I love sleeping in a cuddly tangle with Duncan. He’s like a big teddy bear, only he purrs and he cuddles back. The only problem with sleeping with a 22 pound pussycat is that when he has a nightmare, he turns into a rigid, flailing octopus with razor-sharp claws. All he wants is to eject himself from the bed, but his arms and legs are scrambling in all directions, seeking purchase, and all his claws are fully extended.
It happened so quickly. A second or two. Then GC turned the light on to inspect the damage. I had a scratch on my inner arm, a scratch on my abdomen, and three puncture wounds on my face – one on my cheek, one on my eyelid, and one on my nose, about a hair’s breadth from my tear duct.
There was blood on me, blood on the floor, and even a little blood on GC’s knee. (It sounds like a scene from In Cold Blood, doesn’t it? Okay, there was blood all those places, but not a lot. It wasn’t a bloodbath or anything like that.)
Poor Duncan was sitting in the hallway looking traumatized, and he wouldn’t let me talk him into coming back to bed right away. Finally he jumped back in, snuggled back up, and started licking my wounds.
Here he is, sleeping on the couch under a newspaper, like a homeless cat.Look at that, he’s sleeping under the article about Colonel Serge Labbé. Did you read that on the front page of the Citizen on Saturday? Basically, Conservative Defence Minister Peter McKay decided to give the Colonel an 8-year retroactive promotion to the rank of Brigadier-General right before he retired.
This was the same Colonel who failed so spectacularly in Somalia. Remember the 16-year-old Somalian kid who was tortured to death by Canadian peacekeepers, who took trophy pictures during and after? One of those photographs is permanently etched in my brain. It was one of the most disturbing images I’ve ever seen. It changed how I felt about my country.
Anyway, that incident – and the attempted cover-up – happened on Colonel Labbé’s watch, and I believe absolutely that that kind of behaviour had to be at least tacitly sanctioned by those in charge in order for it to have become part of the culture on that base. It wasn’t an isolated incident either. There were other incidents, one where food and water were used as bait to lure Somalians kids onto the base, whereupon they were murdered by Canadian peacekeepers.
Labbé wasn’t promoted back then because it was determined he had exercised poor and inappropriate leadership and had failed in his duties as a commander.
But in 2008, shortly before his retirement, a review of Labbé’s file was quietly ordered by General Rick Hillier, and Labbé was subsequently – and very quietly – promoted with eight years retroactivity. In addition to the retroactive pay, he was also awarded performance bonuses based on ‘estimates of what type of performance rating he might have received.’
Once word got out – someone tipped off the Citizen, who ran the story last summer – the Defence Department ordered that no interviews be given on the subject. Only carefully vetted written responses were provided. This effectively limited media coverage by excluding television, which cut the story off at the knees.
I don’t know why I keep being surprised that things like this happen in Canada.