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editorial

Pallbearers from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) pay their respects over the casket of Sergeant Andrew Doiron during the aircraft ramp ceremony at Erbil International Airport, Iraq.Canadian Armed Forces/Reuters

Has the Canadian government forsaken Andrew Doiron?

Sgt. Doiron, 31, was killed in a friendly fire incident on March 6 in Northern Iraq when Kurdish soldiers at a checkpoint opened fire on him and three other Canadian special forces operators. He was one of 69 Canadian special forces in Iraqi Kurdistan training local fighters to battle the Islamic State.

The murky circumstances of Sgt. Doiron's death have still not been explained to the Canadian public. The Department of National Defence said in March that there would be two investigations, one by the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command and one by military police. The DND also said the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State militants was investigating.

On Monday, we learned that the report was actually prepared by U.S.-led special forces and that it is now complete, but also that it won't be made public. Instead, the findings will be fed into the other two investigations.

And last week, a Globe and Mail reporter who went to the region in Kurdistan where Sgt. Doiron was killed was told by a Kurdish local working under vague circumstances for the DND that the case was closed. "The investigation is over," Farhang Afandi informed the Globe.

After Sgt. Doiron was killed, the Kurds blamed him and his fellow special forces operators for failing to provide the proper password as they approached a military checkpoint near the front lines. Defence Minister Jason Kenney said that wasn't true; that the Canadian soldier was 200 metres from the front and was fired on as he and his group approached an "observation post."

These contradictory versions have not been reconciled. Are the investigations into Sgt. Doiron's death being sacrificed to maintain good relations between Canada and the Kurdish government? Was he near the front or not? And was he calling in air strikes, as the Kurds say, or was he merely observing, as Canada insists?

The DND has a mechanism for investigating the death of a soldier that occurs under clouded circumstances. It's called a Board of Inquiry, and it's what is needed in this case. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has insisted that Canada must be at the forefront of the battle against IS. Fair enough. But if that's the case, then he and his government must be transparent about the role our soldiers are playing. Sgt. Doiron deserves at least that much.