Hillier unplugged

General Rick Hillier (left), Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, was in Ottawa today and met with reporters for the first time since — well — since a whole lot of news has broken. Since he last met with reporters, the following has happened:

Hillier figured prominently on today’s edition of Mike Duffy Live and is a leading player in some stories we have planned for tonight’s CTV National News. Here’s some of what he had to say today:

  • On torture allegations
    • “Allegations are just that – allegations. The governor has been doing some phenomenal work in Kandahar province. We have worked with him because he is the governor there and we have seen some incredible changes in the province and if there’s an issue of any kind of impropriety whatsoever, that’s an issue for the afghanistan government.
    • You know that we had a temporary stopping of transfer of detainees and we continue to conduct our operations. We want to get back to a resumption of those transfers as soon as possible.
  • On NATO
    • “All of the chiefs of the defence staff that I deal with at NATO are almost all deeply frustrated. They recognize the mission requires the right number of soldiers to be able to do it.”
    • “It’s the political masters, the political leaders in those countries who are gonna have to set NATO up for success for this mission… and Canada is simply the leading edge of the spear.”
  • The Liberal position is that Canada’s combat mission must end in 2009, but a training mission might be OK. Hillier’s reaction?
    • “If you’re in Kandahar, you’re going to be in combat operation. The Afghan army is not yet capable enough to handle security by itself. If it was, we would already have completed our job. If you’re there, you’re going to be in the middle of a firefight, one way or another.”
    • “President karzai has said Kandahar is his centre of gravity and as Kandahar goes the rest of the country goes and that’s where the need is right now. The need is not in the north or the west or the north east. The need is in the south or the east.”
  • On the Manley Report
    • “At the end of this, whatever we do in the end of Feb. 2009, we gotta be able to look in the eyes of those families whose soldiers have been lost here and so they understand from our point of view that their sacrifice, that the loss of their loved one … has not been in vain. and I think that whatever solution canada comes up with, that will be the measure that I’ll use.”
  • On his relationship with Harper and the PMO
    • “Very good. Had a discussion with him about the Manley panel. Relationship is solid and good, as it has been since he became PM.”
  • On Buckler’s comments
    • “I was on that beach. No one did anything on my behalf. I would not phone the PM’s office. I am the Chief of Defence Staff of Canada. If I had a significant issue, I would phone the PM.”
    • “I was on the beach in the Dominican Republic and I had a little break and I heard about that and —- can I say without everyone beating up on me across canada — I was on my third rum-and-coke and I really didn’t give a damn.
  • On the Leafs
    • “I want to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Canadian Forces appreciation night to beat the Ottawa Senators.”


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