Thursday, October 01, 2009

Afstan: What the Commons' resolution says and what the government says

Obfuscation, to put it gently. Further to this post,
CAN Troops to Stay Post-2011?
here's a comment by at
.... from the House of Commons (Hansard, QP, 30 Sept 09) - highlights mine:

Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Foreign Affairs about Afghanistan. The motion that we passed in the House was very unambiguous and very clear with respect to Canadian troops being redeployed out of Kandahar by December 2011. Certain comments have been made by other ministers and by other candidates for the Conservative Party with respect to the intentions of the Conservative Party post-2011.

My question for the Minister of Foreign Affairs is about Canada's presence in Afghanistan. Is he sticking to the motion that was passed by the House in March 2008?

Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I will say this clearly and succinctly so that the member will understand. Yes, we are sticking to that motion. Yes, the Minister of National Defence answered that question previously with the same response that we always give. We are putting an end to our military combat mission by 2011, and that is clear.

Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the problem is that yesterday outside the House the minister said something else. The other problem is—

An hon. member: No, he didn't.

Hon. Bob Rae: The record will stand. The record will stand.

Mr. Speaker, what I would like to ask the minister is very clearly it states that Canadian forces will be redeployed out of Kandahar by December 2011. It is unambiguous and clear.

I would like to ask the minister, how is that compatible with the statements by the minister, as well as the statements of the candidate who is running in Ajax? The two statements are incompatible.

Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the answer to his question is yes. I would strongly recommend that the hon. colleague read the transcript so that it will be clear. He might not understand what is written, but we all understand that is what it means.
News story:
The Conservative government is being asked to clarify its position on whether Canada will remain at war in Afghanistan after Parliament's deadline passes to pull out combat troops.

Questions arose after Defence Minister Peter MacKay said on Tuesday that the government was considering whether Canada's 300 soldier reconstruction team, called PRT, could remain in Kandahar after 2011.

But he appeared to add to the confusion on Wednesday when he refused to rule out the possibility of the Canadian military training teams remaining in Kandahar.

"Well there's been no decision taken on that," he said.

In March 2008, the parliamentary motion agreed to by the Conservatives called on the government to "end its presence in Kandahar as of July, 2011." It did not make concessions for leaving any troops behind.

During question period in the House of Commons, Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae pressed the government to clarify its position...

The confusion seems to centre on the word 'combat' and whether troops that secure development workers or train Afghan soldiers and police officers, fall under that category.

But military historian Jack Granatstein, a senior research fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, said he believes they do.

"They go out on operations, the mentors go into the field with Afghan battalions, and they fight alongside them, the police mentors are with the police and the police are under what seems likes almost constant fire."

Granatstein said the parliamentary motion is a little less than definitive and that the government likely believes those Canadian trainers and the troops who provide security for development are exempt from the motion.

"So there's simply no doubt that if we leave troops there, although they may not, in quotes, be combat troops, they will nonetheless be in the line of enemy fire," Granatstein said. He said the confusion around the future of the mission needs to be cleared up...
From the resolution, March 13, 2008:
(c) the government of Canada notify NATO that Canada will end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011, and, as of that date, the redeployment of Canadian Forces troops out of Kandahar and their replacement by Afghan forces start as soon as possible, so that it will have been completed by December 2011...
It's simple. "Combat" or not, and what constitutes combat, are irrelevant at this point. The resolution is clear. The CF will be out of Kandahar by the end of 2011. If there is to be some continuing military mission in Afstan it will have to be somewhere else. Which, to my mind, is practically impossible for a mission of any size, especially one involving the PRT or trainers in the field with the ANSF (it would be madness to move given the local expertise and experience we have), or the Air Force (too much invested at KAF to make a move sensible in any way).

The government is dancing madly to avoid the clear meaning of the resolution. Any ongoing CF mission at Kandahar will require a new Commons' vote. The last thing the government wants before an election. So the dancing will continue, regardless of the facts.

Skill Testing Question on Canada's Afghan Mission


Blogger said...

Couldn't have put it better myself - in fact, I didn't ;)

It'll be interesting to see if there's any linkage, as some say, between what we do on the mission post-2011 and, oh, I don't know, OTHER things being discussed out there?

9:08 a.m., October 01, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With crap like this going on it is no wonder everything is so screwed up over there.

11:24 a.m., October 01, 2009  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 10/01/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

2:03 p.m., October 01, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home