Monday, March 20, 2006

Another scary parallel

For a couple of weeks after the Cons took power, it looked like the Libs would join the other two opposition parties in recognizing the need for scrutiny of government action. But now Bill Graham and Stephane Dion have come down with a serious case of Joe Lieberman Syndrome, arguing that the responsibility of Parliament is somehow to avoid questioning the actions of the executive branch:
The Liberals appear to be lining up solidly behind the Conservative government over the mission in Afghanistan, rejecting NDP calls for a parliamentary vote on the matter.

"We are against a vote because it's a responsibility of the executive and because we should not second-guess when we have an important mission to succeed," Liberal foreign affairs critic Stéphane Dion said yesterday on CTV's Question Period...

Yesterday, both Mr. Dion and Opposition Leader Bill Graham placed themselves foursquare behind the government, with no ambiguity.

"We are in Afghanistan because the Afghans want us in Afghanistan," Mr. Graham said on Question Period. "This is not an invasion or an occupation. This is going to help people."...

(T)he only dissent yesterday came from New Democrat foreign affairs critic Alexa McDonough. "It's not only our troops that are at great risk," she said. "There are increasing numbers of Afghans who are being killed, and I think we need to have a full debate and a vote on how we can best ensure that our troops have an achievable mission and that the people of Afghanistan are best served by the contribution we make."
Coincidentally, word of the Libs' decision to turn against accountability and forward-looking debate comes on the same day that Anthony Westell picks up on the parallels between Canada's presence in Afghanistan and the U.S. occupation of Iraq:
Up here in Canada, we could always see Mr. Bush's mistakes. He plunged into the war without an exit plan. He didn't send enough troops to do the job. The goal of transforming Iraq into a democracy that would be a model for others, and thereby stabilize the Middle East, was naive.

Yet, here we go repeating his history. We have no exit plan for "our boys" in Afghanistan because we have no clear idea of what will constitute victory in this misnamed "war on terrorism." But if victory in Afghanistan means waiting until there is in place a democratic government capable of defeating any insurgency - which is Mr. Bush's goal in Iraq - we shall be there for many years to come...

Canada should contribute to the NATO force charged with defeating, or at least containing the Taliban, but for a fixed term and with a clearly defined mission. Learn from Mr. Bush's mistakes and leave nation-building to the nation.
Westell's message is one that most certainly needs to be heard, as even with Parliament apparently out of the picture the Canadian public will still need to be aware of the options available to Canada in its mission. Unfortunately, the Libs' sudden change of position has given the Cons a great deal of political cover to act without any justification...leaving only one national party demanding openness and accountability in Canada's foreign policy.

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