Opposition MPs say Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean should visit Canadian troops in Afghanistan

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Opposition MPs are calling on General Rick Hillier, chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Forces, to allow Governor General Michaelle Jean visit Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The trip still has not yet been arranged due to security concerns.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper went to Afghanistan earlier this year, then followed Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and Foreign Minister Peter MacKay going to Afghanistan in support for the Canadian troops. Former Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson visited the Canadian troops in Afghanistan twice. The security was less of an issue because the soldiers were in Kabul.

Earlier this year, Jean told Hillier that she wanted to visit the troops in Kandahar to witness some of the provincial reconstruction teams at work outside the Canadian base and meet with local citizens.

"If all of them can go at various times, I am certain the military can make arrangements for the commander-in-chief to go," said Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh, official Opposition defence critic. "She's the commander-in-chief.... We all know it's a ceremonial position, but it is important for the troops to see the Governor General, the ultimate authority in dismissing the government or not dismissing the government, is there to appreciate what they're doing and lend support."

New Democratic Party defence critic Dawn Black also supports the idea on Jean going to Afghanistan. "It's clear that other people have been able to get in and out. I would think arrangements could be made for the Governor General to get in and out as well. There are entertainers going in!"

She is anxious to visit the Canadian troops, according to her spokesman, Randy Mylyk.

Jean was shedueled to go to the country during the Operation Medusa in early September, when Canadians waged a major offensive against insurgents.

Jean has been visiting military bases in cities such as Esquimalt, British Columbia; Edmonton, Alberta; and Halifax, Nova Scotia, and also meeting with families of Canada's fallen.

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"Canada's Defence Minister visits Canadian troops in Afghanistan" — Wikinews, August 30, 2006