Lawrence Cannon isn't much for dancing -

Lawrence Cannon isn’t much for dancing

Dismisses Liberal proposal for a post-2011 mandate in Afghanistan, and Peter MacKay’s “interest” in it


In an interview with CTV this evening, the Foreign Affairs Minister was fairly dismissive of the Liberal proposal for a post-2011 mandate in Afghanistan and the Defence Minister’s reported “interest” in said proposal. The following is from the end of the conversation.

Tom Clark. Would training the Afghan army in a non-combat role be considered development aide?

Cannon. Well, you know, I’ve been prodded all around on that particular question. But Tom, I’m responding in the same manner. We are, I’m not going on a hypothetical that may be and perhaps and if this is done, no that’s not it. The position, the door is firmly closed. There’s nothing other than the resolution, not the resolution, I’m sorry, the motion that was adopted in the House of Commons.

Clark. Then why is Peter MacKay open to this idea?

Cannon. Well, Peter might be open to the idea, but this doesn’t mean that the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada is open to the idea.

Now, you could, conceivably, find a difference between interest and openness. But setting aside the question of a gap between the ministers, the conclusion of this exchange with Mr. Cannon is likely relevant.

Clark. So you’re saying, resolutely, no question about it, all Canadian boots off of Afghan soil by July of next year? Period, end of story, you’re not going to change your mind, you’re not open to any other ideas.

Cannon. That’s what the motion says and that’s the position of the government of Canada.

Clark. And that’s not about to change.

Cannon. That is correct.

Clark. It won’t change at all.

Cannon. That is correct.

Clark. Everybody out.

Cannon. That is correct. That’s what the motion says.

As noted, that’s not exactly what the motion says. Mr. Cannon did though also refer to the last Speech from the Throne, which included the following passage.

In Afghanistan, the Canadian Forces prepare for the end of the military mission in 2011 with the knowledge that – through great sacrifice and with great distinction – their efforts saved Kandahar province from falling back under Taliban control. After 2011, our effort in Afghanistan will focus on development and humanitarian aid.