Canadian Politics. It's not so boring.

December 02, 2006

Liberal Convention Speeches

Of all the speeches for the four front-runners I listened to last night, only Gerrard Kennedy's was worthy of note. He spoke with sincerity and passion and apparently was the only one of the leadership candidates to recognize that Liberals haven't been at their best and it's at their best that they will always beat the others. I've felt the same thing about Liberals since I jumped to the NDP in 1995. I'd like to see a Liberal party that actually cares about people again, not just in words but actions. Not just making promises, but keeping them. The Liberals got despondent in power, too used to it, and became aimless.
Ignatieff's speech was arrogant, his smiles seemed fake almost forced, and he overused cliches. Basically, it was empty of content. An academic who apparently never learned how to talk to an audience. Surprisingly, the media didn't seem to grasp much of this, expect one shining example from a surprising source, at least for me, the National Post.

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September 22, 2006

Afghan president contradicts NDP

A recent Reality Check on the NDP website pulled a quote from Afghan President Karzai's speech to the UN to suggest that the mission in Afghanistan isn't balanced:
"Bombings in Afghanistan are no solution to the Taliban. You do not destroy terrorism by bombing villages. You do not destroy terrorism by launching military operations in areas where only the symptoms have emerged."
However, I think it's the NDP that needs a reality check. A Toronto Star article says:
In a direct rebuff to critics like NDP Leader Jack Layton who say the mission is out of whack, Karzai said Canadian efforts in Afghanistan are properly balanced between reconstruction and military support.
The remarks that the NDP quoted probably represent Karzai's opinion that there must be more than just military operations to help Afghanistan and there is. The Star article shows some of those accomplishments that Karzai discussed:
# School enrolment has shot up almost 1,000 per cent since the collapse of the Taliban, he said, with six million boys and girls in school today compared with just 700,000 boys who studied five years ago.

# Girls were not allowed to study under the Taliban but now fill more than one-third of the classroom seats.

# Unfortunately, insurgents have burned down 150 schools, triggering a decline in student enrolment by 200,000 since last year.

# The country’s per-capita income has doubled in five years but remains only $355.
It's nowhere near heaven on Earth but it's better than it was. Does Layton think that the Taliban would've allowed millions of girls to go to school?

Karzai noted, "“The tragedy of Sept. 11 showed in a terrible way the flaws of the arguments against helping Afghanistan. For one thing, it showed that, in fact, the cost of ignoring Afghanistan was far higher than the cost of helping it.”

September 14, 2006

NDP Wrong on Afghanistan

I'm sure you've heard about it by now. At the recent federal NDP convention, the NDP passed a resolution calling for Canadian troops to withdraw from Afghanistan. I was one of many delegates who voted against this resolution along with Nova Scotia NDP MP, Peter Stoffer. Obviously, our stand was in vain since our leader, Jack Layton had already decided. It seems a little strange to me when a leader of a political party reverses a policy before the grassroots has a say.

As I understand it, it was just over a year ago that the NDP and Jack Layton, in particular, backed the Afghanistan mission. Now that stance has changed. Layton doesn't admit to a reversal in policy; however, he says what was a peacekeeping operation has become a war and one under American backing. His speech to the NDP at the closing of the convention is here.

I wish had a copy of Peter Stoffer's short speech regarding why we should support the mission in Afghanistan. If anybody can find me a copy, please let me know.

Here's why I think the mission needs to be supported:

1. We're not done. Their are remnant Taliban forces that need to be destroyed. Layton used to believe this too.

2. Afghanistan has a democratically-elected government which still needs our help.

3. The US is not leading the mission, NATO is. Of course, to many NDP members, they're on in the same, a point which is over-simplification at best, ignorance at worst. We are a member of NATO therefore we have certain obligations which include this mission. In NATO, an attack on a member nation is to be considered an attack on all member nations. On 9/11, America was attacked by Afghanistan-supported terrorists.

4. We are making progress. The fact that Afghanistan has an elected government and that the Taliban has been confined mostly to the southern areas of the country is proof of that. If the NDP believes the progress isn't enough, then they should be supporting more troops to finish the job faster.

5. Afghanistan is not Iraq. There were and are now terrorists or terrorist supporters in Afghanistan. Iraq has them now only because of the invasion. There were very few, if any, there before.

It also absolutely disgusts me that Layton opporunistically called a press conference to boost himself and the NDP stance by using the recent deaths of Canadian soldiers. That was absolutely uncalled for.

For those of us who think the NDP is a bunch of cowards, please keep in mind that not all of us voted for the withdrawal. One paper reported about 5% voting against it. I would say that it was closer to 10%. Not a lot, but considering the emotionalism and considering that a recent poll found the majority of Canadians also calling for the withdrawal, it's something. Despite my riding president expecting me to vote in favour, I did not. This was a crisis of conscience for me and nobody will ever make me vote against my conscience, regardless of the consequences.