Liberals make much of the fact the prime minister has, apparently, changed his mind over leaving troops in Afghanistan. They have a point, but surely one can appreciate that Canada must also pay heed to its allies in NATO or across our southern border.
Internal politics aside, Canada has foreign interests and obligations and cannot always make unilateral decisions, even when we may want to do so. My feeling is we’ve expended enough lives, casualties and treasure in Afghanistan and should pull out in 2011, lock, stock and barrel. I understand, however, we can’t always get what we want.
Why the Grits’ caucus should be so vociferous over PM Stephen Harper’s decision is puzzling though, considering they offered little or no dissent on the issue when their leaders Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae showed support earlier this year for a military training mission after the 2011 end to our combat role.
The Globe and Mail tells us today that Liberal MPs are “furious” at Michael Ignatieff’s decision to support the Harper government’s extension of the Afghan mission without any consultation or vote in the Commons. So vehement was the outcry at a closed-door party meeting, Toronto MP Bob Rae, had to stand up and support Ignatieff, reminding caucus members that the Liberal position was outlined this summer. Back then, the Grits supported troops staying in Afghanistan to help train the military and police.
At the time, of course, Liberals believed the Harper government would bring the troops home next July as scheduled. No one thought the PM would change his mind, so being for the training mission was okay. Had the PM not changed his mind, the Grits would be hammering him for that. Oy vey!
With Liberals, it doesn’t really matter what is in Canada’s best interests or what may be right for the world. So long as they can find a way to discredit Conservatives, their job is done.
Last Friday morning, Mr. Rae reportedly told The Globe and Mail he supported the government, saying there was no need for a debate or vote in the House of Commons. Later that day, Mr. Ignatieff supported Mr. Rae’s view.
If the Liberal caucus feels it must have a chance to vote on the training mission, there’s no need to wait for the prime minister to do anything. The Liberals could use a scheduled opposition day to force a vote on Thursday, one day before the start of a NATO leaders’ summit in Lisbon, Portugal November 18-20.
The ball is in the Liberal’s court, it’s their decision.