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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.


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