Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Canada's Future In Afghanistan: Harper Takes A Stand, Dion Stands For Nothing

It looks like Harper isn't budging an inch on the mission in Afghanistan and, what's more, that he's willing to bet his government that Canada is with him. Good for him. As expected, Dion's taking the so-called "middle road," which is just a nice way of saying he has no convictions at all and just doesn't want to piss anybody off.

The Globe has the story:

Mr. Dion, who met privately with Mr. Harper on the issue Tuesday night, said he will try to reach an agreement with the Tories over what role Canadian troops will play in Afghanistan post-2009.

Mr. Dion said the Conservative motion, as it was explained to him by Mr. Harper, will make the mission extension contingent on 1,000 more troops and more military equipment from Canada's NATO allies, as recommended in the report from the panel led by former foreign affairs minister John Manley.

“We don't want the extension of the combat mission after February 2009. We don't think it's good for the mission,” Mr. Dion told reporters Wednesday after he met with his caucus.

“This being said, we want to play a role after and if there is a possibility for the prime minister to see a compatibility between the role we want to play and something that he might agree with, well then, we'll propose amendments.”


“We'll do it in a civilized way this time. We'll have the time to look at that. [Mr. Harper] doesn't want a vote on Afghanistan before the vote on the budget ... We'll do our best to convince the other colleagues in the House to come to our position.”


“Mr. Dion made clear the Liberal Party's long-standing position on the mission in Afghanistan, including our firm and unwavering belief that the combat mission in Kandahar must end by February, 2009,” said a statement released by Mr. Dion after the meeting ended late yesterday afternoon.


“The Prime Minister reiterated the government's position – that we are adopting the bi-partisan recommendations of the Manley panel – and that if we are unable to secure extra combat troops and equipment, Canada will not be extending the mission in Afghanistan,” said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.

Emphasis mine.

It's funny how the Canadian party system works out on issues like this. Harper is adament that we remain in Afghanistan, Layton wants our troops to drop their guns immediately and catch the first plane home, and Dion wants a little from column A and a little from column B.

Let's hope we get those troops.

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