Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dear General Natynczyk,

The individual in the foreground of the photo above is not what he would appear to be. With no other information, that would appear to be a leading seaman in the Canadian Navy. Except that it is actually the member of parliament for Edmonton - St. Albert, one Brent Rathgeber, Conservative Party of Canada, wearing the uniform of a Canadian naval sailor... complete with rank badges.

The photograph comes from his website.

This is becoming an all too common event among Harper MPs. Rathgeber is a lawyer. His accumulated military service appears to total - ZERO. And, though I hardly need to point it out, Mr. Rathgeber, in that photo is breaking the law. It is illegal to impersonate a member of the Canadian Forces and Rathgeber is clearly doing that. Not to mention that it is an insult to serving members of the Canadian Forces to have a non-combatant civilian, not subject to the Code of Service Discipline mock an official uniform: A uniform which others wear proudly and stripes which they have earned through adversity.

Given that Rathgeber sees fit to level accusations of wrongdoing against Canadian citizens who have neither broken any law or displayed any intent to break a law, yet were arrested in a vile spectacle of unrestrained abuse of police power, one might expect Rathgeber to pursue a pristine law-abiding life. Not one which, as is obvious from his own website, includes posing for the camera while illegally wearing an official CF uniform.

It is totally unacceptable that the members of Harper's caucus seem to feel they have the run of the Canadian Forces; that they can play with the troops, dress up like the troops and generally declare that they are the troops when the huge majority of them have never so much as considered crossing the threshold of a recruiting office - ever.

In short, General, kindly inform the members of the Harper government, by whatever means expedient, that the various uniforms of the Canadian Forces are not costumes to use and abuse at their pleasure.

And in this case, I speak for myself and every other former and serving leading hand who produced the sweat, worked endless hours and suffered to earn those rank badges.

Enough is enough.

Oh yes. Just in case Rathgeber suddenly disappears that page from his website, I have a nice shiny screen shot.

Hat Tip Alison.


Boris said...

I've been waiting to see what you'd do with this, Dave. Well done, sir.

s said...

So...what can be done about this? If the military brass are allowing this to go on without comment, it seems that sooner or later we will see every last friggin Conservative MP in military dress.

Dave said...

Ahem! Cough! Leaders of government and their peons who assume martial dress are generally indicative of a regime which intends to make war on its own population.


Scott MacNeil said...

Thanks for the heads up on this abuse of position. Here is what I posted via email on the arsehole's website:

"You may be are a duly elected MP who is entrusted to represent the people to the best of your ability - but this does not give you the right to don a Canadian military the uniform under any circumstances; especially for a cheap political PR exercise. Kindly take this picture down from your website, its continued presence on your site is a disservice to all our brave men and women who have actually earned their stripes through service and sacrifice. You Sir have not - act accordingly."

skdadl said...

Great post, Dave, every word.

double nickel said...

Not to mention that he doesn't appear to be "fighting trim".

Tom said...

Martha Hall Findley will be sharing the cell since she was also featured in pictures wearing naval uniform. This was because many members from all parties spent time with Canadian forces a few weeks ago.

Dave said...

Tom, she was wearing the requisite fire protective clothing demanded of persons staying onboard. You'll note that most MPs on the embed program did not wear rank badges. They're not entitled to them.

thwap said...

There's no accountability in this country but thanks for keeping track of stuff like this.

Maybe there'll be a final indictment later.

But my god, these dweebs do so like to play soldier dress-up don't they?

Dr.Dawg said...

Dave, well done.

Are there other examples of Harper's caucus playing Mr. Dress-up?

Boris said...

I wonder if he's broken any food handling regulations while he's at it?

Scotian said...

Now that's disturbing to see all right. To be wearing a uniform in full without the right to is bad enough, to then be using it as a political prop on one's website for whatever reason is truly contemptible, disgusting, disrespectful and to me at least an indication of a seriously dangerous fixation on things military (be it personal or political, either way not good for different obvious reasons). Any MP that is using such an image for political purposes (regardless of party, the uniform should not be a political prop for anyone unless they actually have legitimately served prior to becoming a politician, and even then I am not thrilled by it being so used) is showing contempt, not respect, and the fact that it is illegal to boot only underscores the CPC tendency towards one law for them, another for everyone else, something I had warned of ever since the party was formed.

Good post Dave, and one I cannot but agree with you on, this turns my stomach , and I never made it into the reg forces thanks to health issues in my late teens, just the cadets. Still though, this is simply offensive and as you said underscores something very disturbing about the CPC and its MPs that not only think this is acceptable but who I fear may even mean/think it a compliment when it most clearly is not. As with so much with this CPC party and government it is the image that matters to them to counter the reality that they truly represent, such as supposedly being such big supporters of the military when the reality is of their contempt and betrayal of veterans. What they claim they represent and what they are are more divergent than any prior government I know of in our history, exactly as I feared they would be all along. Being Cassandra really sucks, this sort of crap on top of it though feels very much like salt in the wound.

Dave, you say this is not a one time example of a CPC MP unlawfully and without ever having served showing pictures of themselves in full dress with rank pins and everything? I have to admit when I first saw this post of yours I was more than a little surprised to hear that even given my rather low opinion of the CPC caucus. Just utterly disrespectful and contemptuous of those that actually have worn the uniform IMHO *sigh*.

Gordie Canuk said...

Someone should at least tell him to fold the sleeves, not roll them...geesh, looks horrible.

Ed said...

I remember when Rathgeber went on board. Jack Layton was on board at the same time. Both MPs wore NCDs (Naval Combat Dress). It is quite common for civilians on board to where civilian clothes (DND civilians routinely sail in HMC Ships and do not wear NCDs). I mention that as a counter to the idea that they wore NCDs for safety reasons (i.e. they are NOMEX, etc)

So, if you are going to stick it to Rathgeber, do so and faster please, but you should probably give a little to Layton too.

However, Layton wore blank shoulder flaps while on board whereas Rathgeber wore killick stripes and left the ship as a Sub Lieutenant (yes, he wore the rank of a commissioned officer while carrying no commission from the Queen).

In his defense, I'm sure that he uniform was not his idea and likely he would have been happy to stay in civilian clothes. He was doing it because he was pressured to do so by the Public Affairs wankers, as was Layton.

Ed said...

Apologies for the typos.

Anonymous said...

Are there other examples of Harper's caucus playing Mr. Dress-up?

You have Adrian MacNair (or whatever he wants to be called this week) who was flown to Afghanistan on the PMs jet by the military... Something called " a familiarization tour of Afghanistan".

Given that MacNair is a "journalism student" one wonders about the government largesse in this case. How much of our taxpayers money was wasted on this little turd so that he could play soldier and regurgitate his special brand of Conservative idiocy...

You can see Adrian have a stiffy here:

It's not hard to see the little boy soldiers and their fallacies in full glory...

Unknown said...

hey guys, sure you make a point, and it is funny as hell to read people's rants about the fat guy in the little uniform, but I'm a little confused about some of the commentaries' "official" position towards Military. Some of you complain about the individual seemingly with the intent of support for the military and then make anti military and anti Government comments to follow up???
get on point and stay there.
signed, former member of the armed forces

Boris said...

Justin, I won't speak for my blogmates or other commentators but I will give you my view.

Commentary on the armed forces is not a zero sum game. I have no official position and will criticise and praise where I see fit. An uncritical view toward the military is a very dangerous thing and we can see evidence of where that leads in the subject of this post and in the major wars of the past century.

Our own armed forces has done disgraceful things and honourable things. Our political class and their supporters likewise in their behaviour toward the armed forces. Our taxes pay for the armed forces, our siblings, children and parents comprise its membership, and our political deploy it for better or ill.

What it does, what we do with it, must therefore be, like our government, open to critical discussion. It's how democracy works.

-signed, a former member.

Dave said...

Justin, I'll echo Boris' comment and add this:

You probably have greater real supporters for the individuals serving than anything across the aisle and certainly from within the Harper government.

You conflate anti-military and anti-government as the same thing in your question. They are not.

As for the military, they do as they are told. Simple. But when there is an obvious straying from the lanes, there is every reason they should be taken to task.

Most of us are pretty staunchly anti-Harper. That, however, is not reflective of views on many other subjects - the armed services included. I would go so far as to say we are neutral on the service itself, in favour of seeing the personnel receive the best treatment possible and highly skeptical of PMO-led initiatives like untendered multi-billion dollar purchases carried out without sufficient examination.

Perhaps you need to read what you see in a different tone. And by the way - a pencil-neck wearing a killick's rank badges is NOT funny.

Signed, a full career retiree and combat veteran.

kootcoot said...

Scotian said:

"...Any MP that is using such an image for political purposes (regardless of party, the uniform should not be a political prop for anyone unless they actually have legitimately served prior to becoming a politician, and even then I am not thrilled by it being so used)"

This is unacceptable to me and it is interesting to consider recent (century or less) experience in the US re: politicians exploiting the uniform of the military. Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and George Bush Sr., all veterans who served mostly in wartime ALL felt it was inappropriate to wear their military uniforms in civilian public life and didn't. The one exception was the younger, draft evading war criminal George W. Bush the Lesser who made GI Joe dolls passe and obsolete with his infamous pretend fighter jet mission to land just off San Diego (they had to watch the TeeVee camera angles so as not to show the San Diego skyline accidentally) to claim "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq - (by the way, the US still has troops there and people are still dying there, aren't they?)