I know the details of Canada’s post-2011 mission are still being sorted out.
Mixed messaging by Ministers of the Crown during Question Period (QP), the most public (and probably least representative) portion of House of Commons business, doesn’t help, though.
This from Hansard during QP 8 Oct 09 (highlights mine):
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. There is some confusion on the government’s position with respect to the military mission in Afghanistan post-2011. For the second time in as many weeks the Minister of National Defence has talked about this. I would like to get the minister again on record. I tried to get him last week on this question. Could the minister confirm that the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan will be over in 2011, yes or no?
Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it seems the only person who is confused is the hon. member on the other side of the House. Let me be perfectly clear. Canada will end its military mission in 2011. Do I have to repeat it to him in French?
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am not the one he needs to repeat it to. He needs to repeat it to his colleague, the Minister of National Defence. The problem is that when he speaks in committee or elsewhere, he says the exact opposite, and that is important. I will ask the minister the question again. How will the government ensure that the House of Commons is consulted before any changes are made to the military mission in Afghanistan?
Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, let me quote the hon. member who said, this week, in the House:
I do not believe that Canada’s commitment to Afghanistan can, in any way, shape or form, end in 2011. I do not believe our commitment to the region can end in 2011.
Then he went on to talk about development.
Our position is clear. The military combat mission will end in 2011.
Funny what a difference that one word “combat” can make…