al Qaeda. We're not talking about the Russians. And the red menace of China is but a hump in the dark compared to the terror Canada now faces. Well, not Canada per se, but its government. It's the threat of embarrassment! And our military is ready.

As recently outlined by defence journalist and Esprit a Corps regular David Pugliese, the mandarins at National Defence have been ahead of the curve identifying what might put the Harper Government [TM] in danger. Specifically, they busied themselves documenting what might put Harper and his ministers in danger during the G8 and G20 meetings back in 2010. They tallied up the usual suspects, from terrorist groups to separatists of indeterminate origin. Then there were the foreign spies, the protestors, and criminals who might have attacked not just the lives, but the very sensibilities of our cherished federal administration.

But let us all be grateful those professionals of paranoia didn't stop there. They identified what is the primary, and many would say, most terrifying, threat of this young century: embarrassing the government. Be it denial through fear, or a coordinated campaign by media elite, it is a threat that has been left to grow like a toxic weed.

It is a crime against Harperism that can be found just about everywhere. Pundits and interest groups continually and maliciously point out inconsistencies in government policy, citing embarrassing Conservative backtracks on accountability, spending, policy and military support. Average citizens do the unthinkable and speak publicly about how the government they voted for has turned on them. Veterans purposely wallow in poverty and poor health, and people conjure up daily examples of employment that really aren't good, even if you're Jim Flaherty. And our Canadian wildlife has taken such wanton belligerence even further, slaughtering themselves in spiteful droves to make the government's energy policies look bad. Pox on all your houses (or nests as the case may be)!

It's a threat that has spread beyond our very borders. Time and again the malevolent international community of interest groups, diplomats, and politicians goes out of its way to bring embarrassment to bear on our treasured government. When our prime minister wants to talk trade, they want to talk human rights. When he wants to talk prosperity, they talk about global warming. His words of wisdom in all things economic are shunned and ridiculed by cantankerous Europeans. The UN took our Security Council seat away. The foreign press openly wonders what Canadian voters were thinking. How dare they!

Sadly, as far as the rot has spread, it has just as deeply set in. The government's own ministers have betrayed it. They fall asleep in parliament and committee meetings. They call people names and stamp their feet in parliament. Some even openly question the wisdom of such important and seminal legislation as the current omnibus budget Bill C-38, such as Conservative MP David Wilks. Some suggest it was a brief moment of candour in an otherwise cowed and muzzled caucus. But we know better.

The military need look no further than their own minister. Time and again Defence Minister Peter MacKay has, with what many suspect has been with malice of forethought, made his government look like a fool. He spends tens of thousands on a multimedia presentation to get what he referred to as a "hero shot" at the controls of an F-35. He hitches a ride with search and rescue and then uses the air force's government dollars to announce the need for spending more government dollars. And when it comes to spending announcements, he flubs his numbers, declaring the recent mission in Libya cost half of its hundred-plus million dollar price tag. Merely incompetence, you say? Perhaps the actions of a privileged child with too much money and power? Again, we know better.

We know better thanks to those true patriots at National Defence who saw the threat and spoke truth to power when nobody would. The threat is embarrassment, an embarrassment of the government. It runs deep and wide, in all levels of our society, even beyond our shores, perpetrated by our "allies" and foes alike. Embarrass Stephen Harper! It's a rally cry that sends shivers down the spine.

The only question that remains is whether anything can be done to stop it? We can only hope our military is drawing up the answers.

Michael Nickerson is a freelance writer and satirist based in Toronto. His website is
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Title Annotation:COMMENTARY; National Defence
Author:Nickerson, Michael
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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