Here we go again

February 8, 2008

One of two things is about to happen.  We are either going to have an election, or the liberals are going to have to do some serious backpedalling.  Today the Government released it’s motion to extend the role in Afghanistan to 2011.  The most important feature of this motion (and I think the closest thing to an olive branch the Government is offering the opposition) is:

whereas the results of progress in Afghanistan, including Canada’s military deployment, will be reviewed in 2011 (by which time the Afghanistan Compact will have concluded) and, in advance, the government will provide to the House an assessment and evaluation of progress, drawing on and consistent with the Panel’s recommendations regarding performance standards, results, benchmarks and timelines; and
whereas the ultimate aim of Canadian policy is to leave Afghanistan to Afghans, in a country that is better governed, more peaceful and more secure;

therefore, the House supports the continuation of Canada’s current responsibility for security in Kandahar beyond February 2009, to the end of 2011, in a manner fully consistent with the UN mandate on Afghanistan, but with increasing emphasis on training the Afghan National Security Forces expeditiously to take increasing responsibility for security in Kandahar and Afghanistan as a whole so that, as the Afghan National Security Forces gain capability, Canada’s combat role should be commensurately reduced,

It then provides the two conditions that have been in the news from the Manley report.  Helicopter and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle support from allies and 1000 more troops from our NATO allies.

There are two things about this I want to comment on.  The first is the acknowledgement that should we leave in 2009 we will leave an unstable region to further destabilze.  Further to this the goal is for Canadian troops to play an increasingly supplementary role through 2011.  The goal is not to wait until 2011 to renew the mission but to work to 2011 to complete it.  As opposed to leaving in failure in 2009.

The second is what I found interesting in the commentary.  The government doesn’t see this as necessarily a winning proposition in the election.  It is believed that the Liberal party will actually gain support for opposing the conflict in Afghanistan.  Far be it for me to judge what is politics and what is not, but it looks as if this motion is something the Conservative party believes in.  Because if the Government falls on this motion they don’t stand to gain much.

(you can read the whole motion here)

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