News Highlights – 3 Nov 11 News Highlights – 21 Sept 11

  • Libya Mission (1a)  Three more months?  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he believes that the Canadian Forces will be able to wrap up their mission in Libya “well before” their next three-month mandate is over. Mr. Harper will ask the House of Commons this week to approve a three-month extension after NATO countries agreed to stay with the mission beyond the Sept. 27 deadline, but he said Canada’s goal is to wipe out the remaining threat of pro-Gadhadi forces and it should be over sooner ….” More from here and The Canadian Press here.  The PM’s officialese statements here and here.
  • Libya Mission (1b)  Here’s how the PM’s official statement put it:  “Canada has been at the forefront of international efforts to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gaddafi regime and provide them with humanitarian assistance …. Canada will continue to support the people of Libya, standing ready to promote effective governance and institutions, a secure environment founded on the rule of law, economic development and prosperity, and respect for human rights.”  More in the “Lookit everything we’ve done” bit here.
  • Libya Mission (1c)  Softball question from the Conservative backbenches to the Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai, with a well-messaged response:  Mr. Peter Braid (Kitchener—Waterloo, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the situation in Libya this past summer has seen the toppling of the Gadhafi regime and the emergence of a real democratic hope. However, despite these gains we recognize that the situation does remain unstable. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs please update the House on the situation in Libya?  Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, today the Prime Minister attended the high-level meeting on Libya at the United Nations chaired by the Secretary-General. Canada has been at the forefront of the international effort to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gadhafi regime. Canada stands ready to support the new Libyan government through the UN coordinated efforts committed to helping the people of Libya.”  Far better than when he said Afghanistan wasn’t really a war, but more like “providing a secure environment in a country in which there was a complete loss of security.”
  • Afghanistan (1a)  Former president, head of the Afghanistan High Peace Council and, in some eyes, warlord hard man Burhanuddin Rabbani killed by a explosives-packed turban on a suicide bomber.  Here’s Postmedia News’ take on what the killing means, and here’s the PM’s condolences (noticeably longer than these condolences from Canada’s envoy to Afghanistan for an even tougher warlord).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  Here’s former OMLT-eer Bruce Ralston’s take on the Rabbani assassination“There’s no question the Taliban’s improvement in their pursuit of “high value targets” this year has mirrored, if not exceeded the coalition’s.”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The combat mission in Kandahar is over, but Force Protection Company is still keeping busy (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (3)  Canadian General bearing still-useful leftovers for the Afghan National Army (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (1)  Opinion, from a former subordinate George Petrolekas:  The CDS can’t get the work done on Air Canada that he can get done on a military executive jet.
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (2)  Opinion, from Senator Colin Kenny“…. General Walter Natynczyk, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, has been skewered by simplistic reporting this week. He is right to be indignant, wrong to be surprised, and out of luck if he thinks many in the media are going to stop and put everything in perspective ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Joe Warmington “Only in Canada would you see our top soldier sucker-punched in this way. Gen. Walter Natynczyk has looked into the crying eyes of the parents of many of the 157 hero warriors killed in action in Afghanistan, and now the same people who condoned millions for a fake lake and a giant fence are worried about our top soldier’s travel expenses? Only coming out of NDP critics could such hypocrisy reign. It’s funny how we have taxpayers’ money for their leader’s state funeral but we must count every penny for the man leading our troops, not in peace time but in the middle of war ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Charles Adler “…. So what about this trip to the Caribbean? Natynczyk had spent the previous two Christmases with our troops serving in Afghanistan. He was about to miss a much-deserved holiday with his family in order to pay respects to more of our fallen soldiers at a repatriation ceremony. The minister of defence ordered him to join his family, and approved the use of the jet to get there. It was a classy move on Peter MacKay’s part, and was completely justifiable ….”
  • “No” to expanding the Mo’?  “Canada’s bloated military bureaucracy has consistently defied explicit orders from government ministers to increase the size of the army militia as directed. The accusation is made in a scorching but carefully documented report by pre-eminent military scholar Jack English for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and obtained in advance of its release Wednesday by only a few media outlets, including Postmedia ….”
  • DND changing how it funds research. “The Department of National Defence is changing how it pays for public research on the military, cutting funding by 80 per cent and moving to a new “agile” model that would mimic private consulting, according to scholars involved. By doing so, many of them charge that the department is squeezing the lifeblood out of almost three-quarters of research centres across Canada that are supported by the program, known as the Security and Defence Forum. DND, however, says it is only acting in the best interests of taxpayers. It says the move will transform the way it interacts with military experts, ultimately providing better value. Directors of the SDF, a decades-long effort by the government to link the military and universities to foster debate and research on security and defence issues, were disappointed to learn in July that their $2.5-million program would be shut down and replaced with a $0.5-million successor. They say DND will likely forge the new program into a system where it can commission work quickly, drawing in expert analysis on current affairs, or on subjects that immediately interest the government ….”
  • Somalia’s PM, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, is in Canada, asking for help (including military help)  “(Q) You spoke of the need for more military and police trainers in Somalia, and suggested this is an area where Canada could specifically contribute. Aren’t there already such trainers in Somalia? (A) No, we don’t have those. Not inside Somalia. The European Union is providing some training for the Somali national army. They are training outside the country but we don’t have American, British or Canadian trainers. We need these because security institutions are essential to law and order. We also need logistical support – communication, transportation, even providing salary in the short term – so that once we have a bigger, broader tax base we will be able to provide salaries for our soldiers. We need a lot of financial help.”  More from the Toronto Star here, and Agence France-Presse here.  Given Canada’s military track record in the country (let’s also remember this was a case a small number of very, very, very bad apples making the whole group look bad), this might be hard for the government to sell and message – we’ll have to wait and see what unfolds and how.
  • What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ships Edition  Getting ready for mo’ shipbuilding work on the east coast.  “A baker’s dozen of employers and the Dexter government have contributed more than $400,000 in cash and equipment to double the number of metal fabrication students at the Nova Scotia Community College this fall. An Irving Shipbuilding official said he couldn’t say whether a further expansion would be needed if Irving Shipbuilding wins one of the huge federal government contracts for new combat and non-combat ships, to be announced within weeks. “It’s difficult to say,” Mike Roberts, Irving’s vice-president of corporate development, said after an announcement in Dartmouth ….” News Highlights – 2 Jun 11

  • Libya Mission (1):  NATO extends its mission 90 days.  “NATO and partners have just decided to extend our mission for Libya for another 90 days. This decision sends a clear message to the Qadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya. We will sustain our efforts to fulfil the United Nations mandate. We will keep up the pressure to see it through. Our decision also sends a clear message to the people of Libya: NATO, our partners, the whole international community, stand with you. We stand united to make sure that you can shape your own future. And that day is getting closer.”
  • Libya Mission (2):  Canada’s envoy to NATO approves NATO extension.  “Ambassadors from NATO’s 28-member states, including Canada, have unanimously decided to extend the military campaign in Libya for an additional 90 days. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary-general made the announcement on Wednesday, saying it “sends a clear message to the Gadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya.” NATO took command of the international military campaign in Libya at the end of March, in the hopes of protecting Libyan civilians caught up in fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The alliance originally agreed to head the military campaign for 90 days, which would expire June 27 ….”
  • Libya Mission (3):  Canada going to extend mission?  “The federal government indicated Wednesday it will extend Canada’s mission in Libya, following a NATO decision to extend its bombing operations in the north African country. The fact the Conservatives support extending the mission may guarantee Canada stays in the war zone until September, the revised end date NATO set for its mission. A simple majority vote in the House of Commons or a cabinet decision can send troops to war, both of which the Tories can do without opposition support ….”  More from  “…. Harper had announced Friday at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, that Parliament will be asked to agree to an extension after the new session opens Thursday. “The government is very committed to the mission and we can, I think, report to Parliament that it has both gone well so far and that its continuation is essential for the original reasons we embarked on it,” the prime minister told CBC Radio’s Susan Lunn ….”
  • Libya Mission (4):  Not sure yet (even though, with a majority government, we know how it would go) what Canada is doing on extending mission?  “NATO has extended its Libyan air war by three months, but Canada’s role in the prolonged mission remains unclear. In an email from Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office, a spokesperson said the future of Canada’s role in the Libya mission rests on the shoulders of Parliament. “Prime Minister Harper has been clear that Parliament will decide whether to extend Canada’s contribution to the NATO mission beyond June 16,” the spokesperson said. Hours after NATO-led aircraft launched new raids on Tripoli, ambassadors of the military alliance decided to renew the mission for another 90 days, to late September ….”
  • Libya Mission (5):  “…. Critics urged the government to define Canada’s mandate in the mission going forward, suggesting that without clear guidelines, “mission creep” could end with Canada committed to another long-term mission similar to Afghanistan. “This is an instance where we’ll want to make sure the government is being clear,” said NDP critic Paul Dewar. Complicating issues is a UN Human Right Council report accusing both Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and opposition forces of committing war crimes during the conflict. “That’s why we have to be clear on what we’re supporting,” Dewar said. The Libyan mission evolved from protecting civilians through the enforcement of a no-fly zone to strikes at ground targets and military advice to rebel forces, said former ambassador to Pakistan Louis Delvoie ….”
  • Libya Mission (6):  The Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs says it ain’t over until the guy with the funny clothes and hats is outta there“Canada’s military mission in Libya will last until the country’s violent leader is gone, says the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs. Deepak Obhrai, who represents Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird when Baird isn’t available, said Wednesday that Canada’s mission won’t be done until Moammar Gadhafi is out of power. “The end of the mission is to bring peace, stability out there, and peace and stability can only be in the region if Mr. Gadhafi’s gone, due to his murderous actions,” Obhrai told Rosemary Barton on CBC’s Power & Politics. “The final outcome of this thing to bring peace and stability to the region is for Mr. Gadhafi to go because of his crimes against humanity.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (1):  CF Info Machine says new training mission good to go.
  • Afghanistan (2):  CF Info Machine highlights PM’s visit.
  • Afghanistan (3):  Hockey visitors for the troops.
  • Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study (1):  The official word from the CF“…. In general, these results are encouraging and suggest that persons who served in the CF have lower mortality for most diseases and illnesses than civilians of the same age and sex. The results are consistent with findings from other studies examining mortality in populations with a history of military service ….”
  • Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study (2):  More official word on suicides in the CF“…. The death of even one military member by suicide is one too many. The CF have an extensive suicide prevention program in place, which includes primary prevention programs, clinical intervention, non-clinical intervention, and mental health education. Great efforts are made to identify people at risk for mental health problems and to provide them with the assistance that they require ….”
  • CF Hercs headed to SK to help evacuate fire-threatened communities.  “The Harper government is dispatching military aircraft and helicopters to evacuate two northern Saskatchewan communities threatened by raging by forest fires. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Defence Minister Peter MacKay are deploying four CC-130 Hercules aircraft and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters to help residents of Wollaston Lake and Hatchet Lake First Nations communities “facing imminent danger” as a result of a major forest fire ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (1)  When trade shows are outlawed, only outlaws will hold trade shows“A group of about 75 people from a coalition of peace organizations staged a sit-in at the gates of Lansdowne Park Wednesday to protest the opening of Canada’s largest military and security trade show. The protesters say they held the sit-in to make a point that Canada should get out of the arms trade. They plan to hold a peaceful demonstration outside the gates of Lansdowne Park each day of the event. The annual military trade show got underway Wednesday and is expected to attract between 8,000 and 10,000 people who want to look at the latest in hi-tech gear ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  As Canada’s troops prepare to come home from Afghanistan with their battered kit, the federal government is moving ahead with plans to buy the army a whole new fleet of armoured vehicles. One of the contenders for the Canadian Forces’ new tactical armoured patrol vehicles was on display at a defence industry trade show here Wednesday. Textron’s TAPV, a descendant of the U.S. army’s ASV M11-17, is a four-man mean-looking four-by-four machine that is built to withstand IED blasts and can reach speeds of 100 km/h. Company officials describe it as a workhorse. “It’s a very, very tested vehicle. We’ve been developing this vehicle for five years, and we’ve blown up a lot of them. That’s the only way you know it’s safe,” said Textron’s Neil Rutter, adding thousands of the older U.S. variant have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We know that this vehicle can equal it (the U.S. variant) and probably surpass it for reliability.” Textron is one of six companies short-listed to submit bids to the government in August. The feds are poised to buy 500 TAPVs, which will replace the fleet of soft-skinned Coyotes which have run out of room to be upgraded and are proving cramped for soldiers loaded up with gear in Afghanistan. The first vehicle could arrive in summer 2013 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (3)  A Halifax company has landed a contract that could be worth nearly $22 million over five years to help Canadian soldiers improve their aim. Armament Technology Inc. will provide the Defence Department with up to 4,500 sets of optical sighting and ranging equipment over the next year. The deal is expected to be worth $4.3 million this year, according to a federal contract award document made public Wednesday. The contract also includes the option of four one-year contract extensions for an additional 5,000 units annually, Armament president Andrew Webber said Wednesday. “It’s the standard sighting system for the standard Canadian service rifle,” he said in an interview from Ottawa, where he was attending a military trade show ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (4)  “The Conservative government wants lobbyists to butt out of Canada’s new shipbuilding industry. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose managed to raise more than a few eyebrows at a large defence industry trade show in Ottawa on Wednesday with that pronouncement. She told a large gathering of defence industry insiders, military officials, business leaders — and lobbyists — that the government doesn’t want lobbyists to play a role in Canada’s new National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. “Companies involved in the NSPS implementation process have been asked not to engage lobbyists. It was our intention at the outset to ensure that the NSPS competition would be run through a process that is completely arms length of politics,” Ambrose told hundreds in her luncheon speech ….”  More on that here and here.
  • More paratroopers standing behind paratroopers.  “Members of the international brotherhood of paratroopers are defending the disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment. “These guys have heroes dating from World War Two, it’s wrong to brand the whole unit for the crimes of a few,” retired Staff Sgt. Mike Stocker, a former U.S. Green Beret and president of the Special Forces Association of St. Louis, told QMI Agency. “They were super tight-knit, real tough and real professional. It’s unfair, it’s as if they have taken their swords, broken them and branded them all. As a paratrooper, I stand behind them.” ….”
  • VAC reminder:  you have until the end of this month to apply for Agent Orange payments.  “Veterans Affairs Canada would like to remind Canadians who may be eligible to receive Agent Orange ex gratia payments that they must submit their applications by June 30, 2011. In September 2007, the Government of Canada offered a one-time, tax-free, ex gratia payment of $20,000 related to the testing of unregistered U.S. military herbicides, including Agent Orange, at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown in New Brunswick during the summers of 1966 and 1967. In December 2010, the deadline for submitting an application was extended to June 30, 2011. Certain eligibility criteria were also modified. Applicants have until June 30, 2011, to get a relevant medical diagnosis, and no longer have to prove that they were expecting their medical diagnosis before February 6, 2006. The requirement for applicants to have been alive on February 6, 2006, has been removed. This allows more primary caregivers, including widows and widowers, to apply on behalf of a loved one who died before the ex gratia payment came into place. Veterans Affairs Canada encourages individuals to submit their completed application before June 30, 2011, with all necessary supporting information. For more information, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at or call 1-866-522-2122.” News Highlights – 23 Nov 10

  • No Canadian reaction yet, but this is scary enough to include:  North Korea has shelled a South Korean island, killing and wounding people living there.  More here – something to keep one’s eye on.
  • Postmedia News is starting to share some details about what Canadian trainers could end up doing in the newly-announced-but-not-publicly-fleshed-out training mission in Afghanistan“Canada’s war-hardened soldiers are going back to the basics for a three-year Afghan training mission. Up to 950 soldiers who would normally have been facing combat in Kandahar will now be dispatched to walled-off bases around Kabul to lead Afghan soldiers in basic training exercises between 2011 and 2014. Jogging, marching, push-ups and firing weapons will replace Taliban hunting in the Canadian playbook, under a plan rolled out Tuesday by the ministers of foreign affairs, defence and international development ….” So, what type of troops does Canada send to train the Afghans? How do you prepare those troops being sent to train? Where previous rotations prepared by training to fight and work with Afghan forces in battle, should future trainers be taught how to set up schools and training systems before being unleashed on the Afghans? Who trains the Afghan troops?  Their junior leaders?  Their officers? Outstanding discussion under way on this, including commentary from them that’s been there, at – well worth the read.
  • One tool Canada appears to be unleashing to help train Afghan cops, who are notorious for their less-than-stellar reliability and integrity:  a TV show. More from the Toronto Star“Canada is underwriting a propaganda campaign to transform the image of the notorious Afghan national police in the hearts and minds of the country’s television viewers. The half-million dollar initiative casts Lt. Humayun as a dedicated, incorruptible Afghan National Police officer trolling the streets of Kabul to settle tribal disputes and put drug traffickers and warlords out of business. The popular Saturday evening television series, Separ, is sort of an Afghan version of Paul Gross’s Mountie in the popular Due South series. The two dozen planned episodes of the show are intended to educate the country on the roles and duties of the Afghan National Police (ANP), a force that is hardly better trusted than thugs and terrorists it is meant to be targetting ….” Canada’s development agency CIDA Canada’s Foreign Affairs Ministry is pumping more than $400,000 into this one. (Correction based on Toronto Star correction of original version of story)
  • United Press International says we will be hearing more details (eventually) about Canada’s mystery purchase of Russian Mi-17 helicopters for use in Afghanistan“…. A Canadian Forces officer says the Department of Defense might release more information about the helicopters at a later date. The Defense Department acquired the MI-17 helicopters for combat use in Afghanistan but has refused to provide details about how much the deal cost taxpayers or how many aircraft are operating, Postmedia News reported ….” Kinda harkens back to summer 2006, when Russia tried selling some helicopters to Canada, which was then in a bit of a rush to buy helicopters for the troops.
  • One senior Canadian officer says the victory he’s seeing in southern Afghanistan is not the fleeting kind“Some people say it is only because the Taliban have gone back to Pakistan because it is the winter,” said Col. Ian Creighton, in charge of the operational mentor liaison team (OMLT) that has gone to war alongside the Afghan army as advisers. “And, you know, it is the truth. Some have. But others have died or given up” ….”
  • Back here in Canada, the Bloc Quebecois is pushing for a vote in Parliament on the new Canadian mission in Afghanistan (more from Postmedia News here).  And the Liberals? Well, shortly after the 16 Nov 10 announcement, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was OK with the plans for a training mission “We could conceive of a training mission …. What are we there for, anyway? …. We’re not there to run the country. We’re not there to take it over. We’re there to enable them to defend themselves.”.  His foreign affairs critic, Bob Rae, even went as far as saying, “We obviously want to see what the detailed mandate for the mission is, but a non-combat mission would not normally require a parliamentary vote.” And now?  This, from the Globe & Mail“…. “We’ve never ducked a democratic debate on Afghanistan,” (Ignatieff) told reporters in Montreal on Monday after addressing college students. The Liberal Leader said he would not propose a vote himself but that, if there is one, “we have no problem with that.”….”  I’ll say he’s being squeezed from all sides, including from within his own caucus – more on Ignatieff as wishbone from the Canadian Press here.
  • The Ottawa Citizen points out how a Conservative cabinet minister speaking in the House of Commons this week doesn’t seem to consider Afghanistan to be at war.  Reminds me of a bit of debate in the House in October 2009, where then-parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs Deepak Obhrai expressed a similar sentiment (Hansard here, more here):  “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.”
  • One American soldier’s memories of his colleagues seeing Canadian tanks in Afghanistan, via a New York Times blog“One of the most memorable moments during our 12 month tour was arriving on FOB Wilson in Zhari, Kandahar, for the weekly district security shura and watching the tanker half of my platoon swoon over the troop of Canadian Leopard 2A6Ms parked in the motor-pool. Memories of past I.E.D.s and firefights flowed through our heads. And of course, we couldn’t help but wonder, “What if…” ….” They won’t have to wonder for much longer.
  • Blog Watch: Gotta love the “Compare and Contrast” dare Terry Glavin puts out, asking folks to compare the Taliban’s latest statements and those from people and groups opposed to Canada’s continued presence in Afghanistan.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Almost 30 claimed killed, wounded in alleged attacks across Kandahar.
  • In case you haven’t heard, there’s a significant outbreak of cholera in Haiti.  Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff says Canada should go check things out and see how we can help: “…. “We just think the Canadian government cannot stand by while cholera ravages Haiti,” the Liberal leader told reporters in Montreal on Monday.  “This is a country that has been in the inner circle of the damned for the past year.” …. Ignatieff says Ottawa should send “a strategic evaluation mission right away” to take a closer look at the situation in the Caribbean country.  “Once we’ve done an evaluation around what’s needed, it may be necessary to send the DART team or maybe even some element of a military mission to basically help these cholera hospitals get this thing under control,” he said ….”
  • Finally, this, buried in an American tender award announcement“The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $7,625,501 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract (N00019-09-D-0010) to exercise an option for in-service support for F/A-18 aircraft of the governments of Switzerland, Australia, Finland, Canada, Kuwait, Malaysia and Spain. Services to be provided include program management, logistics, engineering support, and incidental materials and technical data. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., and is expected to be completed in December 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract combines purchases for the governments of Switzerland ($2,461,884; 32 percent); Finland ($1,702,014; 22 percent); Canada ($872,514; 12 percent); Kuwait ($874,264; 12 percent); Malaysia ($864,264; 11 percent); Australia ($464,714; 6 percent); and Spain ($385,847; 5 percent), under the Foreign Military Sales program. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.”

Mission Messaging Mambo: PM Speaks Again

More grist for the mill.

Globe & Mail, 29 Nov 09:

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!

More Mission Tea Leaf Reading

So far, it’s still only initial versions of stories from and the Canadian Press, but things are getting a touch clearer (but only a touch) about Canada’s future mission in Afghanistan:

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?