My letter to Opposition Party Leaders

In light of this week’s events, today I sent a letter to opposition party leaders appealing to them to raise the issue of the Afghanistan mission in Parliament when it resumes next week.

Specifically, I am suggesting that the parties devote an opposition day motion to spur such a debate. It is my understanding that the first opportunity for this would be the Liberals’ opposition day scheduled for Thursday, April 19, 2007.

My letter is below:


Hon. Stéphane Dion, Leader of the Official Opposition

Gilles Duceppe, Leader of the Bloc Québécois

Hon. Jack Layton, Leader of Canada’s NDP

(Via Facsimile)

April 13, 2007

Dear Leaders,

I write to you on an urgent matter. This week, Canada lost eight more soldiers in Afghanistan.

While our soldiers place their lives in harm’s way on a daily basis, carrying out their duty to our country, Canadians at home have been subjected to a disruptive political shell game about whether there will be an election. This incessant positioning diverts much-needed attention from the more important issue of our flagging military mission in Afghanistan.

As you prepare for Parliament’s resumption next week, I urge you to make a commitment that at the first Opposition Day allotted to your party, you will table a motion expressing grave concerns about the current Canadian mission in Afghanistan and calling on the government of Canada to refocus our efforts to diplomatic and peacebuilding efforts in that country.

If the government fails to redirect the mission toward these new priorities, then Canada should end its military operations in Afghanistan at the termination of its current commitment in February, 2009.

There is a growing consensus among policy experts that the military mission has reached its limits, and that a new diplomatic approach is required. This new consensus was expressed by Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute fellow Brian Flemming in the pages of The Globe and Mail this week, when he wrote that

In the end, as in most postmodern insurgencies, victory or defeat will be decided at a negotiating table where the “scumbags” will be present. Instead of mocking this possibility, as some have done, Canada’s leaders must accept the probability that only skillful political negotiation will provide an honourable way to extricate forces from a place where many great empires have tasted defeat.

As Canada’s opposition party leaders, you have all expressed concern with the mission as it currently stands. Your Opposition Day motion is an appropriate way to express your concern.

I cannot think of a more critical and urgent issue upon which Mr. Harper should be asked to focus the attention of the government.

Thank you.


Steven Staples


Tags: Afghanistan, Steven Staples