__________________ ____________________  



In March of 1995, the inquiry into the actions of The
Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia was given its
mandate. Since that time, it has asked for two extensions
and was about to ask for another when the Minister of
National Defense, Doug Young, ordered that the inquiry
finish up and report by June of this year.(Smith 13 Jan 97)
What was to be a complete and thorough investigation into
wrong-doings in Somalia will be cut short before the
current government becomes too severely implicated. In
March of 1995, David Collenette, the Minister of National
Defense at that time, said, "This commission has a very
broad mandate and has wide sweeping powers."(Mansbridge 20
Sept 96) In September of 1995, he added, "Any allegations
relating to our deployment to Somalia will have to be laid
before the commission, and they will decide, in their
appropriate way, what is right and what is
wrong."(Mansbridge 26 Sept 96) This was a lie. The
commission will not be able to turn out a complete report
because it has been prematurely halted. The questions must
be asked, "Is this the best way to handle the situation?"
"Will the commission be able to provide some solutions to
the problems the forces are facing?" The Somalia inquiry
should not have been ordered to finish up and report
prematurely for the following reasons: too many questions
will be left unanswered, rumors of a cover-up will never be
put to rest, key witnesses will never be questioned, and
all the time and money spent thus far will have been wasted
because the inquiry will be unable to accomplish the task
it was formed to execute. 

The commission organized the questioning of witnesses in
three phases, the pre deployment phase, the deployment
phase, and the post deployment phase. All questions about
pre deployment were to be asked first. During this time, no
questions about deployment or post deployment were allowed;
since the inquiry was ordered to shut down when it was
midway through the deployment phase, many witnesses have
not told their whole story. In addition, since lawyers were
not permitted to ask questions about upcoming phases, many
parts of the whole story are incomplete or misleading.
Questions that would clarify these areas will never be
asked. Perhaps the government does not want these questions
to be asked, or these areas to be cleared up. Much of the
public believes that a cover-up was perpetrated at some
level during the Somalia scandal. The inquiry was just
about to investigate allegations that some of the shootings
in Somalia were "execution style killings." These
allegations were brought to light by Dr. Barry Armstrong,
one of the Canadian military doctors who served in Somalia.
In addition, Dr. Armstrong was ordered to destroy evidence
and remain quiet about the incident.(Armstrong CPAC 12 Mar
97) The governmental interference at this point in the
inquiry makes no sense, unless someone is trying to hide

Major Bonamicci, the military police officer sent to
Somalia to investigate these shootings, relates similar
attempts to keep him from reporting his findings to the
inquiry. He alleges that when he was about to tell the
inquiry what he had found, he was ordered not to report to
the inquiry. He was then fired from his position, and when
he went to get his files from his office he found that they
had been tampered with.(Bonamicci CPAC 3Mar 97) Once again,
these assertions will not be properly investigated because
the inquiry simply does not have time. In addition,
documents were changed so that they could not be accessed
by reporters using "freedom of information" requests. This
tampering of defense documents occured while the Liberals
were in power. Jean Boyle, a man the Liberals appointed
Chief of Defense Staff, was put in the "hot seat" at the
inquiry because of this tampering.(Smith 20 Nov 96) Many
people speculate that he was asked to resign over his
involvement in the tampering. However, before this can be
fully investigated by the inquiry, they will close their
investigation. The closure of the inquiry now also means
that some very important witnesses, who may have been able
to shed some light on the questions that need to be
answered, will never be called to testify. Among these are
Major Armstrong, Major Bonamicci, and, most importantly,
former Prime Minister of Canada, Kim Campbell. There are,
most certainly, others who would have been able to help the
inquiry find the truth, but they will never testify. The
total truth will never be known. Prime Minister Chretien
tried to pass off the decision to close the Inquiry as a
good idea that would save money. He said "Ask Mr. Young. I
guess he gave some good reason on that. Two years and $30
million later, he has a job to do and they want to have
another extension and another, and so on and so on."(Smith
13 Jan 97) The point here is that if the inquiry cannot
answer the questions they were formed to answer, if they
can't make useful recommendations that improve the way the
Canadian Armed Forces does business, then all the time and
money spent thus far has been wasted.
The general public feels that there is a leadership crises
in the armed forces today. This is the impression being
conveyed to them by the media. They see that, to date, the
only persons who have paid for the wrong-doings in 

are junior members of the forces. It seems that senior officers were able to hide behind their rank while a Private, a Master-corporal, and a Sergeant were sent to jail. It's no wonder morale is low in the forces. If the Somalia inquiry is not allowed to finish its investigation in its own time, it will be unable to make recommendations about how to improve leadership in the forces. The


inquiry should not have been ordered to close down because many questions will remain unanswered, rumors of a cover-up will never be put to rest, key witnesses will never be questioned, and all the time and money spent thus far will have been wasted because the inquiry will not be able to properly do its job. For the Liberals, this solves a big political problem. If the inquiry had continued its investigation, there may have been damaging revelations about the Defense Department under this Liberal Government. This is particularly important when we consider that the Liberals will probably call an election this year; now Mr. Chretien can blame the Tories for just about everything in the final report. Works Cited Armstrong, Barry. CPAC The Somalia Inquiry, 12 Mar. 97. Bonamicci, David. CPAC The Somalia Inquiry, 3 Mar. 97. Mansbridge, Peter. CBC-TV THE NATIONAL, Title "Swastika tatoos at Somalia inquiry." 20 Sept. 96. Mansbridge, Peter. CBC-TV THE NATIONAL, Title "Diary of a Canadian soldier in Somalia." 26 Sept. 97. Mansbridge, Peter. CBC-TV THE NATIONAL, Title "Drunk commanding officers in Somalia." 27 Sept. 97. Smith, Alison. CBC-TV THE NATIONAL, Title "Second senior officer charged." 20 Nov.96. Smith, Alison. CBC-TV THE NATIONAL, Title "Somalia inquiry commissioners speak out." 13 Jan. 97.



Quotes: Search by Author