11.17.2010 08:08 AM

Liberals, unhappy (updated twice)

“…by even making the suggestion in the first place, the Liberals can’t speak out against the idea of the extension without coming across as a bunch of waffling wimps.

Which, of course, they are.”

That’s a pretty representative sample of opinion on the Liberal blogosphere, these days. Grits seem to be very, very unhappy with the Afghanistan result.

Messr. Rae and Ignatieff’s volte-face – on ending the war, on Canada’s foreign policy, on ratification in Parliament – has clearly left many Liberal partisans enraged. They are certainly filling my inbox with that sort of sentiment. All of the various tribes – Dionistas, Martinites, Chretienites, even Ignatieff and Rae enthusiasts – seem to be seriously pissed off. I certainly am.

Now, most Liberals aren’t as foolish as Yours Truly, of course, and prefer to make their criticisms anonymously (for now). Having experienced how the current OLO deals with disagreement, I can certainly understand that.

For my column in this Sunday’s Sun, then, I want to provide readers with a sense of the mood in the Liberal Party of Canada in the wake of the Rae-Ignatieff reversal. So if you spot a Liberal blogger/Twitterer/whateverer giving voice to that – pro or con – I’d be grateful if you’d point me in their direction, in comments or by email.

I may be wrong about Liberals being mad at Messrs. Ignatieff and Rae, but I don’t think so. Your help would be gratefully received, either way.

UPDATE: That didn’t take long.  I’ve already received a snotty email from Jason Cherniak, declaring that I should no longer refer to myself as a Liberal (to wit: “at some point don’t you think you should stop claiming to be a Liberal…?”).  Ah, Jason: you just never change, do you?  Next up: they’ll start calling Queen’s Park.  Just watch.

UPDATED: Get a load of this: Jason, a Liberal official, has sent me an “Informal Libel Notice” (whatever that is) for, apparently, calling his snotty note snotty, and for revealing that he no longer wants me to “claim” that I am a Liberal.  I’ve told him to beat it.

75 Comments

  1. hitfan says:

    The Liberals in parliament did a flip flop on Afghanistan because the President in the White House changed from an (R) to a (D), it’s that simple.

    Harper wanted out of Afghanistan because the President is now a (D). For international political reasons, he’s de-emphasizing the Canadian presence from a combat one to a non-combat one, to give Obama some geopolitical legitimacy for the continued war in Afghanistan.

    Canada has been there for 9+ years? Canada doesn’t owe the US anything.

    • Paul R Martin says:

      A very interesting comment by hitfan that has some validity. The US is our biggest ally and it makes sense to support them whenever and however possible.

      I just noticed an unusual CAPTCHA Code. It was WPFU. I hope that it was a pure coincidence rather than Warren Paul FU.

      • VH says:

        The US is our biggest ally and it makes sense to support them whenever and however possible.

        That’s not actually true.

        This is not subtle. In the long run, being a lackie is a loser. Taking the focus of your own needs (“I’ll figure out what I need and then let my allies know to see if they can help”) and putting the focus on another’s need (“it makes sense to support them whenever and however possible.”) is just the sort of thing that lackies do. You just encourage the top dog run over your needs (think softwood lumber and the $5B payout).

        We don’t need more lackies. We need real leaders like Trudeau or Chretien (“a proof is a proof is a proof”) and less lackies like Harper or Martin.

        Our needs first then see if the ally can help. Not their needs first and see how we can help them.

  2. Ted says:

    I think Rae and Ignatieff have always said that the combat mission must end, and it is, and that that should not mean Canada completely abandons Afghanistan. So, like the decision or not, there doesn’t appear to be a flip flop to me. At least with the Liberals. Harper on the other hand was unequivocal and made the promise during an election.

    When you tally the pros and cons, make sure to include me on the “don’t abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban” side. I think training police and soldiers – as we did in Haiti and Kosovo – so Afghanis can help themselves is the perfect role for a peacekeeping nation.

  3. MJH says:

    There was wringing of hands because the minority govt. wasnt willing to compromise with LIbs and the NDP “for the good of the country”. Now when there is agreement on an issue the finger pointing begins. We need to make up our minds which way we want it!!

    • Namesake says:

      Except in this case, it’s a case of “What’s this “we” stuff, kemosabe: Harper neither genuinely consulted nor obtained a consensus with the opposition as a whole; nor does the Rae-Harper position represent the considered majority position of the Liberal caucus or the Liberal electorate as a whole.

      Speaking solely as one of the latter (but arguably a highly representative centre-left one — NDP provincially, Liberal federally), I’m torn:

      I do think we owe the Afghani populace SOMETHING for our complicity in going over there to, in effect, further destabilize the country and prop up a corrupt, would-be puppet gov’t. (See, e.g., Arthur ‘The Scud Stud’ Kent’s articles on just _how_ corrupt & illegitimate Karzai is. http://www.skyreporter.com )

      But I’m certainly not convinced that military training is at all the right thing to do, particularly the way it’s being proposed (‘behind the wire,’ with no in-field mentoring);

      in fact, it seems destined to backfire, for several reasons:

      – It’ll probably still result in the same rate of Canadian fatalities
      (altho’ only a fraction of the 1,500 largely concealed injuries to date): from IEDs, rocket & mortar fire, and assassinations (see Brian Stewart linked below).

      – It’ll be largely ineffective, for reasons both Scott Taylor and Senator Colin Kenny have outlined: language barriers (Taylor notes on P&P that the Cndn forces rely completely on translators); the trainees are almost completely uneducated & illiterate, and often poorly motivated or of questionable allegiance & motivation; and they have no respect for & don’t much listen to them if the trainers don’t go out in the field with them: http://colinkenny.ca/en/p101227 & http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/train+troops+from+behind+wire/3828207/story.html

      – Ironically, it may be most effective in training those who’ll turn out to be enemies of and will use that training against the reforms we’re trying to achieve: as Brian Stewart observes,
      “In all the military or police classes that I have visited, the trainers wear sidearms and seem to accept the possibility that someone in any group of 20 or 30 recruits will have Taliban ties.” http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/11/12/f-vp-stewart.html

      – Our continued participation in the foreign occupation will contribute to the radicalization of the fundamentalists & increase the chance of terrorist reprisals both there & here.

      So considering what’s likely going to happen anyway, perhaps at this point, the right thing to do would simply be to:

      a) try to broker the peace and terms of agreement b/w the Karzai gov’t & the Taliban ASAP (which is going to happen w. anyone in the West likes it or not) & faciliate negotiations to hasten the total withdrawal of NATO (which is only making matters worse),
      with all of us just staying long enough to oversee a proper democratic election, this time; and,

      b) pledge ongoing development and training aid for CIVIL training, which is what Scott Taylor points out they really need:

      “What Afghan society lacks first and foremost is a skilled labour force. They need doctors, teachers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, even competent vehicle drivers. Harper could have announced the establishment of a vocational school staffed by a corps of well-remunerated recruits from the Afghan-Canadian diaspora. Without a linguistic barrier and no religious or
      cultural chasms to bridge, these instructors could quickly mentor thousands of students to literacy and competency within a variety of essential trades.

      In other words, Afghan-Canadians would teach Afghans how to construct and maintain the basic infrastructure necessary to improve the day-to-day lives of other Afghans.”
      http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1212110.html

    • Namesake says:

      Except in this case, it’s a case of “What’s this “we” stuff, kemosabe: Harper neither genuinely consulted nor obtained a consensus with the opposition as a whole; nor does the Rae-Harper position represent the considered majority position of the Liberal caucus or the Liberal electorate as a whole.

      Speaking solely as one of the latter (but arguably a highly representative centre-left one — NDP provincially, Liberal federally), I’m torn:

      I do think we owe the Afghani populace SOMETHING for our complicity in going over there to, in effect, further destabilize the country and prop up a corrupt, would-be puppet gov’t. (See, e.g., Arthur ‘The Scud Stud’ Kent’s articles on just _how_ corrupt & illegitimate Karzai is, at (www + skyreporter.com [cut & paste link deleting the + and spaces)

      But I’m certainly not convinced that military training is at all the right thing to do, particularly the way it’s being proposed (‘behind the wire,’ with no in-field mentoring);

      in fact, it seems destined to backfire, for several reasons:

      – It’ll probably still result in the same rate of Canadian fatalities
      (altho’ only a fraction of the 1,500 largely concealed injuries to date): from IEDs, rocket & mortar fire, and assassinations (see Brian Stewart linked below).

      – It’ll be largely ineffective, for reasons both Scott Taylor and Senator Colin Kenny have outlined: language barriers (Taylor notes on P&P that the Cndn forces rely completely on translators); the trainees are almost completely uneducated & illiterate, and often poorly motivated or of questionable allegiance & motivation; and they have no respect for & don’t much listen to them if the trainers don’t go out in the field with them: http + ://colinkenny.ca/en/p101227 & www + .ottawacitizen.com/news/train+troops+from+behind+wire/3828207/story.html

      – Ironically, it may be most effective in training those who’ll turn out to be enemies of and will use that training against the reforms we’re trying to achieve: as Brian Stewart observes,
      “In all the military or police classes that I have visited, the trainers wear sidearms and seem to accept the possibility that someone in any group of 20 or 30 recruits will have Taliban ties.” www + .cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/11/12/f-vp-stewart.html

      – Our continued participation in the foreign occupation will contribute to the radicalization of the fundamentalists & increase the chance of terrorist reprisals both there & here.

      So considering what’s likely going to happen anyway, perhaps at this point, the right thing to do would simply be to:

      a) try to broker the peace and terms of agreement b/w the Karzai gov’t & the Taliban ASAP (which is going to happen w. anyone in the West likes it or not) & faciliate negotiations to hasten the total withdrawal of NATO (which is only making matters worse),
      with all of us just staying long enough to oversee a proper democratic election, this time; and,

      b) pledge ongoing development and training aid for CIVIL training, which is what Scott Taylor points out they really need:

      “What Afghan society lacks first and foremost is a skilled labour force. They need doctors, teachers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, even competent vehicle drivers. Harper could have announced the establishment of a vocational school staffed by a corps of well-remunerated recruits from the Afghan-Canadian diaspora. Without a linguistic barrier and no religious or
      cultural chasms to bridge, these instructors could quickly mentor thousands of students to literacy and competency within a variety of essential trades.

      In other words, Afghan-Canadians would teach Afghans how to construct and maintain the basic infrastructure necessary to improve the day-to-day lives of other Afghans.”
      http + ://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1212110.html

  4. Doug says:

    Honestly I just wish the two leading parties would treat us like adults. Don’t feed me the nation-building garbage, all the “girls going to school” shit as though anybody in government cares about Afghan schoolgirls. Just tell Canadians you think it is in our strategic best interest to support the Americans, and the reasons why.

  5. Lance says:

    “Having experienced how the current OLO deals with disagreement, I can certainly understand that.”

    THEN –

    “UPDATE: That didn’t take long. I’ve already received a snotty email from Jason Cherniak, declaring that I should no longer refer to myself as a Liberal.
    =============================================

    Wow Warren – when you’re right, you’re right.

    • Lance says:

      “UPDATED: Get a load of this: Jason, a Liberal official, has sent me an “Informal Libel Notice” (whatever that is) for, apparently, calling his snotty note snotty, and for revealing that he no longer wants me to “claim” that I am a Liberal. I’ve told him to beat it.”
      =================
      Wow, I guess so; as well you should!

      If this is how “the current OLO deals with disagreement”, then perhaps it is time to get a NEW OLO. Or at least get rid of arrogrant, former Liberal bloggers/”officials” with britches too big too carry.

      • Paul R Martin says:

        One thing I have learned from Warren is that it is not Libel if it is true. It is amazing how some little people can get their shorts in a knot.

  6. Should we stay or should we go would be a great election ballot question. Guess that’s tit’s up now because of the waffling. Hate to say it, Libs, but Ignatieff isn’t your guy. Best have an election at the earliest date so that Libs can lose and he can step down. (Or you could plot against him – perhaps hit up the Martinites out there for hints on how to do it.)

  7. Peter1a says:

    Despite all our rhetoric “sturm und drang” it seems that in fact there is only really one party in this country.

    It’s a Conservative-Liberal one. So what are we fighting about here, our masters have spoken, we simply must comply !

    In poll after poll we have shown conclusively that the Canadian public wants the troops out of Afghanistan NOW!! Polls average 66% for out.

    Apparently our masters care not. Maybe it is time to look at other parties ??

  8. Lance says:

    What is really sad is that the only party that is putting forth a principled position in regards to this mission extension is the NDP.

    I can’t believe that I just said that, but there it is. But then, they are the only ones that haven’t waffled, one way or the other.

    • Ted says:

      You may disagree with the decision to stay, but it’s hardly unprincipled and the NDP decision to oppose is hardly principled when they have a knee-jerk reaction to all foreign ventures like this.

      • Lance says:

        Agree or disagree with it, at least the NDP’s stance on this issue has been what it is since day one; there has been or is nothing “knee-jerk” about it. The Tories were for an extension, then they were against it, then they were for it, but at least they are all on the same page. The Liberals can’t even agree within their own party as to what their collective stance should be. You may say that this doesn’t make them “yes-men/women”, and thus disagreement and debate is healthy and mature. However, there is nothing healthy or mature about what is going on in the Liberal party today when a gormless hack like Jason Cherniak can declare who is and who isn’t a Liberal, especially to people who have proven their predigree (like Warren here) time and time and time again.

    • Ted is correct, the NDP are playing small politics. Ready the Manley Report. Canada is training and doing redevelopment work in Kabul. They are doing the same thing in Haiti. The NDP are using this issue to create a wedge with the hawks and herbivores within the Liberal Party.

      The NDP only have herbivores. They have NEVER supported a mission or trade deal. They are isolationist and protectionists that have never won 20% of the national vote.

      Ignatieff and Bob have been consistent with the new facts since June 2010 and shrinking from the world stage is not an option.

      • Cath says:

        It’s not small politics the NDP are playing CanadianSense. Layton’s actually doing something much, MUCH smarter. In his stance, however annoying it is leaves the big red Liberal machine in the dust. When the NDP look better on their feet than the Liberals and Layton can do that by doing what he does daily, it may seem like small politics now but he’s going to be the next official opposition if the Liberals keep Ignatieff.

        I ask again, where the heck is the liberal member base? I can’t believe they’ve stood for Ignatieff this long.

        By the way Warren, you are right in your original post.

        • James Curran says:

          Dear Cath,

          There is no Liberal base. They have chosen to laughat them and get rid of them at every level all the way down to the riding associations.

          • terence says:

            james, for want of a better description, your comment is crap snd a lie. I am in a Liberal association and we are very active and have our base motivated.

      • smelter rat says:

        Afghanistan and Haiti are not comparable. Goof.

  9. Lance says:

    By the way, I’ve not bought a copy of the Toronto Sun’s Sunday Edition in I don’t know how long. But I’ll certainly be buying one this particular Sunday.

  10. Ted H. says:

    I heard Bob Rae on “As It Happens” last night. He or preferably Mr. Ignatieff should make a public statement or speech on the Afghan issue. There are reasons to stay, for instance to keep our good standing in NATO, now that we are a pariah with the UN. There may be a moral reason not to abandon the Afghan people, they may actually care what we do. Like it or not, perhaps we have no choice but to work with the US on this. Whatever the reasons, and while they may not be popular, they may be the responsible choices a government or future government (which discounts the NDP) must make and Mr. Ignatieff must speak to them.

    • nic coivert says:

      I don’t think they should do that at all. It is not the job of the opposition to defend government policy, even if it isn’t opposing it.

      • Ted H. says:

        It is not a question of defending government policy, it is a question of defending his own policy considering the Liberal and NDP opposition to it.

    • Ted says:

      You mean something like this:

      “From his scrum yesterday, the Liberal leader explains why we’re staying in Afghanistan for another three years:

      >> Let’s get back to first principles. Why are we taking this decision? Because the only reason Canada is there is to help Afghanistan defend itself. What is not credible about the Bloc and the NDP is they say we don’t want to abandon Afghanistan. We want to make sure that Afghanistan is secure and safe. But they’re not willing to do anything that the Afghans actually want which is to train their army to be able to defend the country. We think this is a tough decision but it’s the right decision as a matter of principle …

      We feel that this is a position that actually meets the national interest because the deal here is you can’t have the Bloc and the NDP coming out there and saying let’s just walk away from Afghanistan and leave them a lot of fine words. At the end of the day, this is about Canada. And when Canada is asked by its allies and when Canada is asked by the Afghan people get us ready to defend ourselves, I think Canada should respond as we are responding, as the government has responded…

      I think there’s no honest way to talk to the Canadian people except by being honest about risk. I think the risk is substantially diminished from a combat role. Our soldiers will not be walking up the lanes in Kandahar risking putting their feet on IEDs. That is over. That will stop. But the honest thing to say to Canadians is that there’s always risk when you’re in an area where there has been fighting and violence and war. And it’s only honest to tell Canadians that. But I can honestly say that we’ve looked at the risks and we believe the risks are substantially reduced and that we can accomplish this mission with safety to our forces.”

      Like the decision or not, Ignatieff – unlike the bloody Prime Minister of our country – is not afraid to stand up and speak honestly and openly with Canadians.

      We deserve an explanation directly from the PM and right here on our own soil, instead of hightailing it out of the country and leaving your Director of Communication – your bloody unelected, unaccountable Director of Communication for crying out loud – to make such an important foreign policy change.

      Why is Stephen Harper so afraid of Canadians?

      • Ted H. says:

        Yes, exactly like that, I hadn’t seen that statement before, thanks for bringing it up

      • James Curran says:

        Because that is what the leader believes doe not mean caucus believes it and, it certainly doesn’t mean Canadians are now a-ok with either Ted. They’re not. We’ve been training for 9 years. We don’t even train our own men and women that long Ted.

    • Sir Falstaff says:

      Considering the reasons behind “being made a pariah with the UN,” staying in Afghanistan definitely isn’t going to help matters. It’s just going to make things worse.

  11. Art Williams says:

    I consider myself former Conservative turned independent.

    Too things that have disturbed me about the Afghan war from the outset are:

    1. It is a war against a tactic (terrorism) and unlike previous wars winning cannot be measured. Used to be, you fought, stormed the capital city, signed the armistice and the war was over. Now, wars can (and will) go on forever (or the US formally declares bankruptcy).

    2. We never been told what pressure the Americans put on us to be there. Being a cynic, I can’t believe that our country’s proverbial arm is not being twisted. I want to know the facts.

    P.S. to Warren: Unlike the CPC, Liberals don’t have to poke out their own eyes and swear allegiance to the Leader. I am glad that you and others are engaging in a healthy and honest debate on this issue.

  12. Ted says:

    Re: Update.

    I’ve been told by many that I’m not a true Liberal because I’ve supported the war in Afghanistan. Some, like Jason, will say you aren’t a true Liberal unless you’re drinking the kool-aid.

    I hate that approach. I really really hate it. That kind of mentality is what is really “un-Liberal”.

    This has to be the party where we can have strong disagreements. The Liberal Party membership has reflected Canadians better than any other party and Canadians disagree on these issues so it is natural to have opposing views on big issues.

    We lose ourselves and we lose the electorate if we start trying to put a straightjacket on policy. We become either whimpy bunch of yes-men/women and follow the leader automatically no matter what who are completely disconnected from Canadians, like today’s Conservatives caucus, or we become rigidly ideologues like today’s Conservative leader and the NDP who are completely disconnected from Canadians.

    • Warren says:

      Thanks Ted.

      Loyalty tests are very 2003-2006. They didn’t work.

      I and others believe this decision is wrong on many levels, and have said so.

      Those who feel it is the right decision should say, too. I just haven’t received any of those, yet.

      • Michael says:

        Knowing you both, I know you are top gents and top Liberals. Jason tries his best, but he gets too emotionally caught up with the inside baseball B.S. I remember when he accused me of abandoning the party because I turned down the opportunity to become a riding President for what I consider to be quite legitimate personal and business reasons.

        Anyway, in this case I agree with Ted and not with you, Warren. I don’t believe any of us can say with certainty that we had legitimate reasons for going to war, but that horse has left the barn. Having destabilized a stable – albeit dreadful – country, how dare we leave without giving them the best possible chance of survival? Improvements have been made for the lives of many, especially women and children. Abandoning them to the Taliban now would be a tragedy.

      • Ted says:

        “I just haven’t received any of those, yet.”

        You mean other than mine, right up above.

        I know a lot of Liberals who don’t quite get what the issue is here at all, given that we have put soldiers in just as much danger doing non-combat roles in the past and that we have done this kind of training for even more corrupt leaders as part of our peacekeeping past.

        I’ll try to encourage them to write to you.

        • Warren says:

          No, no, sorry.

          This is not an Internet poll, where one side “wins” over the other by swamping someone (in this case, me) with tons of emails or whatever.

          I have heard from enough MPs and Senators to know what caucus thinks; I am only interested in a sampling of smart opinion from others to get a sense of whether that is representative or not.

          Thanks.

  13. billg says:

    I think its the right decision, and think Mr Ignatief did the right thing. I guess my point of view is, what is worth fighting for? If it takes 100 years then so be it. I just cant imagine Canada being a country that pretends bad things arent and dont happen, and, when they do happen shrug and say its not our war, its unwinable, its too costly and, its none of our business, or, we’ve been there 9 years and its someone elses turn. Maybe its just me, but, thats not my Canada and Im please with the Liberals stance, and, Im pleased Mr Harper has not listened to his demons and banged the snot out of the LPC over it.

  14. That’s not what I wrote. If you’re going to refer to a comment that you rejected, you should at least quote it in full.

  15. John Mraz says:

    Hullo Warren et al!

    As a Liberal (Anyone not OK with that? Is there an appeals process?) I support Canada’s ongoing presence in Afghanistan, not only inside but outside “the wire”. In fact, I support the continuance of a full military presence. So there. As I told Warren more than a year ago, I never believed that we would or should leave, as there remains no safe endgame for that nuclear region, and thereby the world. I have written stuff for the papers to that effect – so I won’t belabour my arguments here.

    Yet Warren and I respectfully disagree with each other – and stay friends. Spooky eh?

    To that point, what I will belabour is Warren’s right – as a loyal Liberal – to question the party’s leadership, both privately and publicly. If his view is that of a slim minority, then what harm could it cause – as it proves my party to be one capable of enduring dissent and promoting dialogue? In it turns out that Warren’s position is that of the majority, then he should be lauded for bringing the views of the grassroots to the bar.

    The whole trick to this “democracy thing” is to have an open debate about what’s best for country, party, and leader, neh?

    Or was it just to stay mum and follow orders?

    jm

  16. Jesse says:

    Months ago, Bob Rae talked about a non-combat training mission and the need to parties to discuss the role Canada would play post-July 2011. The CPC are basically adopting his idea and doing so in a rushed, amateurish manner. Does no one pay attention?

    See: http://bit.ly/cnvEai

    We can agree or disagree with the idea of a training mission, but let’s not pretend that it wasn’t talked about before or that the LPC has done a “volte-face.”

    • John Mraz says:

      Quite right. I think that many are flummoxed both because until of late MI had not so unequivocally weighed in as BR had; and because MI has not expansively consulted caucus (until this morning) on the issue.

      jm

  17. Namesake says:

    Well, like many who vote (but apparently can’t _call_ myself unless I refrain from dissenting publicly) Liberal federally, I’m torn:

    I think we may owe the Afghani populace SOMETHING for our complicity in going over there to, in effect, further destabilize the country and prop up a corrupt, would-be puppet gov’t. (See, e.g., Arthur ‘The Scud Stud’ Kent’s articles on just _how_ corrupt & illegitimate Karzai is. http://www.skyreporter.com )

    But I’m certainly not convinced that military training is at all the right thing to do, particularly the way it’s being proposed (‘behind the wire,’ with no in-field mentoring); in fact, it seems destined to backfire, for several reasons:

    – It’ll probably still result in the same rate of Canadian fatalities (altho’ only a fraction of the 1,500 largely concealed injuries to date): from IEDs, rocket & mortar fire, and assassinations (see the CBC Brian Stewart article).

    – It’ll be largely ineffective, for reasons both Scott Taylor and Senator Colin Kenny have outlined: language barriers (Taylor notes on P&P that the Cndn forces rely completely on translators); the trainees are almost completely uneducated & illiterate, and often poorly motivated or of questionable allegiance & motivation; and they have no respect for & don’t much listen to them if the trainers don’t go out in the field with them: http://colinkenny.ca/en/p101227 & http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/train+troops+from+behind+wire/3828207/story.html

    – Ironically, it may be most effective in training those who’ll turn out to be enemies of and will use that training against the reforms we’re trying to achieve: as Brian Stewart observes, “In all the military or police classes that I have visited, the trainers wear sidearms and seem to accept the possibility that someone in any group of 20 or 30 recruits will have Taliban ties.” http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/11/12/f-vp-stewart.html

    – Our continued participation in the foreign occupation will contribute to the radicalization of the fundamentalists & increase the chance of terrorist reprisals both there & here.

    So considering what’s likely going to happen anyway, perhaps at this point, the right thing to do would simply be to try to broker the peace and terms of agreement b/w the Karzai gov’t & the Taliban ASAP (which is going to happen w. anyone in the West likes it or not) & faciliate negotiations to hasten the total withdrawal of NATO (which is only making matters worse), with all of us just staying long enough to oversee a proper democratic election, this time; and…

    …pledge ongoing development and training aid for CIVIL training, which is what Scott Taylor points out they really need:

    “What Afghan society lacks first and foremost is a skilled labour force. They need doctors, teachers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, even competent vehicle drivers. Harper could have announced the establishment of a vocational school staffed by a corps of well-remunerated recruits from the Afghan-Canadian diaspora. Without a linguistic barrier and no religious or cultural chasms to bridge, these instructors could quickly mentor thousands of students to literacy and competency within a variety of essential trades.

    In other words, Afghan-Canadians would teach Afghans how to construct and maintain the basic infrastructure necessary to improve the day-to-day lives of other Afghans.”
    http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1212110.html

  18. James Bowie says:

    Well I had fun at your last libel triel. This one, i expect, might have fewer skinheads.

  19. Volkov says:

    Definitely, Warren, I’d play this very carefully, because whatever you write in the Sunday Star is going to come across as something bad to someone else if you don’t, just helping to exacerbate the divisions in the party.

    My sense of the entire debacle is that various groups within the Liberals, including pro-extensioners like myself and anti-extensioners like, say, Eugene Fornsey Liberal, are more or less united by the thought of how stupid the decision to not push a vote is. By choosing not to, the leadership is helping unite usually divided Liberals against them. That’s just as well, because at least we can all agree on something.

    Oh, and Cherniak is an idiot if he thinks constitutes anything close to “libel.”

  20. DL says:

    “The NDP only have herbivores. They have NEVER supported a mission or trade deal. They are isolationist and protectionists”

    FYI: The NDP supported the NATO mission in Kosovo and Bosnia and has also been supportive of various other peacekeeping missions in the Middle East, Cyprus, Haiti etc… They happen to think that Canada’s involvement in the Afghan war has been a colossal waste of time, money and human lives – and i agree and so do the vast majority of Canadians.

  21. Kingston says:

    Really,, Did you people not see this coming, it was obvious to me as a soldier that we were staying in a training capacity months ago, the only question was what party was going to provide the govt with political cover to make it possible. As to the survey, I think we should man up and stay as long as we have too, the last time that country was left in a political vacuum we all know what happened

  22. Christian says:

    I’m a Liberal Party member and this morning I called the party to terminate my monthly donation. The reason I gave was the leadership’s handleing of the Afghan mission extention. My main concern was that there was no debate or vote in the HOC. The party worker on the other end of the line noted that deciding on whether to have a vote or not is in the hands of the PM. I agreed but countered that in our parliamentary democracy it is the duty of the Official Opposition to hold the gov’t and PM of the day to account for reversing a previously held and stated position and push for such a vote especially when it comes to making a decision that will cost the country more in terms of blood and treasure. If the mission extension is aas honourable and proper as the gov’t and certain senior members of the Official Opposition beleive it to be then they should have nothing to fear by holding a debate and taking a vote. By not taking the gov’t to task over its reversal and by not demanding a debate and vote in the HOC the Official Opposition has abandoned its duty, undermined whats left of our democracy and even worse made a mockery of the Afghan mission itself, which supposedly is being conducted in the name of democracy. How can we fight for something that we clearly don’t practice? As I then informed that Party worker, I cannot in good conscience financially support a political party that does not take the job of Official Opposition seriously. In my view the Liberal Party’s actions are worse then the Conservative’s because the Liberal leadership enables Harper. Unforgivable.

    • James Curran says:

      Actually Christian, you should be just as appalled that there was no debate, zero, nadda nadda enchillada within the Liberal caucus. THATis what is the most disturbing thing a Liberal should be pissed at.

      • Christian says:

        I agree, I should and I am. Apparently the caucus gave Ignatieff a rough ride yesterday. I think there are a fair number who are PO’d about being cut out of the discussion. As we see this morning there was backroom dealing going on between Rae and Cannon. Not good.

  23. Michael Behiels says:

    Harper has made the right decision but as usual in a minority government situation he has had to do so in a way that is not democratic. The first casualty of war is democracy. If anyone should understand this it is Ignatieff. Instead, Ignatieff is also ready to undermine democracy in the name of his idealistic and impractical Responsibility to Protect Doctrine. He used this doctrine and a belief in weapons of mass destruction ( when there was no evidence to support the claim) to justify his support for Bush’s invasion of Iraq. He remains a prisoner of this dangerous ideology.

    Harper was not convinced by Ignatieff and Rae to prolong the Afghan mission. These two ‘stooges’ were merely the means to Harper’s end, keeping the troops in the Afghan theatre of war at any and all costs. Including the undermining of Canadian democracy. And, Harper has managed to do so in such a way that his hands are not tied by a narrow mandate debated, voted on and passed in the House of Commons.

    Harper got exactly what he wanted and what he believes that he needs to extend the Afghan mission. The decision on when and where and under what circumstances Canadian troops will move beyond the wire remains entirely in the hands of the Prime Minister. Like Harper bragged – he is in charge and he make the rules and calls the shots.

    Harper bowed to the enormous pressured put on him by our major allies in NATO, especially the new Conservative PM of Great Britain, and President Obama, our most important trading partner and the largest purchaser of Alberta’s heavy oil. Alberta’s and Canada’s future prosperity resides on petro-dollars and so Harper did what he believes he had to do.

    The naive boy-scouts, Ignatieff and Rae, have been outfoxed yet again by Harper. And to boot, the civil war in the Liberal Party and caucus has been reignited in ways that both of these silly stooges should have seen coming.

    With support for the NDP on the rise, Harper stands to win more seats in south western Ontario because the centre-left vote will be split. Ignatieff’s dream of attracting old-time Progressive Conservatives is just what it is, a hopeless dream. These voters have gone the way of the dodo bird, their are extinct. Prentice knows this and jumped ship for 2 M dollar a year job with a bank. Peter Mackay will soon follow his lead.

  24. patrick says:

    I am saddened as a Liberal that Harper seems to be palying this one perfectly with Liberal assent. Whatever, I beleieve it IS the right decision and was at Liberal function where many agreed.

  25. hugger says:

    As General Petraeus has stated it would take 600,000 troops to rid Afghanistan of the insurgents, for now. Which leads me to wonder what exactly is it that supporters of remaining in a training capacity look forward to accomplishing overall? Also, what is their projected time frame to achieve these goals?

    Without a rehash of of all the military realities, Afghanistan isn’t Iraq, nor is it Vietnam. There are some similarities to Vietnam of course, but there is no equivalent to the NVA and thus no large enemy force to engage. The insurgents pick their times, hit run hide and on occasion come out for an exchange that they mostly get the worst of, except in propaganda and fear value.

    Afghanistan’s cultural realities are what separate it from the other two above, and will for a very long time. That is what the proponents of continuing there either don’t acknowledge or dismiss as a necessary consequence of stroking Uncle Sam, or more pointedly, the warhawks.

    IMHO the best that would result from a long term continuation is to carve out a bastion for one more Warlord to operate from. That one being Karzai. There are simply too many interested and armed parties in the area for them all to come together and undertake beating swords into ploughshares.

    In short, I would much prefer this important issue is not left open to willy nilly speculation, nor seen as a football of some sort to be lateraled back and forth between Camp Ignatieff and Camp Harper via winks and nods over the floor of the house of commons. I think Canadians have voiced their views repeatedly and at the very least, deserve the consideration of a vote in the great chamber of smoke and mirrors.

  26. Namesake says:

    Like many who vote (but apparently can’t _call_ myself unless I
    refrain from dissenting publicly) Liberal federally, I’m torn:

    I think we may owe the Afghani populace SOMETHING for our complicity in going over there to, in effect, further destabilize the country and prop up a corrupt, would-be puppet gov’t. (See, e.g., Arthur ‘The Scud Stud’ Kent’s articles on just _how_ corrupt & illegitimate Karzai is. http://www.skyreporter.com )

    But I’m certainly not convinced that military training is at all the right
    thing to do, particularly the way it’s being proposed (‘behind the wire,’
    with no in-field mentoring); in fact, it seems destined to backfire, for
    several reasons:

    – It’ll probably still result in the same rate of Canadian fatalities
    (altho’ only a fraction of the 1,500 largely concealed injuries to date):
    from IEDs, rocket & mortar fire, and assassinations (see Brian Stewart, linked below).

    – It’ll be largely ineffective, for reasons both Scott Taylor and Senator
    Colin Kenny have outlined: language barriers (Taylor notes on P&P that the Cndn forces rely completely on translators); the trainees are almost completely uneducated & illiterate, and often poorly motivated or of questionable allegiance & motivation; and they have no respect for & don’t much listen to them if the trainers don’t go out in the field with them: http://colinkenny.ca/en/p101227 &
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/train+troops+from+behind+wire/3828207/story.html

    – Ironically, it may be most effective in training those who’ll turn out to be enemies of and will use that training against the reforms we’re trying to achieve: as Brian Stewart observes,
    “In all the military or police classes that I have visited, the trainers wear sidearms and seem to accept the possibility that someone in any group of 20 or 30 recruits will have Taliban ties.” http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/11/12/f-vp-stewart.html

    – Our continued participation in the foreign occupation will contribute to the radicalization of the fundamentalists & increase the chance of terrorist reprisals both there & here.

    So considering what’s likely going to happen anyway, perhaps at this point, the right thing to do would simply be to try to broker the peace and terms of agreement b/w the Karzai gov’t & the Taliban ASAP (which is going to happen w. anyone in the West likes it or not) & faciliate negotiations to hasten the total withdrawal of NATO (which is only making matters worse), with all of us just staying long enough to oversee a proper democratic election, this time; and…

    …pledge ongoing development and training aid for CIVIL training, which is what Scott Taylor points out they really need:

    “What Afghan society lacks first and foremost is a skilled labour force.
    They need doctors, teachers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, even
    competent vehicle drivers. Harper could have announced the establishment of a vocational school staffed by a corps of well-remunerated recruits from the Afghan-Canadian diaspora. Without a linguistic barrier and no religious or cultural chasms to bridge, these instructors could quickly mentor thousands of students to literacy and competency within a variety of essential trades.

    In other words, Afghan-Canadians would teach Afghans how to construct and maintain the basic infrastructure necessary to improve the day-to-day lives of other Afghans.”
    http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1212110.html

  27. moose says:

    Ted is long winded but short on intelligence

  28. Sattva says:

    I’m an old Trudeau Liberal who voted Liberal my all life but I will NOT vote for our modern day Liberal party. They do NOT walk the talk. They are an embarrassment.

  29. michael hale says:

    There’s that old adage that once a political narrative gets enough legs and attaches itself to a politician, it’s impossible to stop. The accusation that Martin was a ditherer is a good example. After it took hold, it was impossible to shake, regardless of whether it was accurate or not.

    These narratives take hold, because they are repeated often enough but also because they resonate with the public. They feel “true” in some way.

    That’s the ultimate risk for the current Liberal leadership. For a range of reasons that don’t need to be repeated, there is a perception among many that current leadership squashes democracy internally and in its public dealings. It is becoming a narrative that is very dangerous for a party that wants to form government.

    It will take time to undo, but at the very least, they need to start by putting the mission extension to a debate. From there, they need to re-evaluate how they make the decisions they make.

    • hugger says:

      All very nice michael, from a politically saleable standpoint and I do appreciate the worth of that, I also fully appreciate the weight of accusation, but..

      this is an issue that goes beyond those things. An issue that transcends the ever flowing framing of issues. This is a human thing that should not be shrouded from the people who are expected to fund it, offer their children for it, be encouraged to believe that they are offering their best for a cause without full understanding of what that cause is likely to accomplish.

      If the two major parties choose to avoid full debate on this issue, they not only deny democratic process, they exude an exceptional arrogance which can be seen as them making the statement that the thought process of anyone that differs from them, is irrelevant. That they, like Czars of old are the only ones capable.

      That is how I see it, and I have been around a while.

  30. James Curran says:

    Warren, is that the same Jason Cherniak, Central Region President of LPCO, who recently said to various riding presidents not once, not twice, but three times in one conversation that membership in the Liberal Party is “irrelevant”? That Jason?

  31. Blair Shumlich says:

    Personally I love the decision. The Liberals have been calling for this for a while; people weren’t upset until the Conservatives agreed with them.

    Yes, Canadians run the risk of being hurt over there. But we made a commitment to the people of Afghanistan, which I for one think says: “If we invade you, we will try to rebuild you. We will do our best to allow you success.”

    Sometimes politicians have to do what is right, not necessarily what is popular. I for one think that those who are “demanding” that this go into the House of Commons aren’t doing it for some high-minded notion of democracy–we’ve all seen Question Period–but because they want political pressure to stop the decision.

    • Namesake says:

      Agree we should do what’s right but not nec’ly pop., but disagree that the powers that be really know this is really the right course of action:

      see my first comment above based on Scott Taylor & Colin Kenny’s analysis of why more Cndn. military training, esp. behind the wire, is a BAD idea;

      plus even the Afghani leader we installed & are still propping up, President Karzai, is criticizing NATO forces & tactics — you know, the ones we’re being buttonholed to try to teach them.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/13/AR2010111304001.html

      So it looks quite likely we’re going to waste half a $-billion+ a year (even while cutting the other development aid in half) and risk more lives… all so we can: a) salve the conscience of the ‘let’s not look too deeply into this’ types like you; and, acc. to an increasing no. of pundits, esp. b) throw a bone to Barrack Obama to increase his chances of reelection in 2012.

  32. Jeff P says:

    I think that we have to seperate the decision and the process here.

    The decision is the right one. We should be there and making a serious contribution. Training makes sense to me. We’ve been on the front lines for far too long. Someone else needs to step up. But that means there need to be highly skilled people on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines. Less dangerous to be sure, but not out of danger. Ignatieff put it very well in his scrum as noted earlier.

    But what kills me about this OLO, and always has, is that it has a tin ear when it comes to caucus. Caucus management has never been its strong suit. I know for a fact that senior OLO staff have told juniors told that what staff thinks is more important than what caucus thinks, and they should act that way. Truly scary stuff

    They don’t seem to get the fact that the OLO should be there to support caucus, and allow them to make informed contributions to decisions – even where the leader wants to take a decision that doesn’t have the support of caucus. And dont’ get me started on the lack of an independant research bureau over there.

    The bottom line, though, is that the decision that was made is sound, and was made for very strong policy reasons. If they had managed process better this would not have been a difficult situation.

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