Thomas Walkom writes:
The opposition Liberals want Prime Minister Stephen Harper to clarify what he plans for Afghanistan. But he is clear. He says he's bringing Canada's troops home.
The real puzzle is: What would the Liberals do?
This is not an academic question. By the time Canada's scheduled troop withdrawal begins next July, we may well have had another election. Should Michael Ignatieff's Liberals win, it will be up to them to decide how to proceed.
The Prime Minister...says the entire Afghan military mission will be terminated.
If he's sincere, that means Canadian troops won't be staying on as trainers or advisors – which, to a large extent, is what they are doing now. Nor will they provide security for reconstruction.
Actually, I think Walkom's got it half backwards. In an interview last week with CBC radio, Lawrence Cannon (I think) dodged and weaved and bobbed so bad over the question of training police/troops in Kabul post 2011, that it sounded either like he hadn't been told what the talking points were or the Tory gov. as a whole doesn't yet know its own mind on the issue. In any case, the minister certainly didn't rule anything out.
So, it would be nice if Iggy laid down a few markers indicating that, no, any involvement in the Afghan issue after 2011 will not involve the Canadian military. There is clarity needed on this issue; Harper and co. are not providing it, and if the official opposition doesn't step up and say what is acceptable from its POV, our guys will be getting shot at and blown up from 2011 until god knows.