I remain perplexed at the media and the public’s fascination with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. It is true that he has seen a full and fair share of military service, including active service, and he had received many awards and honours for it.
But, and I know I’m repeating myself, “medals do not a minister make.”
Now there is an article in the Ottawa Sun by David Krayden, a former Air Force public affairs officer, that seems, to me, to fall into the trap of assuming that, just because he has military experience, Harjit Sajjan must be uniquely well qualified to be the minister of national defence. I repeat: if military experience and medals were the criteria then, surely, Andrew Leslie, a lieutenant general, not just a lieutenant colonel, must have been Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s choice for minister …
… after all, that’s a much more impressive “rack” of medals. I think there must have been some other reason that the PM picked Harjit Sajjan to be the minister of national defence, and I don’t know what criteria he used to make his selection, because, to be fair, Leslie is the more impressive military man.
There have been other military men in the defence minister’s post. Some, like Gordon O’Connor and George Pearkes, actually got something done … controversially in both cases …
… and George Pearkes earned a VC! That trumps, by far and away, any and all the medals and honours that Minister Sajjan has.
There have also been distinguished military men, like Andrew Leslie’s grandfather, General Andrew McNaughton, who had lots of medals, too, and did rather poorly, to be charitable, in politics.
So, why this fascination with Harjit Sajjan?
My fear, for him, is that too many people have too high expectations that he cannot, especially not in this government with this prime minister, hope to satisfy. He is not, I suspect, anything like as able as, say, Brooke Claxton, and I’m not sure that sort of ability, or even the moral and political courage that Pearkes displayed, is necessary right now. But, all the same, I wonder: why is he being painted as a superman? I’m perplexed.