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The Liberals purported Afghanistan amendments look reasonable.

I just was reading the Star, and these are apparently the Liberal amendments that Dion will propose to the Conservative government motion to extend the Afghanistan mission to 2011:

In addition to the February 2009 end date for the combat mission and the full withdrawal by 2011, sources said the Liberal amendment will demand a freer flow of information about the mission. It will call on the government to submit quarterly progress reports to Parliament and for cabinet ministers to make monthly appearances before a new Commons committee on Afghanistan. As well, the amendment will call for the appointment of a special envoy to oversee the treatment of Afghan […]

My particular reasons for voting no to the Cons motion on Afghanistan

Garth Turner has posted the Conservative motion on extending the mission in Afghanistan to 2011 at his blogsite and asked for comments on whether his readers would vote Yea or Nay, and why.

This is what I left over there, and what I will re-post here:

I’m an obvious no to this motion. We’ve already had 1 extension of this (3 years) and the Cons. propose to have another. If they were still (God forbid) in power then, what would stop them from extending it further when 2011 rolled around, short of a total victory, which even the NATO commander over there says wouldn’t be possible without 400 000 troops? (and that amount of troops isn’t going to happen).

The Cons. motion is a recipe for indefinite endless war, and endless casualties. We’ve done our tour of duty, and we’ve done it honourably. It’s time for all those other NATO countries who give lip-service to how important Afghanistan is but then supply no troops or keep them out of harm’s way to step up to the plate. And when I say, step up, I don’t mean supplying the token 1000 troops that the Manley Report calls for and which the Harperites have seized upon. I’m talking the principle of rotation, where a country will rotate their troops in, while we rotate our troops out.

If the NATO countries refuse to do it, the consequences will be on their and NATO’s heads, not Canada’s. I say no to the Cons. motion – pull them out of combat operations on schedule in 2009.

Further to that, if the Liberals want to articulate their policy better to the public on what their position is (since some Con. cabinet ministers are going around either distorting the Liberal position or claiming they don’t have one, or saying it’s changing all the time) they could do worse then use the points that the Toronto Star’s Haroon Sidddiqui put forth at his op-ed today:

The Liberal way forward, therefore, is clear: Support a limited extension of the mission on specific conditions (along the lines of what British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is already pursuing).

A concomitant push on aid and development in the safer areas where such work hasn’t been done due to a lack of co-ordination between Ottawa and the field offices, and between Afghanistan and NATO. Insist on the appointment of a UN co-ordinator.
A major push for a political settlement in Afghanistan — opening negotiations with elements of the Taliban, and a separate concerted campaign to increase civilian Pushtun representation in Kabul. Iraq’s turnaround has been achieved by a troop surge and, mainly, by bringing the Sunnis/Baathists into the fold. If doing deals with them is good, why is trying something similar with the spurned Afghans bad?
A co-ordinated effort with Pakistan, even while insisting that President Pervez Musharraf move toward a transparent democracy.

Such a comprehensive approach, clearly spelled out, would give Stéphane Dion the confidence to take on Harper, even on the election trail, and let Canadians decide.

I think Dion and the Liberals should be taking those and spreading them far and wide across the land. If their position needs clarifying, stating as listed above will certainly do that.

Journamalism, Part 2

I’m going to borrow Pogge’s phrase here used to describe what he thinks (and is correct in thinking) is bad or inaccurate reporting on some of our Canadian media and point it at the journalists/pundits in another fashion. In this instance, I’m taking aim at the pundits and journalists who months ago ridiculed Stephane Dion and the Liberals for abstaining on the Throne Speech last October and claimed it was done because the Liberals/Dion were weak, or had no principles, etc. I’m not blaming them for being critical of the Liberals abstaining – I wanted the Liberals to pull the plug back then too – but what I’m taking issue […]

Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

After all this bluster about being prepared to declare accepting the Manley Report as a confidence measure in his government, we find out that the actual motion itself won’t be voted on till March, which will be after the Budget, a Budget it appears the Liberals are willing to defeat.

It appears all of this bluster on making this Manley Report into a confidence motion was just designed to make Harper look “tough” , when it won’t even likely be the cause of the Government defeat in the House. I would go further and say the fact that the Conservatives are holding the vote before Harper even gets to the […]

Bring it on, Harper (and let’s go, Liberal caucus)

Funny, I was just hearing in the news last week that Harper didn’t want to fall on Afghanistan or go to an election on it. Now all of a sudden, he’s threatening to turn this (a non-money, non-supply motion, if true) into a motion of confidence and telling Dion he will cause an election over it?

I see Dion is repeating his stance tonight to the media after his meeting with Harper that the combat mission must end in 2009, and that isn’t changing. I say bravo to him, and I also urge him to call Harper’s bluff – if he wants an election over this, I say bring it […]

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.

The Afghanis can’t help it if they abuse people…

That would seem to be the summary of this article posted by Rosie Dimanno at the Star today – I guess her point is that they are a different “culture” over there (people living in the 12th century) and therefore we shouldn’t try imposing our values on them – proving that there is at least 1 neocon on the Star’s op-ed staff over there.

She’s also willing to take the word of the Kandahar Governor that he didn’t torture over the prisoner who in her words was “pouring bile into the ears of Canadian diplomats.” She apparently failed to read the story in the Globe and Mail about this, which […]

Our soldiers are dying in Afghanistan for this?

I’ve been afflicted with a severe neckache/headache problem the past couple of days which doesn’t allow me to be at my computer for more then a few minutes at a time, and thus I’m not about to leave any long-winded posts (like I normally do), but when I see stories like this that show that the Governor of Kandahar province might be personally involved in torture (and the added outrage that the Harper government tried to cover it up), and when I see another story this week where a young Afghan journalist gets sentenced to death for supposedly blaspheming Islam, when all he was doing was challenging Muslim fundamentalists who […]

Layton making overtures to Dion on Afghanistan position.

Well now, this is an interesting turn of events. Rather then bash the Liberals over their Afghanistan position, Jack Layton and the NDP have decided diplomacy is the better way to go, and are making overtures to Dion and appealing to him to support their opposition to not extend the Afghanistan mission:

NDP Leader Jack Layton made a personal appeal to the federal Liberals on Wednesday, urging them to accept his proposal to put an end to Canada’s military combat mission in Afghanistan. Layton spoke briefly to Liberal Leader Stephane Dion outside the Commons to convince him not to support Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s efforts to extend the mission beyond […]

Keep sticking to your position, Stephane.

So, there’s been all sorts of media stories today about how the Liberal position on Afghanistan is now muddled and how there is supposedly is infighting amongst the Liberals over what position to take. Not surprisingly, those assertions come from the National Post and Chantal Hebert.

However, Mr. Dion has come out and denied there is any change in the Liberal position on Afghanistan:

Stephane Dion says the Liberals will not budge from their insistence that Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan end as scheduled in February 2009. “No, no,” the Liberal leader said flatly when asked if his deadline for ending the mission is negotiable. “The combat mission must end […]

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