The science and politics of risk

The Canadian Forces suffer their first death since transitioning to a training mission in Afghanistan

The first death since the Canadian Forces transitioned to a training mission in Afghanistan prompts consideration of risk.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says “significant risks” remain for Canadians serving as military trainers in Afghanistan. He made his comments Sunday after the death of a Canadian military trainer — the first since the training mission began earlier this year — who lost his life after his convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber. Nearly a year ago, when Harper committed Canadian troops to a three-year training mission in Kabul, he predicted it would pose “minimal risks for Canada.”

Last month, Canadian soldiers were involved in a firefight after an attack was launched against the US Embassy in Kabul.

Last year, the Prime Minister reversed course and ordered an extension to the military engagement in Afghanistan. Upon first addressing the matter in the House, he said the new mission would be “a training mission that will occur in classrooms behind the wire in bases.”

Consequently, he said a vote in Parliament wasn’t necessary. The Liberal opposition generally agreed. The NDP was not pleased. The House later debated and defeated a Bloc Quebecois motion that sought to “condemn the government’s decision to unilaterally extend the Canadian mission in Afghanistan until 2014.”

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