Let’s look at a bit of the history of Canadian “special envoys” for things Afghan.
11 Feb 09: Responding to a question in the House of Commons by Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon rejects idea of Canada getting its own “Special Envoy” for Afghanistan.
Maclean’s has learned that the Harper government is on the verge of appointing a member of the Canadian government who will work as part of Holbrooke’s Washington team. “Canada is currently considering potential candidates for an assignment in Mr. Holbrooke’s office,” Jamie Christoff, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman, wrote in an email.
19 Oct 09: Liberal MP Bryon Wilfert, during discussion in the House of Commons, AGAIN calls for a Special Envoy. Response from Jim Abbott, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation:
“We on the government side are less concerned with the actual title our officials carry than we are with the actual work they carry out and the quality of our assistance in Afghanistan.”
27 Jan 10: The Liberals call for, you guessed it, a “special envoy to lead Canadian efforts to work on governance, on a reconciliation process and a post-2011 future in Afghanistan.”
Where I stand:
1) Just a reminder – we have
- a Representative of Canada in Kandahar, **
- an Ambassador to Afghanistan,
- a High Commissioner to Pakistan,
- a Cabinet committee looking at Afghanistan, and
- a Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan.
** – Who knows how long this will last, though, given Canada leaving Dodge Kandahar by end of 2011.
Do we need anybody else, public servant or political appointee, to do this as well?
2) If Canada’s departure is going to be as complete as the latest from the Prime Minister, it doesn’t appear we’re going to have any significant level of “Canadian efforts to work on governance, on a reconciliation process and a post-2011 future in Afghanistan”. Given that, this special envoy would do what, exactly, and with what?