From the Winnipeg Sun:
The panel, chaired by former Liberal foreign minister John Manley, recommended Canada stay in a combat role in Kandahar province beyond February 2009 -- but only if it received the support of 1,000 additional troops from NATO or an allied nation, and obtained more helicopters and surveillance aircraft.
Yesterday Harper specifically embraced those conditions. He added he wanted time with his party to consider other parts of the report before bringing his government's plan to Parliament for a vote this spring.
Firstly, Mr. Dion and Mr. Rae are quite correct in taking a "wait and see" approach to all of this. More specifically, they should insist that no vote be taken in the HOC on a mission extension until after the April meeting of NATO leaders, which should help determine our allies' willingness to send reinforcements to Kandahar. A decision made before-hand just lets NATO off the hook
Secondly, any reinforcements should go beyond the short-term infusion of U.S. troops planned for this Spring.
And, assuming all of this happens and Canadian requirements are met, I am still conflicted. While more helicopters to help our guys avoid IEDs are always welcome, 1,000 extra bodies will do nothing to alleviate the real problems with the Afghan deployment, most especially an open Pakistan border that makes fighting the Taliban next door like stomping roaches in your living room while the rest of the building goes unsprayed.
However, such a NATO commitment would help alleviate the feeling Canadians get that we are being played for a sucker by the rest of the alliance, that we have been invited to a poker game in which we are the only party not allowed to cheat.
So, as I say, conflicted...