Liberals taking Rideau Institute advice on Afghanistan?

You may recall, on Friday last week I sent a letter to all of the opposition party leaders asking them to use their upcoming opposition day motions to prompt a debate on the military mission in Afghanistan. The NDP called for an emergency debate on Monday, but it was rejected unfortunately by the speaker.

Today, Mr. Denis Coderre of the Liberal Party introduced a motion that is expected to be debated tomorrow, Thursday, April 19, 2007. The motion calls for the conclusion of Canadian combat operations in Southern Afghanistan at the end of the current commitment in February, 2009, and to notify NATO of this decision immediately.

We welcome Mr. Coderre’s motion, but we also have several concerns about the motion as it stands, and I am available to discuss them further.

Pertinent to this debate is the very sobering findings in the UN Secretary General’s report to the UN released only a few weeks ago. A Rideau Institute summary and link is here, and we have sent this information to all Members of Parliament.

Mr. Coderre’s motion, as it appears on the order paper, reads as follows:

April 17, 2007 — Mr. Coderre (Bourassa) — That, (1) whereas all Members of this House, whatever their disagreements may be about the mission in Afghanistan, support the courageous men and women of the Canadian Forces; (2) whereas in May 2006, the government extended Canada’s military commitment in Southern Afghanistan to February 2009; (3) whereas it is incumbent upon Canada to provide adequate notice to the other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of our intentions beyond that date; (4) whereas by February 2009, Canada’s military mission in Southern Afghanistan will represent one of the largest and longest military commitments in Canadian history; and (5) whereas Canada’s commitment to the reconstruction and security of Afghanistan is not limited to our combat operations in Southern Afghanistan; this House call upon the government to confirm that Canada’s existing military deployment in Afghanistan will continue until February 2009, at which time Canadian combat operations in Southern Afghanistan will conclude; and call upon the government to notify NATO of this decision immediately.

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