Monday, April 10, 2006

The Afghanistan Debate

I called for a debate on our Afghanistan mission sometime back. After initially resistant to the idea, the Cons flip-flopped and the debate was held today. I watched the debate and came back with a sense of disappointment. The real issues facing the mission, namely consequences of our actions over there reverberating on Canada, the nature of the mission and the duration of the mission were rarely touched upon.

First, it was a shame and travesty that Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not attend the debate. He can find time to go for a photo-op to Afghanistan, but when it comes time to articulate our reasons for being there he is missing in action. If he is so passionately committed to our troops why is he not present in the first debate as PM to state that?

As expected, the Cons copied the Republican speechbook with phrases such as 'staying the course', 'supporting the troops', 'freedom and liberty to Afghans' while the Liberals just echoed ditto. It was actually the NDP and surprisingly the BQ that asked the tough questions, but got no answers.

I had a bit of a chuckle when Ignatieff spoke about his concerns over Canadian troops handing over detainees to the Americans and the fear of their torture. Asides that, these were specific questions to which I was looking for answers, but did not get them from this debate:

  1. What are the specific (military) goals of this mission?
  2. What happens if the Taliban decide to hit Canada in retaliation? Are there any plans to protect mainland Canada from their terro rism?
  3. What happens on February 2007 when the mission ends? Will there be a debate on any extension? Will there be a debate on the nature of a new mission?
  4. How are we protecting and enabling our soldiers currently over there to do their duties?

Unfortunately the whole debate was a show of optics from all concerned. The ones who asked the important questions, in my view, were the NDP, Michael Ignatieff, Ujjal Dosanjh and a couple of other Liberals. The Cons, the governing party, contributed nothing beyond rhetoric to this debate.

Tags: Canada Afghanistan


Prairie Kid said...

If Paul Martin had a few more "photo ops" with our troops, he might have recieved a few more votes. For you to call putting yourself in harm's way and staying with the troops in a tenuous situation a photo op is petty. Maybe you should switch parties and vote NDP from now on because your views are more NDP than Liberal. Your "hide your head in the sand" approach was also taken by the NDP in World War 2. How different would the world be today if Canada had not "stayed the course" in World War 2? And the Conservatives as the governing party (I know you hate to hear that) are not there to stoke the debate . . . rather to answer concerns other parties have. That's what question period is all about if you happen to watch it more than once a year.

mezba said...

There is no 'hide-in-the-sand' approach. All I am looking for is a few answers. As I said, I support the mission there. But the mission cannot be extended or modified extensively without Parliament approval.

wilson61 said...

1. Goals have been repeated at least 15 times, Coalition has successfully sent the Taliban packing, they troops are keeping them out & re=building schools...etc.
2. Fear of retaliation? More chance of getting shot in Totonto.
3. PMSH said we will be in Afstan for YEARS, in what form, the Cons haven't decided. Debate? Why, so the NDP can grandstand?
4. To the best of our military abilities, or do you want details, so the Taliban have a better chance?

decoin said...

Time to cut and run - fast - out of Afghanistan now! - leave those people to their own devices.

mezba said...

1. Really? We sent the Taliban packing? Wow - I guess Karzai can now get rid of his foreign bodyguards and venture beyond Kabul, eh?
2. Beyond arming border guards, is our intelligency being beefed up? What steps are being taken?
3. You cannot just decide to commit troops for YEARS without a parliamentary vote. Why should they be there in years? Who gave them the permission.
4. The Cons just said the Libs put them in Kandahar without armour. The Libs let that comment go. Why don't we get some Canadian air power (rather than depending on US). And if we are to wipe out the Taliban, we will need a lot more than 2000 soldiers.

Cutting and Running is not possible at this time.