Canadian PM Justin Trudeau Rebuffs Calls For Harjit Sajjan's Resignation
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rebuffed resignation calls for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan over his controversial comments over a 2006...
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rebuffed resignation calls for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan over his controversial comments over a 2006 offensive against the Taliban, media reports said. Mr Trudeau and Mr Sajjan endured a withering question-period offensive on Monday as opposition MPs accused the Canadian Defence Minister of "stolen valour" for overstating his role in planning Operation Medusa in Afghanistan, reports The Toronto Star.
Opposition parties trained their sights squarely on Mr Sajjan, who apologised again in the House of Commons.
The Operation Medusa was one of the bloodiest and most pivotal battles of the Afghan war.
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose called it a "cardinal sin" in the military circles for stealing valours of others.
"How much more does the Prime Minister need to hear before he understands why our men and women in uniform have lost confidence in the Minister," Ms Ambrose said.
Mr Trudeau, however, would not be moved from his talking points.
"The Minister made a mistake," the Prime Minister said repeatedly. "He acknowledged his responsibility and apologised for it; that's what Canadians expect when one makes a mistake," The Toronto Sun reported.
Mr Trudeau went on to insist that Mr Sajjan had served his country with distinction in a number of capacities, including as a police officer and as a soldier. As a Minister, he added, "He has my full confidence."
Mr Sajjan, for his part, later rose and repeated his apology.
However, his apology did little to assuage the opposition, with both the Conservatives and the Democratics calling on Mr Trudeau to sack him.
"It's not an error when you keep repeating the same lie," New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair said after question period.
In speech in New Delhi on April 18, Mr Sajjan told a think tank that he had been the "architect" of Operation Medusa, which the Minister has since retracted.
"On my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was kind of thrown in an unforeseen situation and became the architect of an operation... where we removed about 1,500 Taliban fighters," Mr Sajjan said in his speech.
The Canadian Defence Minister was a Major with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan during Operation Medusa, and received a special commendation.
Hundreds of Taliban terrorists were killed or captured over a two-week period. Twelve Canadians were also killed in the fighting.