|TroothPress - Canada|
Mike Blanchfield Canwest News Service - November 23, 2008
OTTAWA -- The Canadian Forces will continue to play an active role in world hot spots even after troops are withdrawn from Kandahar in southern Afghanistan in 2011, Defence Minister Peter MacKay says.
In an interview with the Canwest News Service, MacKay hinted that Canadian troops might still have a role to play in Afghanistan after 2011 - the deadline set by Parliament for the end of the current combat mission - and if they do not, the Forces will likely be called to duty elsewhere.
"There are many ways in which we can make contributions beyond 2011. What we've said is the current combat mission, the current configuration, will end in 2011. That's a firm date, confirmed by Parliament and respectful of Parliament," MacKay said.
"After 2011, I suspect, and I don't want to speculate, there's always going to be a call for Canada to participate where we're needed, when we're needed. We've never shied away from that. We've always stepped up." MacKay also brushed aside any suggestion that if Canada ends its high-profile combat mission in Afghanistan it might diminish the enhanced reputation the Forces have benefited from in recent years. "I hope that we have elevated in the hearts and minds of people in our own country just how important having a robust military is. That includes peacekeeping but it also includes to do the business when called upon, whether it's been in Afghanistan, or as it has been in past conflicts in Korea or Yugoslavia or in places around the world like Haiti." Canada has been criticized for focusing all of its military efforts on Afghanistan at the expense of other world crises zones, particularly in Africa, where ongoing violence in the Darfur region of the Sudan and in the eastern Congo has demanded attention. A Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan or a dramatic scaling back of the 2,500 troops now in Kandahar could also open the door to a greater focus on Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest and most unstable country. MacKay has said that he expects U.S. president-elect Barack Obama to be knocking on doors of Canada's allies to do more in Afghanistan, particularly some Western European countries that have been criticized for not allowing their troops to engage in front-line fighting in the country's violent south. However, analysts and political opponents of the Conservatives say that Canada will likely face a request from Obama to stay in Kandahar beyond 2011, especially if the new Democratic president makes good on his promise to add several new U.S. combat brigades to Afghanistan, as many as another 10,000 to 15,000 troops. After Obama's Nov. 4 victory, the Harper government moved quickly to emphasize that it would not budge from its 2011 withdrawal date. That two-year extension of the mission was approved by Parliament earlier this year after the minority Conservative government forged a hard-won consensus with the Liberal opposition. During this fall's Canadian federal election campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper placed renewed emphasis on the 2011 date. Some, particularly the NDP, accused Harper of saying what Canadians wanted to hear to get elected, and warned that he could still prolong the mission. Harper's comment on the campaign trail fleetingly raised the profile of the Afghanistan mission in a campaign that was dominated by the economy. At the time, Harper's comments were seen as the strongest to date by the Conservative government in support of a Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan. "I was a little surprised, quite frankly, at the consternation that erupted mid-campaign because it was very much on the Parliamentary record as to what our commitment would be," said MacKay. Within the government, he said, there has never been any doubt about what happens in 2011. "It was extended once before. It went from '09 to '11. That led people to speculate. I'm not going to get into the speculation at all: 2011 is a fixed date. Everyone understands that." © Canwest News Service 2008
THE DOCTOR: Accurately predicted by Trooth Reporters last week. Big Media uses terms like 'withdraw' and 'bailout' to trick the general populace into thinking they are actually doing something else. If they were planning on removing the troops from the mission because the mission has ended, that is something entirely different. They would just say that's what they were doing, if that was the case. Surely it hasn't been so long that we don't remember this:
Mission Accomplished: circa 2003
Same thing. The "mission" is about as accomplished now as it was then. It's almost equivalent to taking a driving test, and declaring yourself a fully licensed driver because you put on your seatbelt and adjusted your mirrors. The US government later stated this was just a single mission of many, and the occupation in Afghanistan would continue. MacKay said almost the exact same thing: this was just one mission that will be ending in 2011, and are other missions in Afghanistan Canada will participate in.
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