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Perceptions on the Hill over the Afghanistan positions.

So I was chatting with one of my acquaintances up on the Hill who observes the Parliamentary goings-on for a living, and I asked that person what they made of the Conservatives issuing a press release last evening on Bill C-3 (dealing with the new revised security certificates that the Supreme Court struck down last year), which more or less said the Liberals would be weak on Canadians public safety if they don’t pass the Conservatives version of that bill.  I said it seemed a rather silly move by the PMO to make going after the Liberals when Harper was supposed to be meeting Dion today to try and persuade him to follow his stance on Afghanistan and the Manley Report; I didn’t think it would exactly ease chilly relations with that type of a release.

The response I got from this person was interesting: the opinion given back was that it was that person’s belief that Harper really doesn’t want Dion to agree with him – that he wants to be able to blame Dion and the Liberals for “forcing” him to end the combat mission in Afghanistan, and thus try to neutralize it as an election issue for him.

I said I found that interesting, because of Layton’s press conference yesterday and some NDP bloggers basically now saying to everyone who would listen that Dion was moving closer to Harper’s position (and Layton was being silly I opined, because everyone has predicted, including me, that Dion and the Liberals would never agree to pulling troops out immediately, and that’s been their position for a while).

The reply to that from the observer was equally interesting:  In their opinion, Layton, like Harper  is also playing politics with this issue; the NDP is following their policy of trying to destroy the Liberals in advance of the next election than in — well, pretty much anything else. The opinion ended with the observation that Layton probably would have been horrified if Dion *had* agreed with him.

Take it for what it’s worth, but as I said, it’s from an observer on the Hill… and it means Dion and the Liberals will have to tread very carefully. If the NDP want to end the combat portion of the mission, they will have to quit playing politics (if that is indeed what they’re up to) acknowledge that they and the Liberals have differences on when the combat portion ends, and then ask the Liberals to help defeat the Cons version of wanting to stay.

As for Harper, I don’t trust him more then I can throw him. Dion has made his position clear that the combat portion of this mission will end in 2009 if the Liberals have their way, so I don’t see what Harper will offer to Dion to get him to agree to an extension. If Harper comes out of his meeting with guns ablazing about how the Liberals and Dion are being inflexible or won’t support a Liberal-led panel recommendation, I suspect my observer friend’s opinions on this will be proven right.

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10 comments to Perceptions on the Hill over the Afghanistan positions.

  • Ignatieff faction will freak out.

    And you know we can’t have that. :p

  • And I’d caution you, JB, on presuming Dion will be making a deal with Harper.

    I hope he doesn’t cave, Scott. Con’s showing poor diplomatic tact? Surely, you jest.

  • You guys shouldn’t be so hard on Wilson or look so agog at what she’s posting. She’s just doing what she has been doing for the past couple of years on progressive and Liberal blogs; put in some good old volunteer work for the Stephen Harper Constituency office in Calgary to spread their spin on their political rival supporter’s comments section. This is typical Con. blather from her.. and I keep telling her to go back to the constituency office to get some new talking points or at least get some advice on how to vary the spin.. but she hasn’t listened to me so far.

    And I’d caution you, JB, on presuming Dion will be making a deal with Harper. If I read the live-blogging from Kady O’Malley today at Committee, the Cons. are already taking potshots at Dion over Afghanistan… so I presume either they don’t expect Dion will agree to Harper’s position, or else they still are showing poor diplomatic tact.

  • Straw men:
    "And Canada has no corruption,  no drug trafficing problem,  no gangs, no graft, every Canadian is treated like Royalty."

    I never claimed that. Why are you putting words in my mouth?

    "You howl with outrage about the production and trafficing of drugs in Afghanistan,  and then howl with outrage about our government cutting off the supply of drugs to addicts at insites in Vcr."

    I neither howl nor have I weighed in on the safe injections site.  Why are you putting howls in my mouth?

    "you want Afghan to stop growing poppys and the Canadian government to be complicite in Afghanistan growing the poppy by purchasing it?"

    There is a large untapped legal market for medical  poppy production. See  http://www.greenparty.ca/en/policy/documents/P4M

    “This may be the only chance Afghanistan has to solve its drug problem, while providing a pragmatic and dynamic solution to its future peace, and meeting the vital public health objective of supplying essential medications to the developing world.” The Lancet
    UK medical journalGet real? Face reality and quit burying your head in the sand. Things are not going swimmingly in Afghanistan. Manley said so. Two separate US studies also said so. Keep up with the fantasy that we’re doin’ a heckuva job and we’re making real progress. The Germans categorically rejected a souther combat role. NATO is on the verge of losing this war and all you can do is make excuses while ignoring reality.

    BTW, the green Party is the only party in Canada that is experiencing growth. That’s because Canadians are taking a good look at our policies and platform. Those with preconceived ideas who can’t be bothered to read up on just what the Green Party is all about will continue to make uninformed and laughable statements like yours. As far as why we haven’t elected a member, that goes straight to our antiquated electoral system. If Parliament was proportional, there’d be 13 GPC MP’s sitting today. We are polling 3-4% higher than the Bloc and neck and neck with the NDP. GPC support comes from all across the country and not from concentrated regions like the BQ or Reform/Alliance/CPoC.

    If you want to speak from a position of knowledge, take a couple hours and read Vision Green.

    You’re going to find that, fiscally, the GPC has much more in common with the Cons and Grits than with the NDP. Some Dippers even refer to the Greens as a right wing party.

    JB

  • "And Canada has no corruption,  no drug trafficing problem,  no gangs, no graft, every Canadian is treated like Royalty."

    Wow, nice straw man Wilson. No one actually said this. But to indulge you, in the big picture, we may have all of these, but no where near as a bad as Afghanistan. I know the Harper Conservatives are trying hard to drive us that way, but we aren’t there yet.

    " How much of the Afghan poppy seed production goes to safe injection sites in Vancouver."

    Hopefully all of it. At least then it wouldn’t end up killing people via hep and HIV.

    " You howl with outrage about the production and trafficing of drugs in Afghanistan"

    No, he countered your allegation that we were there to fight the opium trade. He merely shows that if that were the case, we are failing and failing miserably. Last I heard, we were supposed to be catching Bin Laden. No success there either.

    "See why you aren’t taken seriouslys, you want Afghan to stop growing poppys and the Canadian government to be complicite in Afghanistan growing the poppy by purchasing it?"

    You’d rather the profits go to the Hells Angels or Al Queda? Again, he never said he wanted Afghanistan to stop growing poppies, he merely pointed out that if that is one of the reasons we are there (and I think that is a post hoc justification) then we are failing because its not happening – its actually much worse, not better. The Green Party position, if I recall, it to purchase all that opium for the production of morphine and codeine for use in legit pharmaceuticals, not try to force farmers from growing their most profitable cash crop.

    I say, legalize it, take the profits out of the hands organized crime, gangs and other narco-traffickers and watch the price drop. We won’t have a problem then, it won’t be profitable enough for crime.

    The only one who is pretending there isn’t a problem with Afghanistan and the Karzai government is you. If anyone is out of touch with reality, its you.

    Unless you like supporting thugs and killers, then, by all means, continue your blind support of this war.

  • wilson

    And Canada has no corruption,  no drug trafficing problem,  no gangs, no graft, every Canadian is treated like Royalty.

    That is why the Greens have never won a seat in Parliament.  As soon as Canadians start looking hard at the party,  they see you are unrealistic. Fairy tale expectations. 

    The Taliban kept poppy production under control,  using deadly force. 
    How much of the Afghan poppy seed production goes to safe injection sites in Vancouver.
    You howl with outrage about the production and trafficing of drugs in Afghanistan,  and then howl with outrage about our government cutting off the supply of drugs to addicts at insites in Vcr. 
    See why you aren’t taken seriouslys, you want Afghan to stop growing poppys and the Canadian government to be complicite in Afghanistan growing the poppy by purchasing it?

    From your high horse you rant about 90% of the aid to Afghanistan being siphoned off in graft and corruption, 
    jumping back on that high horse you scream blue bloody murder about more aid
    MUST go to Africa when 90% of the aid to Africa is being siphoned off in graft and corruption.

    Get real. 

      

  • "…how realistic is it to expect that 4 years in Afghanistan and we would end govt corruption, eradicate the poppy trade, drag a 16th century mentality into the 21st century on human rights, and turn the most dangerous area in the world into a land of peace and harmony?"

    It might be tough to end government corruption but considering the fact that the West installed Karzai and continues to be the only reason he is able to maintain power, we should be seeing improvement. We’re not. It’s getting worse, not better.

    Eradicate the poppy trade? When in 2001, poppies grown in Afghanistan accounted for less than 30% of world production. Now, it’s 93%. THat’s not progress towards eradication. Quite the contrary.

    Human rights? Well, we might make some progress if guys like Hillier would stand up to the warlords instead of standing up for them. Our cover up of allegations of torture does nothing to promote human rights and everything to encourage continued abuse.

    We’ve budgeted 6x as much for combat as for aid and development. Fully 90% of the money we have sent for aid has been siphoned off by graft and corruption. Canada spends $1.3 million per day in Afghanistan. Time for an accounting of ROI.

    Time to get real? I agree. Let’s get our heads out of the Afghan desert sand and realize we’re in bed with torturers, war criminals, corrupt police and politicians, warlords, death penalty dealing imams and legislators, Sharia law enforcers and drug dealers. Time for our government to quit hiding those truths from us.

    JB

  • wilson

    ‘that he wants to be able to blame Dion and the Liberals for ?forcing? him to end the combat mission in Afghanistan, and thus try to neutralize it as an election issue for him.’ So PMSH is not a warmonger?  He actually wants Parliament to vote for withdrawal from Kandahar and move troops to reconstruction only? You believe that? IMO both Dion and Harper want to neutralize the Afghan issue.  And call me crazy,  but I don’t think it is for political reasons.  I am naive enough to believe that our elected officials really do want to do what is good for Canada and the brave men & women that serve her.  It’s also time for the media and bloggers to stop politicizing such an important Canadian issue, and be part of the soloution. Stop falsely reporting rifts between the military/government/opposition. Stop using accusations and ‘sources’ to make headlines.  Stop the ‘when did you quit beating your wife’ style of journalism. Report on the work our canadians do, as well as coverage of repatriation ceremonies (that means you, CBC!). Inform rather than inflame. Just how would leaving Afghanistan promote peace? If we sideline ourselves, what right would we have to even have an opinion, let alone a voice? How can we point out the unfairness of countries, such as Germany not allowing their soldiers out at night,  and then do exactly the same thing to the NATO and non-NATO countries that have we would leaving behind, in the heavy combat areas of Kandahar. We did not go to Afghanistan to take ‘our turn’ in the ‘killing fields’  (rotate in and out) of southern and eastern Afghanistan,  we went there to stabalize the area for reconstruction and humanitarian projects. To rebuild what the Taliban tore down.  We chose to go to the area where we could make a difference. Playing an offence or defence role,  it is still combat.   So drop the silly talk. We can’t even get nuclear reactors up and running in 4 years in Canada,  how realistic is it to expect that 4 years in Afghanistan and we would end govt corruption, eradicate the poppy trade, drag a 16th century mentality into the 21st century on human rights, and turn the most dangerous area in the world into a land of peace and harmony? Time to get real. 

  • Whooee! I agree with ALW that harper and Dion will make a deal. They both want to stay in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and prop up the warlord-dominated, Taliban-lite regime that operates under Sharia Law. The differences between Dion’s and Harper’s positions are small. Dion’s still afraid of an election. It’d be fine with most Canadians if Dion did force a withdrawal from Kandahar, but like ALW sez, that’d spark a big rift within LPC ranks.

    But I’m sure you’re wondering what the Green Party would do. 😉

    ********************
    Green Solutions Green Party MPs will: Give notice of withdrawal from the NATO mission in Southern Afghanistan. Press for an entirely new multi-lateral approach, renouncing air strikes except in extreme specific strategic circumstances, working with all parties and maintaining a ground force in peacekeeping and security.Promote the Senlis Council recommendations that Canada take the lead in implementing a comprehensive strategy to break the cycle of illicit poppy growing and violence that has kept Afghanistan in turmoil for decades with a licensing and quota system for growing poppies and selling the products to legal drug firms that produce morphine and codeine for legitimate legal painkilling use. This legal opium market would produce essential medicines to help the millions of people in developing countries (including Afghanistan itself) who are unnecessarily dying in pain because they don’t have access to these medicines. Green MPs would also urge Canada to purchase such opiate drugs and distribute them as part of our health and poverty related ODA programs.Focus and strengthen CIDA efforts on poverty alleviation, reconstruction and development programs to supplement opium cultivation in Afghanistan.Invest in more robust diplomatic efforts focusing on improving domestic governance mechanisms and democratic institutions and protecting the slowly emerging democracy and civil society in Afghanistan. Expand diplomatic and intelligence efforts to identify Taliban strongholds in Pakistan and press the Pakistan government to act in concert with the UN to bring Taliban insurgents to justice. Protect the right of Afghanis to maintain the control over and the right to ownership of their resources and infrastructure and oppose privatization of natural resources in Afghanistan as part of reconstruction programs.Further accelerate and support training and equipping of the Afghan Army and Police recruits.
    ********************
    Afghan journalists can be sentenced to death for merely downloading information critical of Islam. Under Afghanistan’s new constitution, conversion from Islam to Christianity is a death penalty offense. Aghanistan’s corrupt authorities are being bribed into releasing 60%-70% of supected Taliban detainees. The rest, they torture. Poverty stricken Afghans in non-opium producing regions are selling their little girls to make ends meet. Opium production is up. Suicide bombings are up. Canadian casualties are up. IED attacks are up. Taliban recruitment is up. School enrollment is down. 50% of Afghans survive on less than $1 a day.

    Whatever we think we’re supposed to be accomplishing, we’re not. A Dion-Harper deal will ensure more of the same.

    Not in my name!

    Change the climate in Parliament.

    JB

  • ALW

    Dion is going to take flak for this either way, so he may as well throw his lot in with Harper. If he gets into bed with Layton, the Tories will have a field day and the Ignatieff faction will freak out. Say what you will about the merits of each party’s position, but the Tories and the NDP have essentially turned this into a two-position issue: you’re either with the government, or with the NDP. Either for extending the mission, or ending it. Whatever the nuances Dion wants to try and insert – "ending" the combat part of the mission but "extending" the humanitarian part – is going to be framed by his opponents and the media as one or the other. It’s hard to see how Harper would benefit from Dion refusing to deal with him. If Harper endorsed the Manley report, and that report explicitly requires additional NATO assistance before the mission is extended, Dion’s intransigence is a moot point.
    Politically speaking, how many votes are the Liberals going to lose if they side with the Tories? Anyone adamantly against the mission for whom it is the ballot box question, is already voting NDP. There is, however, the Ignatieff wing of the party to consider. And by backing the government – just as some Liberal Mps did in the first vote to extend the mission – they keep the peace in the party.
    I think Harper and Dion are going to find some way to make a deal. It benefits them both and prevents a wildcard election where neither is likely to land a majority.

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