Canada's Afghan mission in question

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Prime Minister Stephen Harper reportedly failed to explain why Canada is fighting in Afghanistan, while the Harper government won parliamentary approval for a two-year extension of Canada's mission.

Polls show that while Canadians may oppose about their soldiers engaging in direct combat, most are immensely proud of the mission.

"This is tough slogging. Canada has one of the most difficult parts of Afghanistan. They (the troops) are engaged in a very determined effort to take the Taliban on," Foreign Affiars Minister Peter MacKay told CBC.

"I think we should stay in but we need to have a proper debate about whether this is the right course of action in the future. What is our best role in the world? Is our only security, military security?" Liberal MP Ken Dryden said.

NDP leader Jack Layton wants to pull troops out of Afghanistan, including having a debate. "The prime minister won't even use the word 'war', even though it's obvious that's what Canada has now declared. There is no exit strategy that's ever been offered and there's no comprehensive plan to achieve peace," says Mr. Layton.

Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, is also demanding an emergency debate on the whether Ottawa should pull its troops out of Afghanistan.

Harper and Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor issued a statement yesterday expressing their sadness and condolences over the death of Pte. Mark Anthony Graham, who was killed in a friendly fire incident by an American plane.

"His sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice, will have helped the local displaced population to return home and be free from the shadow of the Taliban," Harper's statement read.