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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 […]

The Canadian military is still obviously ticked at Harper.

I don’t think its been even 24 hrs before “sources” – no doubt in the military – leaked this to the Globe and Mail:

The Canadian Forces are holding insurgent detainees at their Kandahar Air Force base rather than turning them over to Afghan authorities, are taking fewer prisoners and are quickly releasing some of them. The information, provided to The Globe and Mail by sources, answers questions about Canada’s new policy for handling detainees that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other ministers repeatedly refused to provide Monday, citing the need for combat operational secrecy.

I guess the military either doesn’t think that this thing needs to be kept a secret, or else there are still quite a few angry military folks over Sandra Buckler’s comments that no one from the Armed Forces informed the government of the change in detainee policy of not handing them over to the Afghanistan authorities. The best part of this whole schmozzle: Harper is quoted in the House yesterday as saying he will “never” say how many prisoners are kept or where they are kept. Well, a day later, we now know where they are. It’ll be interesting to see if these same sources are angry enough to say how many prisoners we’ve got as well.

[email protected]:23am: Cam from Peterborough Politics (and indirectly Jack Layton) make a great point in the comments section:

Jack Layton pointed that out best yesterday…when he read that press release from the United States Government, which announced how many they had detained in Afghanistan that day, where they were captured and where they were being held. If the Bush Administration feels that it’s alright for his citizens to know these things, then what possible reason would the Harper Administration think that they could keep these kinds of things from Canadians?

The Bush administration, which hasn’t exactly been known during its reign of being forthright and open with information, is releasing more information about this then the Harper Conservative government is? That’s not a very high standard to meet, and even the Conservative government is failing to meet it. As another of my commentators, Mark from Section 15 says in comments as well:

Harper’s claim of need for secrecy is nothing but an excuse to avoid discussing the underlying issues. Big suprise there.

No, it isn’t a big surprise. I believe the military folks have seen they are being used as pawns in this political game, and have decided enough is enough.

The Copyright Bill – call your MP to say you’re opposed to this version of it.

Some may be wondering what I’m referring to with that title. Instead of me trying to explain it, let me quote Dr. Michael Geist, the premier authority on copyright and internet issues in Canada, from his Facebook Group, Fair Copyright For Canada:

The Canadian government is about to introduce new copyright legislation that will be a complete sell-out to U.S. government and lobbyist demands. The new Canadian legislation will likely mirror the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act with strong anti-circumvention legislation that goes far beyond what is needed to comply with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Internet treaties. Moreover, it will not address the issues that concern millions of Canadians. […]

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

I have to disagree slightly with Impolitical. I don’t think Jack Layton and the NDP are being used at all by Harper. I think they’re using each other in another partisan attempt to embarrass the Liberals over this motion to hold a referendum to abolish the Senate (which would have no legal standing, since it requires the majority of provinces and the feds to agree to make such a change). I think Jack was well aware that Harper and the Cons would probably support this motion when he put it forward. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a not-so-disguised joint effort – even if not formally talked about by the […]

More on Afghanistan: or how NATO refuses to help

In light of yesterday’s story on how Hillier thinks it will take a minimum of 10 years to stabilize Afghanistan, (NATO’s head thinks it will take a generation), and the PMO hastily issuing press releases to disagree and claim everything will be stablizied by 2011, this editorial in the Toronto Star this AM was timely, as it showed us how Peter MacKay has utterly failed to convince any of the other member countries of NATO to help shoulder the load:

NATO plans to lease 20 civilian helicopters while military choppers sit idle at European bases. The Germans and French, shouldering easy duty, are willing to deploy just 250 more military […]

Harper at odds with Hillier, NATO over Afghan stabilization timeframe

A dispute has arisen over how long it will take for Afghanistan to be stabilized so it can fend for itself.

General Hillier said earlier today it will take a minimum of 10 years for the Afghan army to be trained. The NATO Secretary went even further then that; he believes it will take “a generation” to develop and nation-build. (A generation is about 25 years last I checked)

Contrast that to Harper and the Conservatives, who are claiming it will only take 4 years to do so. They are either wearing rose-coloured glasses, or are trying to paint an overly-optimistic picture of Afghanistan to help soothe voters fears (or both).

And, as to be expected, the government is hiding behind its new Afghanistan commission of “non-partisans” so that it doesn’t have to answer questions about this apparent discrepancy between the military guys and themselves:

Skeptics have warned that the commission, whose recommendations are non-binding, will serve only one purpose: helping the government avoid questions on Afghanistan for a few months. Today, that warning appeared prophetic.“This government has established an independent commission to study the issue and provide advice to this government,” Tory House leader Peter Van Loan replied when pressed on the matter.

Again, I remind everyone that John Manley has helped enable this. For a reported salary of 1400$ a day. A commission whose creation now will be used by this Conservative government to avoid answering questions about Afghanistan, and which will then issue a report everyone already knows will come down mostly on the side of the Conservative government’s point of view, and then be used as a partisan device to attack the opposition parties with – including Manley’s own party.

All I can say is to Mr Manley, don’t try running for the Liberal leadership next time it’s available, because you’ll have even less support (if that’s possible) then when you investigated doing the attempted run after Chretien retired.

EDIT: For the record, I don’t object to Canadian advisers and trainers staying there for 10 years or “a generation” to train the Afghan Army, nor do I oppose stabilization and peacekeeping efforts. If Hillier is implying we need to stay there 10 more years in a combat role, and NATO’s top person hinting it might be longer then that, then I do have a serious problem with that, and with the Conservatives trying to claim to Canadians everything will be just fine in 4 years.

Dion supports preferential ballot, national referendum

Proof that electoral reform isn’t dead, Part 2. This from Stephane Dion at a Q&A session in Winnipeg is very encouraging:

During a 90-minute question and answer session with the audience at the Gas Station Theatre, Dion was asked to give his thoughts on electoral reform…The Liberal leader mused out loud about how a preferential ballot would be better…Dion finished by saying this would lead to more respectful debate between parties and leaders since “if you’re a Green or NDP voter, I don’t want to insult you so you’ll consider me as your second choice.” Then, he said he wouldn’t want to make this part of an election campaign promise, […]

More proof electoral reform isn’t dead

I hope Ian Urquhart and the Toronto Star editorial board have a subscription to the Hill Times. It might make their heads explode after reading the results of this poll:

When asked whether there should be a national referendum on PR in Canada’s next general election, 48 per cent said yes nationally, 32 per cent said no, and 20 per cent said they don’t know. When asked how they would vote if a such referendum was held, 45 per cent said they would support a system of PR, 28 per cent said keep the current First Past the Post system, and 27 per cent didn’t know.

Very impressive, but surely […]

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