Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Afghanistan Motion. Putting the NDP between a rock and hard place.

In answer to more than one suggestion that the motion before Parliament today be made a little more public, here it is:
Pursuant to Order made Thursday, April 19, 2007, the House proceeded to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of Mr. Coderre (Bourassa), seconded by Mr. Ignatieff (Etobicoke—Lakeshore), — That,

(1) whereas all Members of this House, whatever their disagreements may be about the mission in Afghanistan, support the courageous men and women of the Canadian Forces;

(2) whereas in May 2006, the government extended Canada's military commitment in Southern Afghanistan to February 2009;

(3) whereas it is incumbent upon Canada to provide adequate notice to the other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of our intentions beyond that date;

(4) whereas by February 2009, Canada's military mission in Southern Afghanistan will represent one of the largest and longest military commitments in Canadian history; and

(5) whereas Canada's commitment to the reconstruction and security of Afghanistan is not limited to our combat operations in Southern Afghanistan;

this House call upon the government to confirm that Canada’s existing military deployment in Afghanistan will continue until February 2009, at which time Canadian combat operations in Southern Afghanistan will conclude; and call upon the government to notify NATO of this decision immediately.

A couple of points to note:

1. This motion did not call for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. It was only calling for a commitment from the government to end combat operations in southern Afghanistan by February 2009.

2. It did not call for a redeployment to the north. It did however state that Canada's commitment to Afghanistan should not be limited to the single small area in which Canada is now engaged.

3. It was a John A. MacDonald style parliamentary maneuver. This was a classic hobbling of the NDP by the Liberals. They forced the NDP to take a position one way or the other which would have placed them in the camp of either the government or that of the official opposition: neither of which the NDP wanted to be in. In the end, the NDP appears to be supporting the Conservative position of open-ended war in Afghanistan... no matter what reason they might suggest otherwise. During a future election campaign expect the NDP support of the government to be played hard and put away wet by the Liberals. While many would consider what the Liberals did to be dirty politics, I would rather see political parties engage in parliamentary maneuvers of this sort than the style taken by Harper, which is to simply smear individuals with unfounded accusations as a means to playing to the cameras.

(OK. That was three points... )

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