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article imageService of Remembrance Speaker Ignites Controversy

By Bob Gordon     Nov 15, 2009 in Politics
Major-General (ret.) John Archibald MacInnis was the keynote speaker at Guelph's annual Service of Remembrance at the Sleeman Centre last Wednesday. Some of his remarks have ignited a firestorm of controversy.
Major-General MacInnis served in the Sinai, Cyprus and the Balkans before he retired in 1995. The Service organizers must have been very pleased when the Major-General agreed to speak at the Service. Major-General MacInnis served in the Sinai, Cyprus and the Balkans before he retired in 1995.
Initially, McInnis speech was anything but controversial. The Major-General focused on the fact that today when we honour veterans we should also “think of the troops in the field today, they are the veterans of tomorrow.” It seemed like a typical platitudinous and cliche-ridden memorial address.
Undoubtedly, the audience were caught off guard by the direction the Major-General's address then took. “In practically their own backyard.... In what was clearly a terrorist-sponsored act,” was MacInnis characterization of the Fort Hood Army base killing of 13 personnel by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan on November 5. The assertion that this 'was clearly a terrorist-sponsored act' is dubious at best. The U.S. Army has never made that claim. The law enforcement agencies involved have never made that connection. The official government position on this question remains that the shooter acted on his own with no connection to Al Queda or any other terrorist organization.
Interestingly, after MacInnis' address Guelph MLA Liz Sandals (Lib) and MP Frank Valeriote (Lib) were approached by Scott Tracey of the Guelph Mercury and asked about the 'terrorist-sponsored act' statement. Both claimed that had not been able to hear the Major-General's speech and, therefore, could not comment in a meaningful way.
Then on Saturday, November 14, 2009 the Guelph Mercury weighed in with an editorial on the issue entitled, “Speaker Should Clarify Comments.”
Their position was clear, prove it or retract it, "It’s wrong not to expect MacInnis to immediately provide evidence to support what he alleged at that assembly or to retract it unequivocally – particularly in light of that." Concluding, "his assertion lacked clarification or context. It lessens his credibility until that’s offered. Until there’s clarity about that incredible statement, the ceremony where it was offered will also be threatened as being lessened as well."
Strong words to use in reference to a retired officer. MacInnis has been unavailable to comment since the address at the Service of Remembrance
More about Remembrance, Terrorism, Guelph
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