Published: Tuesday, August 29, 2006
QUEBEC - Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe called on the Harper government Monday to address the effectiveness of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan in light of reports regarding the resurgence of the heroin trade in the battle-scarred country.
Quebec soldiers won't take the lead role in the Afghanistan mission until next year, but troops from CFB Valcartier who have served for six months in Afghanistan have returned and a new contingent of 33 members of the Royal 22nd Regiment left Monday to train the Afghan army.
Duceppe questioned whether the international effort is enough, noting the resurgence of regional warlords and resumption of the heroine production.
And he said Prime Minister Stephen Harper has accepted the view of U.S. President George W. Bush that ''it's the devil against God'' an opinion Duceppe does not share.
''Soldiers do a very risky job and they have all my admiration for that,'' he said. The problem is ''the kind of risky policy that the government has.''
''The question is, are the international efforts enough to maintain peace over there?'' Duceppe asked. ''Are we applying the necessary policies to make sure the Taliban is not coming back?
''It seems not to be the case.''
Nelofer Pazira, the Toronto-based, Afghan-born journalist who starred in the film Kandahar, wrote in an article carried by several British newspapers last week from Kandahar that the Taliban and warlords involved in the heroine trade are making gains, saying the poppy farmers have welcomed the Taliban.
Afghanistan is the source of 90 per cent of the world's heroin. The Senlis Council, a Paris-based think-tank, has suggested the licensing of medical-morphine production to offer the farmers a livelihood and to undercut the illegal drug trade.
Pazira said Canadian troops in the area are also fighting a ''war on drugs,'' quoting an Afghan named Wali saying, ''If tomorrow the British and Canadians announced that the growing of poppies was allowed, the people wouldn't let the Taliban stay in the country.''
Duceppe noted that the Paris-based weekly Nouvel Observateur in its Aug. 14 edition quotes an unnamed diplomat who alleges that ''(Afghan President Hamid) Karzai's brother controls 70 per cent of world heroin production.''
''That is worrying if it is true,'' Duceppe said.
If there's one thing monopolies hate, its change.