'The government would look at the possibility'

Around the same time Mr. Harper said publicly that the post-2011 mission in Afghanistan would be a “strictly civilian mission” that would not require “any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy,” he apparently indicated to the NATO secretary general privately that he was open to the possibility of a training mission.

NATO’s secretary general pressed Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay in a series of meetings in Ottawa in January 2010 to join its newly established training mission command in Kabul. Anders Fogh Rasmussen “sought Canadian commitment to a post-2011 role in training Afghan security forces as part of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan,” said a cable released by WikiLeaks on Thursday. The Jan. 20, 2010, summary of the discussion from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa noted that “Harper promised that the government would look at the possibility.”

Five months later, the Foreign Affairs Minister dismissed any interest in a post-2011 training mission.

Five months after that, the Prime Minister confirmed that Canada would be pursuing a post-2011 training mission.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.