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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sajjan Faces Continued Criticism Over MEDUSA Claims

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

It was another tough day for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

He tried to change the channel Wednesday with a speech that bluntly outlined the problems that the Canadian military and the DND face as far as money and resources.

But most of the questions he faced from journalists were still about his Op Medusa claims.

As readers know, in an April 18 speech during his trip to India, Sajjan made this claim about Operation Medusa: “On my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was kind of thrown into an unforeseen situation and I became the architect of an operation called Operation Medusa where we removed over, about, 1,500 Taliban fighters off the battlefield. And I was very proud to be on the main assault of that force,” he said.

Claiming to be the architect of Medusa was seen as an embarrassing exaggeration by some and by others as a blatant lie. Over the last several days Sajjan has been called out by military personnel as well as members of the public. Sajjan issued a clarification/statement of regret but that didn’t seem to quell the anger.

On the weekend he issued an apology on his Facebook page.

That hasn’t done much to ease the situation.

The Conservatives are continuing their strategy of raising questions about Sajjan’s credibility. They have pointed to the Op Medusa “architect” claims and statements that Canada’s allies had no issues with the pull-out of CF-18s from the Iraq campaign, when they clearly did.

The NDP have raised questions about conflict of interest in regard to the Afghan detainee issue. As minister, Sajjan, an Afghan war veteran, decided against an inquiry into allegations of abuse of detainees. But the NDP argue he may have had indirect/direct knowledge of detainee issues so he could be in a conflict of interest on making a decision against an inquiry.

Parliament’s ethics commissioner gave Sajjan a clean bill of health on this file.

But the commissioner is now reviewing a request by NDP leader Tom Mulcair to reconsider her decision.

All this means that Sajjan will be in the news for the next little while.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is said to like Sajjan and has, for now, stood behind him.

How long will that last?

One potential scenario is that Sajjan will stick around long enough to deliver the Liberal government’s new defence policy. And then a short time later he will leave in a cabinet shuffle.