Defence Minister Peter MacKay told the House of Commons defence committee today Canada will not be leaving Afghanistan even after the combat mission expires in 2011. The role will change from war-fighting to a development and training role. MacKay says the Tory government will respect a motion passed in March 2008 to withdraw the country’s battle group until a new motion is tabled in the Commons …. MacKay side-stepped the question of how Canada will carry out a development mission with the Taliban insurgency continuing to rage throughout many parts of southern Afghanistan.
Another tidbit from the CP article:
His remarks echo Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai, the parliamentary secretary to the foreign affairs minister, who told the Commons in an impromptu debate on Afghanistan earlier in the week that the future mission will be brought before MPs.
led me to hunt through Hansard for a few snippets on these tea leaves. Here’s some of what Hansard says Mr. Obhrai said during debate in Monday’s session in the House of Commons (32 page 1.3 MB PDF of the Afghanistan portion of the debate also downloadable from here):
Mr. Speaker, I can tell the hon. member that when the mission is debated after 2011 by Parliament, he …. will have an opportunity to fully participate in that debate. The (Special) committee (on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan) will participate. Canadians will participate to indicate how the mission after 2011 should go, while taking into account the strong values and past contributions. I can tell the hon. member that we are looking forward to that debate.
Notwithstanding the word-for-word implication that the debate will happen post-2011 (I’ll chalk it up to not having a grasp of every single word during debate in the house), it appears, indeed, that it will come back to Parliament.
It’ll be interesting to see how “Canadians will participate to indicate how the mission after 2011 should go”.
A sidebar: The most worrisome part of the 5 Oct 09 exchange in the House is when the Mr. O said this to an NDP colleague about the job being done in Afghanistan:
This is not a war. We are providing a secure environment in a country in which there was a complete loss of security. Let us get it very clear so the NDP can understand what a secure environment is and what a war is. A war is between two nations; a war is between two parties. There are not two parties there. This is a different kind of war. We are facing a terrorist organization that does not respect any rules of engagement.
So, it’s not a war, but it’s a different kind of war?