This is the hallmark of the Harper government. When its members are pushed into a tight corner, they lash out at critics and political opponents, labeling them unpatriotic cretins who prefer the Taliban to Canada's brave soldiers. Meanwhile, they alone -- the Conservatives -- walk the lonely path of virtue, serving the nation in a difficult hour.
Even when they have been exposed as incompetents or liars engaged in a deliberate cover-up, the members of this government concede nothing. As far as they are concerned, there will be no independent inquiry into the detainee scandal.
Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay are cynically talking out the clock. The House of Commons is about to rise for the Christmas recess and will not sit again until the end of January. By that time, they hope, Canadians will have moved on to other concerns.
Watching Peter MacKay in Question Period and delivering testimony to the parliamentary committee has been instructive. He repeats the same answer over and over, stressing the virtue of our soldiers and the perfidy of the opposition parties. In the parliamentary committee, his opening statement went on so long that, aided by a couple of breaks for votes in the House, he only had to face a few questions from the committee members. In answering those questions, he typically returned to square one, describing the mission and its purposes, and saying next to nothing about the issues raised. Later, of course, the Conservatives will insist that they were compliant in cooperating with the committee, yet another reason why no special inquiry is needed.
The government is making the assumption that Canadians are too befuddled to follow the details of all of this. Harper and his colleagues believe that if they hunker down and stick to their line, nothing will harm them. They cynically believe that torture in Afghanistan is an issue that only concerns a few pointy-heads, not the majority of double-double drinking Canadians.
And then one fine day with another election, and a majority, the Conservatives won't ever have to listen to the nobodies on the other side of the aisle in the irrelevant "talking shop" that is Parliament.
Go here for an instructive timeline of quotes.