- The Washington Times - Friday, April 26, 2002

TORONTO As one of the four Canadian soldiers accidentally killed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan was carried to his grave in a flag-draped coffin, many Canadians are asking why the American pilot fired his missile into a training exercise and whether the full truth will ever come out.

At Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer's funeral, his sister Suzette Wright conceded it was difficult not to feel angry that her brother was killed by the "friendly fire" of an American pilot.

"He should never have died the way he died. If he had died fighting [the enemy], we could have grieved in a different way," she said.

Anger over the April 18 death of the four Canadian soldiers the first killed in combat since the Korean War has subsided somewhat.

On Tuesday, Canadian Defense Minister Art Eggleton tried to soothe the national wound by announcing that Canadian Brig. Gen. Marc Dumais would act as co-chairman of the joint U.S.-Canadian inquiry into the event.

"That means he will have full authority to be able to ask questions, to be able to participate to the fullest extent and, at the same time, to be able to make recommendations" before he co-signs the report, Mr. Eggleton said.

Gen. Maurice Baril, the retired former chief of Canada's Defense Staff who is heading a parallel Canadian inquiry, said the U.S. decision to appoint a Canadian co-chairman with full authority was "unprecedented."

"This is a mark of confidence in Canadians as equals," he said.

Indeed, last year when a liaison officer from New Zealand was killed by a U.S. jet on a training exercise in Kuwait, officers from New Zealand and Kuwait were part of the inquiry into that accident, but they were not full members.

Gen. Baril's tone marks a sharp departure from Canadian reaction in the days immediately following the soldiers' deaths.

For Canadians, President Bush's failure to mention the deaths in four public appearances on the day the news broke, and then only addressing it on a golf course when pressed, seemed yet another snub by the president.

Commentators also recalled Mr. Bush's failure to mention Canada among the 20 nations he cited in his speech to Congress after the September 11 terrorist attacks to Congress, despite the hospitality shown to thousands of American airline passengers stranded in Canada when U.S. skies were closed.

Canadians are also angry at Mr. Bush's decision to impose huge tariffs on Canadian lumber.

However, not all Canadians see the deadly foul-up as an indictment of the U.S. military.

Leon Benoit, an opposition politician with the conservative Canadian Alliance Party, said he was pleased by the U.S. response and its inquiry.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide