The Star’s Walkom: Layton forcing the war issue



Liberals must say where they stand

THOMAS WALKOM

Jack Layton has started the ball rolling. With his comments on Thursday, the New Democratic Party leader is the first elected politician to call unequivocally for a Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan. The pressure is now on the Liberals — particularly those leadership candidates critical of Canada’s current military involvement — to say exactly where they stand.

Up to now, the main opposition parties have adroitly fudged the question. The New Democrats, as well as most Liberal MPs, did vote this May against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to leave Canadian troops in Afghanistan until February 2009. But the reasons they gave at the time focused on the way the decision was made rather than the decision itself.

Liberals in particular grumped about the short time allowed for debate, neatly sidestepping the fact that most of their MPs hadn’t bothered to show up for it.

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