Friday, January 05, 2007

Khan Optics Bad For Dion

I have said it before, and have no problems repeating it here: Khan was wrong to work for the Conservatives, and Bill Graham should not have allowed it to happen. Now, however, the optics of the situation makes Stephane Dion look very bad. And in politics, optics and perception is a big part of the game.

Dion is casted as the villain in this piece, when he allegedly gave an "ultimatum" to Wajid Khan. And Khan therefore stated that he had to choose between his country and his party. In reality, the choice, in my opinion, was between the position of just another backbench MP, or a backbench MP with a "special advisory" position.

Dion should have offered Khan a future cabinet position (as either in "special advisory capacity" to the Foreign Minister, or some other junior cabinet post in that capacity). And no, it's not a bribe. We are offering him that position for the same purported expertise that Harper has made Wajid Khan his special advisor.

Personally, I don't like Wajid Khan.

In my own opinion, Khan has no unique characteristics that makes him suitable for that role. So he is Muslim, of Pakistani descent, and was a member of the Pakistan Air Force. How does that make him better qualified than anyone else? We have lots of academics, and one can easily pick another academic of South Asian descent, preferably Muslim. The Pakistani air force that he is so proud of, and where Khan served as an officer and pilot from 1966 to 1973 [source], was part of the same Pakistani military that committed genocide in 1971, as documented vigorously since. Wikipedia also states Khan actively took part in the war of 1971. As a Canadian Muslim of Bangladeshi descent I want him to clarify his role in that war and ask whether he had any innocent Bengali blood on his hands.

As a Muslim, had I lived in his riding, I would have to seriously question how he was best serving my interests. In my opinion, we have a Prime Minister who is so pro-Israel that he cannot acknowledge the poverty and destitution of Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank, the fertile breeding grounds for terrorism. Harper also refuses to acknowledge reality in Afghanistan, that our mission cannot go on as planned and we need a change in direction. So how much of Wajid Khan's advice is Harper taking? And what is his advice?


Annie said...

I do not see what Dion could have done, as Khan said he loved the job that Harper gave him, and wantd to stay on, so that is where he is now.
I hope his constituents fry him, but the Liberal campain chairman in his riding seems to like him. He can't be much of a Liberal either.
Isn't Khan's a Liberal riding and nothing else?
If so he has had it. I feel sorry for Dion, left to cope with this turncoat.

William said...

If more Liberals worked with Harper, instead of against him for the sake of being against him, they would appreciate (as Khan has) that Harper is the only politician in this country who has the guts to stand up for what our country needs.

The Liberals are so busy changing their opinions on this, that and the other thing every day, that it can't surprise anyone that Khan would follow his heart and join a party that stands up for true liberal values.

Scott Tribe said...

Dion did the right thing.. he needed to show that he was either working for the Liberals or for the Conservatives, and he's now done so.

Offer him a Cabinet spot? You've got to be kidding. That would set a bad precedent for everytime we had a disenchanted MP coming up and threatening virtual blackmail if he didnt get a plum position.

As I've already stated at my blog, as far as I'm concerned, we can throw one of the Leadership candidates in there weho didnt have a seat, or a strong local person, and we'll win back the seat. There is no way that seat goes Conservative and Khan wins re-election again.

mezba said...

Annie: I understand your view, but if Dion indeed told him to choose between serving the Prime Minister as advisor and serving the Liberal Party, that's bad optics. Most people will say what's wrong with parliamentarians serving Canada besides their party. It should have been opposed at the beginning, but now once the horse is bolted, why did Dion have to force him to make a choice (if he indeed did issue that ultimatum)? Why not just let sleeping dogs lie?

William: "only politician in this country who has the guts to stand up for what our country needs" obviously you believe that as a Conservative and I don't agree with you.

Harper should get his own people to work with South Asians and get his own experts from his own party. Not only will it make the Conservative party more mainstream, but it would be good for Canada. Rather, now, can you point to three high profile visible minorities in the Tories who have good cabinet positions?

Scott: Dion should just not have said anything. Come election time, had we won, the whole issue would have been moot anyways. Now one whole formerly safe riding (Khan's) comes into play.

Bob Rae would get crucified in Wajid Khan's riding.

Brian in Calgary said...


As a Conservative, I understand your views. I agree with you on how Dion should have handled it. The optics are not good for him. I think Bill Graham admitted that, as Interim Leader, he didn't want to play the villain when Khan made his request last year.

However, I see nothing wrong with a political leader (Mr Harper) who is willing to take formal, good advice no matter if the source is from an opposing party (assuming the reason for the advice has a non-partisan purpose).