NDP on Canada in Afghanistan

NDP leader Jack Layton outlined the New Democratic Party’s position on Canada and Afghanistan in a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies of the University of Ottawa on January 14th:

In 2006, New Democrat members from coast to coast to coast passed a resolution to bring our troops home. We said this was the wrong mission for Canada — the wrong way to bring stability to the people of Afghanistan. Five years later, our conviction is the same. And more and more Canadians are feeling the same way. But Mr. Harper has just broken his promise to bring our troops home this year. Instead, he has extended Canada’s military mission once again — based on a backroom deal with Michael Ignatieff, who actually proposed the idea. They denied your elected Parliament any role in their decision to keep our soldiers there. This is anti-democratic. This is wrong. This is a failure of leadership.Real leadership means putting Canadians and our values first — doing the right thing when it counts. Instead, we see Mr. Harper playing political games.
Enough is enough.

The NDP’s proposed approach includes military disengagement, diplomacy, and development.

With our experience in resolving conflicts, there’s a host of diplomatic roles we could play:
• Pre-negotiating sticky local issues ahead of a wider peace process — isolating extremists by engaging moderates who fight for the Taliban not for ideology but to feed their families.
• Making sure reconciliation includes ordinary people — especially women — not just warring factions and power players.
• Coordinating a Regional Contact Group to challenge countries in the neighbourhood to take responsibility for resolving this conflict.
• Hammering out solutions for issues that fuel the conflict — from drug trafficking to terrorism to economic development.
Anyone watching up close knows that this work urgently needs doing — but nobody’s leading the way yet.

One of those leaders can be Canada.

Layton also urged Canadians to join the NDP’s new campaign to bring Canadian troops back this summer.

Today, I’m launching a national campaign to take your voices to Ottawa. This is the time to say it: We won’t let our Prime Minister ignore us.  We won’t let him commit Canada to war without end. Stephen Harper, bring our troops home.
We choose a new role for Canada to bring hope to Afghanistan. If Canadians speak out loudly enough — if we make this uncomfortable enough for Mr. Harper — he’ll feel the pressure to change course

Tags: Afghanistan, Canadian Leadership in Afghanistan, Defence policy, Jack Layton, New Democratic Party