December 29, 2006


Go ahead Layton and Duceppe, tell those girls who are learning to read that they are not worth the effort. You leftist pussy assholes.

Afghanistan could be a Tory Waterloo

OTTAWA - The opposition parties are threatening to pull the plug on the Tory minority government over its handling of the mission in Afghanistan.

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe warned Monday he might table a non-confidence motion if the mandate of Canadian soldiers in the war-torn country doesn't change.

And the other opposition parties suggested they might join a Bloc effort to that effect in the new year.

Mr. Duceppe said the mission needs to be "rapidly and profoundly" retooled and must focus more heavily on reconstruction instead of fighting.

He said the government is failing to secure troop commitments from other NATO countries and the current mission risks becoming a results-free sacrifice of human life.

"We will not go along with an obtuse government that digs in its heels," Mr. Duceppe told a Quebec City audience.

"Because if nothing changes, we are certainly going to get stuck."

"If (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper refuses to make these changes, we won't hesitate to withdraw our support and, if need be, to defeat his government on the Afghan question."

Mr. Duceppe described Afghanistan as one of three possible reasons to defeat the government. The others are climate change and the alleged federal-provincial fiscal imbalance.

Such a motion on Afghanistan would pose a particular dilemma for the Liberals, who signed up Canada for the mission in the first place while they were in power.

The party is now divided on the issue but its new leader has been critical of the current mission.

"We'll wait to see (the motion) before making a choice," Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said.

"Our mission in Afghanistan has enormous problems. One of the main reasons for that is half the Afghan economy is involved in an illicit activity (the poppy trade) that is filling warlords' coffers."

Mr. Dion is calling for a so-called Marshall plan and for alternate means to compensate farmers who grow poppies. However, he has been vague so far about what he would propose.

As for the Tories, Mr. Dion said they have only themselves to blame if they appear fragile.

"This government is vulnerable — thanks to its very right-wing policies, which are very far from what Canadians want," Mr. Dion said.

"I know this government can fall."

Forty-four Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed since the Afghan mission began in 2002, the majority of those casualties this year.

But the Canadian who recently led the NATO mission for nine months says much was accomplished under his watch.

Brig.-Gen. David Fraser says 146 kilometres of new roads and more than 100,000 metres of irrigation canals were finished. Another 1,000 wells were dug in Kandahar province by Nov. 1, when the Dutch assumed control of the mission.

"We're making important progress in Afghanistan," said International Co-operation Minister Josee Verner.

"We will not abandon the Afghan people who are looking to build a democracy ... and looking to take control of their future..."

"I'm thinking especially about the women. It's out of the question for me to return them to the darkness. We know what sort of horrific regime they lived under."

"Little girls go to school today - which they could not do when the mission started in 2001."

Among Canadian federal parties, only the NDP has formally called for a troop withdrawal and it appears likely to support any motion of the sort Mr. Duceppe is proposing.

"We have never had confidence in Mr. Harper's approach to this foreign policy matter," NDP Leader Jack Layton said.

"We have said so and we have voted accordingly and it would not be a surprise to Canadians to have us continue on that path. We believe that change is needed here."

Mr. Duceppe denied that his hardening of opinion against the mission is a matter of political convenience.

Quebeckers have been more skeptical than other Canadians about the mission, surveys say, and opposition in the province may deepen when 2,000 soldiers from Quebec are deployed to Afghanistan next summer.

But Mr. Duceppe said he has been voicing the same objections for months. "I make absolutely no distinction between someone from Petawawa (base in Ontario) and someone from Valcartier (in Quebec)."

Copyright 2006 - The Canadian Press

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