Harper Conservatives favour assisted suicide

…and the Liberals, NDP and/or the Bloq will be the ones who pull their plug.

The latest confidence motion that the Reform-Alliance-Conservatives have advanced is playing politics with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan who, like it or not, are doing Parliament’s bidding in an atmosphere where “Support Our Troops” is too often hijacked by those who support dragging out Canada’s major role in the conflict.

The Star reports an edited version of the Conservatives’ motion as follows:

Whereas, as set out in the Speech from the Throne, the House does not believe that Canada should simply abandon the people of Afghanistan after February 2009; that Canada should build on its accomplishments and shift to accelerate the training of the Afghan army and police so that the government of Afghanistan can defend its own sovereignty and ensure that progress in Afghanistan is not lost and that our international commitments and reputation are upheld;

whereas in February 2002, the government took a decision to deploy 850 troops to Kandahar, the Canadian Forces have served in various capacities and locations in Afghanistan since that time and, on May 17, 2006, the House adopted a motion to support a two-year extension of Canada’s deployment in Afghanistan;

whereas the House welcomes the Report of the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan, chaired by John Manley, and recognizes the important contribution they have made;

whereas their report establishes clearly that security is an essential condition of good governance and lasting development and that, for best effect, all three components of a comprehensive strategy – military, diplomatic and development – need to reinforce each other;

whereas the government accepts the analysis and recommendations of the panel and is committed to taking action, including revamping Canada’s reconstruction and development efforts to give priority to direct, bilateral project assistance that addresses the immediate, practical needs of the Afghan people, especially in Kandahar;

whereas the results of progress in Afghanistan, including Canada’s military deployment, will be reviewed in 2011 and, in advance, the government will provide to the House an assessment and evaluation of progress, drawing on and consistent with the panel’s recommendations regarding performance standards, results, benchmarks and timelines;

therefore, the House supports the continuation of Canada’s current responsibility for security in Kandahar beyond February 2009, to the end of 2011, in a manner fully consistent with the UN mandate on Afghanistan, but with increasing emphasis on training the Afghan National Security Forces expeditiously to take increasing responsibility for security in Kandahar and Afghanistan as a whole so that, as the Afghan National Security Forces gain capability, Canada’s combat role should be commensurately reduced, on condition that:

(a) Canada secure a partner that will provide a battle group of approximately 1,000 to arrive and be operational no later than February 2009, to expand International Security Assistance Force’s security coverage in Kandahar;

(b) to better ensure the safety and effectiveness of the Canadian contingent, the government secure medium helicopter lift capacity and high performance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance before February 2009.

I, like millions of Canadians, do not want the war in Afghanistan to go on indefinitely but the women and men of our Canadian Armed Forces over there must surely be disheartened that their government would so cynically plot to end Parliament’s life by turning them into political pawns.

The government of a fixed election date (in 2009) will, hopefully, be turfed out for one of the myriad other reasons Canadians have lost confidence in them – the mishandling of the climate change crisis, the squandering of the government surplus, meanspiritedness, arrogance…(and feel free to add more reasons in the comments section!)

What also ticks me off is the prospect of byelections (including one in my own riding of Toronto Centre) being scuttled before their March 17 date – not that this had not crossed my mind from the start – meaning the need to pay again the start-up costs of an election campaign, which my Green candidate Chris Tindal explains better here.

As the Green Party website says here, it would be a shame if, while no doubt advancing its other neo-con planks of an election platform, the Harper Conservatives ultimately begin electioneering as the result of a vote playing partisan games over such an emotional issue that Canadian Forces families face every day.


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