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M. Coderre is Wrong

M. Denis Coderre, the Liberal Party of Canada’s defence critic, is wrong. We are not talking about his “fact finding” mission in Afghanistan – the one about which he says no facts can be allowed to change his or his party’s position about the need for Canada to withdraw from combat operations in February 2009. We are talking about this:

"We're not abandoning the Afghan people. There might be another way at the military level to help them … But we believe about the combat mission that rotation [out of a combat role] is in order … If we say there is a rotation, we don't have to be shy. We did a great job for three years."
(Source: The National Post, 9 Oct 07 - )
In essence M. Coderre proposes that Canada should do less in order to
encourage other NATO members to do more. He actually appears able to
say this preposterous nonsense with a straight face.

spent long enough (roughly 1969 through 1995) doing far, far less than
its ‘fair share’ of NATO’s work. That we have, in the Balkans and now
in Afghanistan, resumed our traditional and rightful place as a willing
leader of NATO’s secondary or middle powers reflects credit upon Prime
Ministers Chrétien, Martin and Harper and, indeed, upon M. Coderre who
served in the Chrétien and Martin cabinets and, therefore, must have
actively supported the Afghanistan mission – including the essentially
open ended* combat mission in Kandahar.

What M. Coderre,
speaking on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada we presume, proposes
is that Canada should abandon the attempt to restore our leadership
position – the attempt begun by Prime Minister Martin in 2005 and
continued by Prime Minister Harper – and revert to Pierre Trudeau’s vision
of Canada as a disengaged, weak, poor little country beset by too many
domestic social and political problem to do anything like lead in the

Canada is not weak. Canada is not poor. Canada is not
little. It does have internal domestic problems, just like every other
country on the planet – the only difference is that, compared to most,
our problems are small and easy to resolve, peacefully.

No one
is forcing Canada to be a leader. No one has to care about Canadians’
views on issues such as Darfur. Quite frankly, the world does not need
“more Canada”- during the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, the world got along
quite well with Canada riding along for free in the cheap seats. But,
Prime Ministers Martin and Harper appear to have been convinced that
Canadians want to be heard in the world, to lead. Ruxted contends that,
at a minimum, Canada should do what is right
- in this case, helping establish a stable and secure environment in
Afghanistan so sustainable reconstruction and development can happen,
and the rule of law can be promoted.

If Canadians want to return
to the Trudeau vision then, as soon as possible, they will endorse M.
Coderre’s views and, presumably, his party, too.

If Canadians
want to matter; if they want their voice to be heard in the world then
they will reject M. Coderre and all who agree with him.

Ruxted Group is firm in its positions: Denis Coderre is wrong. He
represents failure for Canada, not just in Afghanistan but as a
responsible member of the world community.

We will not encourage
other NATO members to take on additional duties in Afghanistan if we
return to our previous position of abandoning the responsibilities we
agreed to carry. If we are going to lead then we must lead by example.
Deeds matter more than words, especially M., Coderre’s ill considered
and illogical words.

* Although the mission
was announced as having a one year (Feb 2005 to Feb 2006) ‘mandate,’
governments of Canada have routinely extended mandates of various
missions (UN and NATO). Not extending a UN or NATO mission is


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