Video breach turns military into Conservatives’ ‘whipping boy’: journalist

OTTAWA —Members of Canada’s military are beginning to feel a bit like the Conservative party’s “whipping boy,” says Scott Taylor, the editor of a magazine for and about the country’s military community.

The stark statement comes days after the Prime Minister’s Office admitted the Conservative government inappropriately published photos of Canadian soldiers on assignment in Iraq.

“They keep trying to serve this government’s interest and to put things forward that the government wants them to, even staging this elaborate photo-op and taking the prime minister and the defence minister over to Kurdistan Iraq, and then Kuwait,” Taylor said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark. “And then they end up getting thrown under the bus yet again when these videos surface.”

READ MORE: Stephen Harper’s video blog inappropriately posted soldiers’ images, PMO says

The images in question, included in Harper’s video blog series called 24/7, were believed to show too clearly the faces of some of the country’s special forces soldiers taking part in the anti-ISIS mission.

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A government spokesman initially said National Defence officials had reviewed and approved the footage prior to its publication, though that later turned out to be false.

Members of the media accompanying Harper last week were told to not show the faces of any Canadian soldier for fear of retaliation from ISIS.

READ MORE: Cost of anti-ISIS mission climbs to $528M, Jason Kenney says

Once it was revealed the government had potentially revealed the identity of a member of Joint Task Force 2, the most elite and secretive force in the Canadian military, there were questions of whether the mission and that member were compromised.

JTF2 blurred

The government said no, and said no members would have to return home on account of the breach.

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“I think the chief of defence staff was correct when he said that the fact they were only up there briefly means that the risk is fairly low,” Taylor said. “I don’t think that, personally, that ISIS is anywhere near as sophisticated a threat as we’ve been led to believe by this government.”

This is the first mission in which identifying even a “common” soldier is off limits, he said.

While that may be a little heavy handed, Taylor said, he’s of the mind the government has put the JTF2 member at risk. In order to operate effectively they have to be under the cloak of secrecy, he said.

“It’s always been the case since the unit was founded back in the early 90s, that we don’t identify who those people are,” he said.