As I hoped it would, my earlier post set the cat among the pigeons. Many who responded heaped scorn upon me and pointed out (quite correctly) that the Liberals began Canadian involvement in Afghanistan, and that the Liberal motion, calling for a delayed withdrawal but meanwhile supporting the military effort, was seriously flawed. Others pointed out (correctly) that the NDP has tabled its own motion calling for our military to withdraw from Afghanistan. Still others were shaking their heads in disbelief that the NDP voted with the Conservatives.
My friend and colleague Steve Staples explains both the obvious flaws in the Liberal motion and the NDP vote by the fact that the Afghan war has become a “wedge issue” used to “score political points against opponents”. Steve has put his finger right on the problem I was trying to address. The pro-war forces are united, and the opposition is divided. Whatever the specific reasons for this, the blunt fact is that the opposition parties have handed Mr. Harper an easy political victory that should have been denied him in a minority Parliament.
Without question, antiwar groups need to work harder influence the public consensus. But a divided electorate does not absolve politicians from responsibility. In a CBC poll, Canadians voted former NDP leader Tommy Douglas the greatest Canadian of all time. What defined his greatness was his understanding that true leadership consisted in a bold adherence to principles and a willingness to act on them responsibly in the face of media manipulation and orchestrated hysteria.
There will never be another Tommy Douglas, but our current generation of politicians would do well to remember his legacy of moral courage in these troubled times.