More grist for the mill.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking at the conclusion of a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Trinidad, said he doesn’t see any enthusiasm among Canada’s 308 MPs for prolonging or expanding this deployment.
“I don’t sense any desire on the part of Parliamentarians to do that,” he said.
Still, the Conservatives are keeping mum on exactly what portion of Canada’s 2,700 troops in Afghanistan would remain behind after 2011 in what Ottawa would designate as a non-combat role, such as training local army and police or protecting aid projects.
Mr. Harper said Canada is preparing the boost the civilian-heavy development and reconstruction program for Afghanistan, a measure that could require more soldiers to defend even after 2011. Some military analysts have predicted this could require 500 to 800 troops to stay behind.
Mr. Harper said he will consult opposition parties as Ottawa as it proceeds.
“We are right now examining how Canada can move forward with an enhanced civilian presence, a focus on development and humanitarian aid,” Mr. Harper said.
“We’re in the process of looking at various options in that regard,” he said.
“We will want to have some Parliamentary input but I don’t sense a desire on the part of any party to extend the military mission.” ….
Phrase of note: “have some Parliamentary input”. In October, the Parliamentary for Foreign Affairs, Deepak Obhrai, said in the House of Commons:
When the mission is debated after 2011 by Parliament, (an opposition member) …. will have an opportunity to fully participate in that debate
Then again, during the same debate, he also said:
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.
Maybe I’m skeptical, but to me, “have some Parliamentary input” doesn’t NECESSARILY a debate in the House of Commons. I hope I’m wrong.
As for the “we’re asking around before deciding/saying what happens next” gambit, I’ll be curious to see if those criticizing President Obama for “dithering” see this in the same light.
Enjoy reading the tea leaves!