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Blue Blogging Soapbox
...rambling rants, thoughts and musings on mostly political topics - from your late night blogger.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jack Layton and the NDP exposed 
(en francais)

As a follow-up to yesterday's post - Jack Layton misleads Canadians, I decided a little more digging was in order. Below is the statement on Afghanistan issued by Jack Layton during the last federal election.


Statement By Jack Layton On Afghanistan
Thu 8 Dec 2005

DARTMOUTH – In Brussels earlier today, foreign ministers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries agreed to expand the presence of the alliance's troops in Afghanistan. NATO proposes to deploy some 6,000 additional troops to the south of the country.

Media are widely reporting that Canadian troops may be part of this escalation.

The New Democratic Party opposes sending more Canadian troops to Afghanistan at this time.

We appear to be drifting from our original mission there – which was to provide security in the capital region – and into a combat role side-by-side with American troops.

We must not drift into a war blindly or secretly, on the say-so of one man – Mr. Martin.

If Paul Martin wants to involve Canada directly in a war in Afghanistan, then he must spell out what our goals are, what our commitments will be, and when and how we will get out.

We then require a real national debate, and a clear democratic decision taken by Parliament.
Let's take a look at this press release to see how the NDP is trying to distort the facts in order to suit their own agenda.
DARTMOUTH – In Brussels earlier today, foreign ministers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries agreed to expand the presence of the alliance's troops in Afghanistan. NATO proposes to deploy some 6,000 additional troops to the south of the country.
The release makes it sound like the expansion was only approved on the 8th of December and the proposal to deploy troops to the south was still in question. In actual fact, this meeting was simply to endorse the official plan to expand into the south and deploy the troops. There was no "propose" to the agreement, it was final approval of a planning process that Canada had been involved in since at least May of 2005. Minister of Defence Bill Graham had outlined this in his appearance before a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defence committees on the 16th of May.
Media are widely reporting that Canadian troops may be part of this escalation.
The media may very well have been reporting this, but hopefully it wasn't the Canadian media. By this point, Camp Julien in Kabul had already been closed (November 29th) and the initial setup of the base in Kandahar was well underway. This fact was widely reported in the Canadian media.

Why does Jack Layton's press release say that the Canadians "may be part of this escalation"? After a personal briefing by the Minister of National Defence in front of a joint Commons committee, a 5 hour debate in the House of Commons (which Mr. Layton did not attend) and over 7 months of media reports does, Jack Layton expect us to believe the NDP still wasn't sure if Canadians were deploying additional troops to Kandahar? The wording allows the NDP to play with semantics and claim they were simply stating what the media was reporting. If there is any confusion regarding the deployment in Afghanistan today it is because of tactics such as this.
"The New Democratic Party opposes sending more Canadian troops to Afghanistan at this time."
Other than the ongoing election, what has changed from the previous 7 months to make the NDP change their position and oppose the troop deployment already underway? While they were supporting Paul Martin's minority government the NDP had ample opportunity to voice any objections and with their balance of power could have forced the issue to national prominence. They chose to remain silent.
We appear to be drifting from our original mission there – which was to provide security in the capital region – and into a combat role side-by-side with American troops.

We must not drift into a war blindly or secretly, on the say-so of one man – Mr. Martin.
"Appear", "blindly" and "secretly" are all used here to leave the impression that Canadians were being misled or simply not being told anything about the troop deployment. Once again, this is patently false. The mission to provide security to Kabul ended with the handover of Camp Julien. Canada had fulfilled their original mission and commitment and was transitioning to their next one. The "side-by-side with American troops" is another distortion, combined with an omission. The Canadians deployment to Kandahar was and is a planned transition from American control of southern Afghanistan to NATO control. That transition is currently underway and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2006.
If Paul Martin wants to involve Canada directly in a war in Afghanistan, then he must spell out what our goals are, what our commitments will be, and when and how we will get out.

We then require a real national debate, and a clear democratic decision taken by Parliament.
More distortion disguised by a grain of truth. The goals and commitments have already been clearly defined by this date. It is true that "the when and how we get out" have not been decided. On that point Jack Layton is correct. As far as the "national debate" and "clear democratic decision" goes, we are descending into confusion and spin again. A debate on this mission was held, albeit a very short 'Take Note' debate. If the NDP had desired a "real national debate" on the issue it was incumbent on them to agitate for that debate starting in May of 2005, not in the middle of an election when the deployment had already begun.

The use of the words "clear democratic decision" is meant to imply that there was something unclear and undemocratic about the way this deployment had been handled. There is nothing farther than the truth regarding this point. The Prime Minister and Cabinet have the legal right to deploy troops. If the NDP wish to change that, subjecting any future deployments to a vote in the House of Commons, that is a entirely seperate issue for discussion and debate by all Canadians.

There is no doubt that most Canadians are confused about the current mission in Afghanistan. That failure lies at the feet of the former Liberal government and it's Minister of National Defence, Bill Graham. To Mr. Grahams credit, he has already acknowledged his own and his governments failure in this regard.

The NDP have done nothing to help this sense of confusion. When they had the opportunity to raise the profile of this issue they remained virtually silent. With one of the longest elections in recent Canadian history, they were actually afforded a unique opportunity to engage in an unprecedented debate on all matters related to defence and foreign affairs. Nothing.

If Jack Layton truly wants to "make Parliament" work he needs to follow the honourable example of Liberal Leader Bill Graham. Acknowledge his party's own part in the sense of confusion and misunderstanding that surrounds the current deployment to Afghanistan. Leave the political rhetoric and grandstanding behind. Make your case for a debate on facts not spin and misrepresentation.

Paul Synnott at 8:05 AM    | en francais | Go to Top|


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