To vote or not to vote on whatever it is our soldiers will be doing


The Prime Minister says when a military mission is “technical or training” in nature, a vote in parliament is not necessary and Michael Ignatieff hypothetically agrees.

“If – please note the word if – the mission is a genuinely non-combat role, then you could imagine proceeding without a parliamentary resolution,” Mr. Ignatieff said. “But we’re not there yet. We’ve got to define what the mission that the government proposes actually is.”

On that note, Liberal Senator Colin Kenny says it’s impossible to properly train Afghan soldiers behind the wire and Andrew Mayeda says there are important distinctions to be clarified.


To vote or not to vote on whatever it is our soldiers will be doing

  1. Whether you agree with the extension and new parameters of the mission or not, or whether it should be put to a vote in Parliament…it is refreshing to actually see the Liberals and Conservatives appear to cooperate and collaborate on something without yet again descending into cheap partisan politics. Both sides are passing up opportunities to play politics at the expense of the other. A rare sight indeed.

  2. What our troops will be doing is wasting time. And losing more Canadians who accidently drive over IEDs.

    We've been 'training' Afghans since 2003 and making no headway.

    That's because the Afghan 'army' and 'police' are made up of every ne'er-do-well Afghans can find to join up….addicts, petty thieves, layabouts…sent off for a year or so to at least make some money for a village or family, and be useful for a change. But they're illiterate, don't speak English, and often vanish at the drop of a hat.

    The Taliban have also infiltrated the groups, and they learn our methods and tactics. Not very clever on our part.

    The real fighters are off in the hills….and we should be learning from them, seeing as they've tossed out empire after empire.

  3. Surely the vast majority of Canadian soldiers sent to Afghanistan were trained in non-combat situations? And do the same discipline problems described regarding trainers exist in the Canadian forces, and are they indulged to the same extent?

  4. That's because the Opposition isn't doing it's job. It's supposed to be giving us an alternative to what the govt is doing, not agreeing with it.

    We have a coalition govt at the moment….Libs and Cons. And judging by the polls, the country is not impressed.

  5. Enjoy it while it lasts!

    Ooops, too late!


  6. Interesting to read Senator Kenny state that, "This is turning into a very stupid and expensive war".

  7. As was mentioned last week here, this is about politics not Afghanistan or the Canadian military. It divides the opposition, enhances the NDP by giving them the anti war position to themselves, jumps on the Liberal pro training ramblings to paint them in a corner, and will boost the NDP vote and diminish Liberal share of the left of centre, and throw a few seats to the Conservatives in three way races. Might be just enough to help achieve a majority! This all about Harper strategy and nothing else.
    Travers explained this in the Sat Star.

  8. Does anyone know if there have been any polls yet on what the citizenry think of all this?

    I've only seen entirely unscientific internet polls, but I note that the Globe online poll asking if troops should stay beyond 2011 ("Should Canadian troops remain in Afghanistan past 2011 to conduct non-combat training missions?") came in at 62% no, 38% yes.

    Similarly, the Globe's poll asking "Should the decision to extend the military mission in Afghanistan be debated in Parliament?" came out 72% yes, and 28% no. Also, sure it's the Star, but I note too that the Toronto Star has a similar internet poll: "Prime Minister Stephen says Parliament does not need to vote on an extension of Canada's military mission in Afghanistan to 2014 because it will be a training mission not involving combat. Should there be a vote?" which is ALSO at 72% in favour of a Parliamentary vote. It's also an unscientific internet poll of course, but I thought it was funny how, when I looked at it, it had the exact same 72/28 break-down as the Globe poll (the Globe poll just went up Sunday, and had less than 500 votes, whereas the Star poll has over 20,0000 votes).

    Anyone seen any "real" polls?

  9. jumps on the Liberal pro training ramblings to paint them in a corner


    This part doesn't make sense, as they're now the Conservative pro-training ramblings as well, though.

  10. They'll get there I'm sure, but I don't think the Liberals are actually quite where you both are placing them quite yet (days, not weeks, away I'm sure).

    All I've heard Ignatieff say so far is things like "We don't know what [the Tories are] talking about. We don't know how many trainers. This isn't the kind of thing you want to do some secret deal with the Liberals about. This is a conversation that has to be had with Canadians. How many trainers? For how long? Who else is training? What are your training targets? What kind of mission is this?" and the above "We're not there yet. We've got to define what the mission that the government proposes actually is". Again, not that they won't end up together in the end, but at least for a few more hours I think it might still be premature to say that the Liberals and the Conservatives are on the same page exactly, since it doesn't appear that any of the Tories have bothered to even tell Ignatieff what page THEY'RE on yet.

  11. So the opposition should oppose everything the government does just for the sake of opposing it? That doesn't make any sense. Shouldn't they agree with the government if they, you know, actually agree with them?

    Judging by the polls Emily, both parties are around 30% each right? Doesn't that mean 60% of Canadians agree with their stance? You always tell us that 65% of people didn't vote for the Conservatives, so that must mean someone else (who got fewer votes) should be in power.

  12. Not ramblings, a decision. NDP also a clear decision. The main question is will this pull a few votes to the NDP and away from the Liberals in some ridings.

  13. Judging by the polls Emily, both parties are around 30% each right? Doesn't that mean 60% of Canadians agree with their stance? You always tell us that 65% of people didn't vote for the Conservatives, so that must mean someone else (who got fewer votes) should be in power.

    I see what you did there.

  14. You simply have to admire the sheer audacity of Harper in the way he has for all intent purposes neutered Iggy – Iggy is standing in parliament right now with his hat in hand pleading with Harper – please sir may I have some more soup holding his poltical bowl in his hand looking forlorn becuase let's be honest folks he has been outfoxed yet again. Right now the Liberal caucus is fuming mad and the only beneficiary is Jacko – truly brilliant as long as Harper can continue to keep both the Lib's and the NDP from being being potilcial lovers Harper will be sitting in the PM's chair and right now that looks like it is going to be a very and I mean very long time – sheer genius .. then again I expect nothing less from stevie boy :)

  15. None of this is true.

  16. The Opposition opposes….that's their job.

    They are supposed to be the 'govt in waiting' and provide an alternative for people to vote for.

    If the Opposition agrees with the govt, they are no longer the opposition…..they are part of the govt. A coalition.

    When both parties are equally low in the polls, it means Canadians don't like either one of them

  17. So, it's "ramblings" when the Liberals discuss the idea of trainers without really going into many specifics, but it's a "decision" when the Conservatives discuss the idea of trainers without really going into many specifics?

    I'm not sure I'll call this a "decision" until someone from the government side who was actually elected to the House of Commons comes out publicly talking about numbers of troops, and what precisely they're going to be doing. We seem to have a pretty good idea, but it's all been rumours and speculation up until this point. I know from the PM that there'll be some kind of mission, that will involve "training" but not "combat", and that it will go until 2014. I'd say the details are still pretty sketchy though (by which I mean that no one in actual AUTHORITY has given many details, including how many troops we might be talking about, even if we seem to know a lot of details from leaks etc…). Public comments would also seem to suggest that the government hasn't told the Leader of the Official Opposition much more than I know either.

  18. Yes, you certainly have to admire his manipulative political leadership skills. But where is he leading us?

  19. I keep reading that third line trying to make it make sense.

    The only conclusion I can reach is that you don't understand the definition of either "Opposition", "Government", "Coalition" or some combination thereof.

  20. Have another coffee. It cures patronizing.

  21. What about that?

  22. I thought Iggy was making great strides and was shaping up as a decent opponent for Harper in an election campaign. But didn't Rae seem to be leading on this one?

  23. Yes we need to know exactly how far up the creek, in how many canoes, and for how long will we be paddling (without paddles)

  24. The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, says U.S. and NATO combat forces will be phased out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and the handover to Afghan security forces will begin in the middle of next year.

    So why should we stick around?

  25. Like so much else, the Liberals have held a respectable stance since the beginning and I am glad to see the Conservatives have finally come around to it. And while the conservatives may have finally landed with an acceptable policy, the way it was done shows a contempt for the way government should work, and a duplicity the Canadian people should be more alarmed at.

  26. Every war is stupid and expensive, and an irrefutable proof of the failure of the human species.

    But to stop there, without examining the consequences of not going to war in certain instances, is sometimes a far greater failure.

  27. For a most disgusting and cynical perspective on exploiting our military for partisan political gain, I offer you the advice from Mulroney's apologist-in-chief, Mr. L. Ian MacDonald:

  28. To Vietnam II, where else?

  29. "… In Canada, an Angus Reid poll conducted in October 2010 indicates that 55% of Canadians oppose our involvement in the war, while only 35% support it, the lowest level of support recorded by the poll in question in the past two years. Among Canadians, 34% have “strong opposition” to involvement in the war, three times higher than the number in “strong support”, standing at only 11 %. Our government does not see this popular opposition as something that should be heeded…"

  30. So why should we stick around?
    To help make the transition as painless as possible. To train. To provide aid. To support our coalition partners.

    Perhaps a better question would be "Why should we abandon everything we've achieved over the last decade?"

  31. But you are way off the mark. If you don't believe me, look back at the minority government of Pearson, and what he was able to accomplish. Would this have been the case if the Opposition opposed everything the government tried to do?

  32. Afghanistan is a quagmire, and we aren't achieving anything.

    That's why everyone is pulling out.

  33. While I have mixed feelings on the issue itself, I agree it is nice to see them collaborating on something. It is a sure sign of how dysfunctional things have become when people are angered by this…

  34. Shhhhh…. psiclone does not like things like facts. They would ruin his ongoing narrative.

  35. Yes, and Canada is pulling out. It's a matter of how quickly, and no reasonable person would suggest we should just reduce our footprint there to zero over night.

  36. I'd actually call my last reply snarky, sarcastic and incredulous more so than "patronizing".

    Now, THIS comment?

    This comment might be a bit patronizing.

  37. According to Harper…at least for today…we're staying.

    What is this 'no reasonable person' business? Harper has been claiming to leave for some time now…is he unreasonable?

    Especially since you can't actually leave 'overnight'. Logistics and all.

  38. And at least for today US and NATO forces are staying as well. Your "nuance" works both ways.

    Where has Harper ever said we should reduce our footprint there to zero over night? Or even said that we wouldn't leave some kind of footprint in Afghanistan?

    Me thinks you're being too clever by half.

  39. Is there ANY chance the NDP and/or Bloc don't bring something forward to make the Libs and Cons go on record on this one?

    I say no.

  40. What.. no interest in the type of creek? I think that would tell us quite a bit, personally.

  41. Holly mentions an October Angus Reid poll below <a href="http:// (http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/43414/just-over-a-third-of-canadians-support-the-mission-in-afghanistan/)” target=”_blank”> <a href="http://(http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/43414/just-over-a-third-of-canadians-support-the-mission-in-afghanistan/)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/43414/just-over-a-third-of-canadians-support-the-mission-in-afghanistan/).

    55% opposed to the mission (34% "strongly opposed")

    35% in support of the mission (11% "strongly support")

  42. It is a sure sign of how dysfunctional things have become when people are angered by this…


    I'm not angered myself, as I like this policy, but still.

    Given that Angus Reid says that 55% of Canadians oppose the mission, and that the government has been saying that they were going to end the mission in 2011 over and over again for two full years (every time more explicitly and vociferously) is it really a sign of "dysfunction" that people might be upset that two political parties are apparently cooperating to reverse government policy on a dime and take it in a direction that the majority of citizens disagree with?

  43. I more thought it was interesting to see Colin Kenny specifically saying this, as I don't see him as someone who doesn't think things through, or examine all the angles.

  44. I guess that's a fair point. Nevertheless, I have to wonder how many are ticked off simply because they can't fathom the notion of working with the enemy…

  45. Yes, I want each MP on record so I know which ones want to waste more lives and money in a war we cannot win propping up a corrupt regime.

  46. Aren't you always whining that parliament doesn't work. Well now have some form of cooperation and you are still whining. Emily it must be tough living on the outside looking in.

  47. By the way Harper discovered a cure for cancer but he still can't walk on water. Therefore he must be a failure right Mikey.

  48. "How do you know they are nobles?"

    "Because they are the only ones who don't have [name of creek goes here] all over them!"

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