Prime minister hosts soldiers, families instead of MPs at 24 Sussex Drive

In the morning, Stephen Harper visited with families who lost loved ones in terrorist attacks. In the evening, he hosted the families of Canadian soldiers who are fighting to prevent such attacks in the future.

OTTAWA — In the morning, Stephen Harper visited with families who lost loved ones in terrorist attacks. In the evening, he hosted the families of Canadian soldiers who are fighting to prevent such attacks in the future.

What was supposed to be the prime minister’s annual garden party for the Conservative caucus Tuesday was replaced by an evening for Canadian soldiers and their families, most of whom have deployed to Iraq to take part in the international air campaign there.

The House of Commons had been scheduled to rise this week; the event at 24 Sussex Drive had been planned to mark the end of the session.

But when it became clear MPs would be headed home ahead of schedule, the Prime Minister’s Office shifted gears.

Harper told some Conservatives there was no point letting the arrangements go to waste, caucus sources told The Canadian Press, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they are not supposed to discuss what happens inside caucus meetings.

So soldiers and their families were invited instead.

The event was not publicized for security reasons and the Prime Minister’s Office declined to provide any details.

Tuesday marked 30 years since an explosion tore apart Air India Flight 182 en route to New Delhi, killing all 329 people aboard, most of them Canadians of Indian descent.

In 2005, the date was declared a national day of remembrance for victims of terrorism.

“It is no secret that we live in troubled times,” Harper said in a statement Tuesday.

“The world is now faced with an enemy who opposes the values we hold most dear: freedom, democracy, tolerance and openness. This enemy is violent jihadism and we cannot and will not ignore the threat it presents to Canadians here at home and abroad.”

Harper travelled to Iraq last month to see first-hand the Canadian contribution to the war against the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Some images filmed by his office there caused controversy when it became apparent they violated rules laid out for the media about obscuring the faces of soldiers, potentially putting them in harm’s way.

While the Department of National Defence later said there was no risk, the videos were still taken down.

NDP defence critic Jack Harris called the whole trip “reckless.”

“It seems to me that the additional special forces people who were brought there, any officials who were there, the prime minister himself would have been placed in a dangerous situation on the front lines where we know there have been incidents of return fire,” told a committee hearing last week.

“That seems to me solely to be done for the purposes of a photo op.”

At the same committee, Liberal MP Joyce Murray raised concerns about the costs of such trips, which she called “photo exercises.”

Defence Minister Jason Kenney said no one was in harm’s way, noting that prime ministers all the way back to Mackenzie King have travelled to visit soldiers serving overseas.

“(It’s) a regular expression of public solidarity for the work the military is doing,” he said.

Approximately 600 soldiers are currently part of the international air war in Iraq and in Syria.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour conducts drills during NHL hockey training camp in Morrisville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
NHL relaxing virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

The NHL is relaxing virus protocols for teams that reach a threshold… Continue reading

Canada skip Kerri Einarson directs her teammates against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson eliminated at curling worlds after 8-3 loss to Sweden’s Hasselborg

CALGARY — Canada’s Kerri Einarson was eliminated at the world women’s curling… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Ottawa will create a new digital platform to help in processing immigration applications more quickly and efficiently after COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a faster shift to a digital immigration system, the immigration department said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa to create new system to tackle delays in processing immigration applications

Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to help process… Continue reading

A man on a skateboard and a young woman pass large letters spelling out UBC at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on November 22, 2015. The federal government is writing off more than $200 million in outstanding student loan payments that officials will never be able to collect. Recently released spending documents show the government won't collect $203.5 million in debts from 34,240 students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan

VANCOUVER — A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing is set to start… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $25 million Lotto max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

Most Read