Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Interesting perspective on the Ryan Sparrow affair

This morning on The Sudbury Star’s Web site, Claire Hoy had an interesting perspective on what many consider a major political gaffe on the part of Tory spokesman, Ryan Sparrow.

Writing about Nova Scotian Jim Davis and his remarks concerning Stephen Harper’s policy to pull our troops from Afghanistan by 2011—Davis’s son, Cpl. Paul Davis, was killed in Kandahar in 2006—Hoy states:

“This doesn’t mean he’s [Davis] not heartbroken about his son. Of course he is. Nor does it disqualify him from speaking. It may sound crass—it's not meant to be—but his terrible personal pain doesn’t give him a special, unassailable view of the war, not in the middle of an election campaign and certainly not when he’s actively working against the guy he savagely attacked.” 

Hoy’s conclusion is:

Ryan’s e-mail wasn’t a “gaffe” at all. It was a communications pro reminding CTV of Journalism 101, that while airing a partisan attack during an election campaign it had a duty to reveal all the relevant information.

Ryan should have been commended, not publicly humiliated.

I write this sincerely believing that there are few if any sacrifices a Canadian family can make that are the equal of the loss of a family member in a war.

On the one hand, having one’s child die in a war does not automatically imbue one with unassailable moral authority. Nor does it give one blanket immunity from criticism when one enters a heated debate in the middle of an election.

On the other hand, Mr Davis has more reason than most to speak out on the war and government policies surrounding it. And he has the right to do so without having his motives impugned. Better to rebut his words, and leave his motives to his own conscience.


  1. You can be sure that if this were reversed (Lib strategist sending email to Tory who had child killed); it would have been reported and would have poo pooed as partisan.

    A good example (although definitely not in the same league as someone's dead child) is the whole Danny Williams threats exposed by the Tories being poo pooed because - well, it's just Tories speaking out; and then the person would be smeared - "after all, he poached some fish years ago".

  2. When the issue first came up, I was surprised at the severity of Ryan's "punishment" when I felt it was a political statement. All parties must be gun shy when it comes to "politically incorrect statements/gaffes". In Harper's defense he was so roundly criticized in previous elections for letting these kind of issues fester.

    first time poster on your site - love your pictures ... cheers