Canada's stay in Afghanistan extended by 2 years

I, along with every other soldier, sailor, and airman in this nation has been eagerly awaiting the outcome of this vote. The result is proof that there are those in our Government that are willing to take a hard stand on the defence of our Nation and the betterment of the lives of others around the Globe. I can honestly say that this is the most impressed I have been with Liberals in a long, long time.


Canada's stay in Afghanistan extended by 2 years
Last Updated Wed, 17 May 2006 22:42:56 EDT
CBC News

With the latest death of a Canadian soldier fresh in their minds, members of Parliament have voted to approve an extension of the military mission to Afghanistan.
Capt. Nichola Goddard is the first Canadian female soldier to be killed in combat since the Second World War. (Department of National Defence Photo)

* INDEPTH: Afghanistan

The vote was close, but the government prevailed 149-145. It means Canadian soldiers will remain in Afghanistan two years longer than previously planned.

The death of Capt. Nichola Goodard, 26, was reported as the Commons gathered on Wednesday to debate the merits of a government proposal to extend the mission.

A defiant Prime Minister Stephen Harper led off the debate by declaring he would extend the mission by a year, with or without the support of the House, and would be willing to call an election on the issue, putting the ultimate decision directly into the hands of Canadians.

"We cannot walk away quickly," Harper told the House. "If we need further efforts or further mandate to go ahead into the future, we will go so alone and go to the Canadian people to get that mandate."

Harper said the mission is in Canada's interests and important in the fight against terrorism.

"The events of Sept. 11, 2001 was a wake-up call, not just to Americans but to people in all free and democratic nations. Two dozen Canadians were killed as result of the attacks on the twin towers . . . Canada is not safe from such attack, and we will never be safe from such attacks as long as we're a society that defends freedom and democracy."

Under six-hour grilling

The Conservatives announced the vote for a two-year extension earlier this week, and MPs spent about six hours debating whether Canada's troops should come home next February or stay in Afghanistan until early 2009.

The Bloc Québecois and New Democratic Party said they would vote against the motion, while the Liberals said their MPs could vote according to their conscience.

Liberal Leader Bill Graham said he would wait to see if the Conservatives answered all his questions regarding the two-year extension before deciding which way to vote. In the end, Graham and 29 other Liberals supported the motion.

But he did criticize the government for holding a vote without providing sufficient time to debate the issue. Graham said his party supports the troops and the mission in Afghanistan, but that MPs would be voting "with a gun put to our heads."

NDP leader against extension

During the debate, NDP Leader Jack Layton said he would vote against the motion, saying the mission would mean Canada would stray further from its traditional role as peacekeeper.

In the end, both the BQ and the NDP voted against the motion.

The government, supported by some Liberals, saw the motion carried.

Canada has about 2,200 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, part of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom.

Previously, Canada was a participant in the NATO-led International Stabilization Assistance Force (ISAF), and it has been reported that Canada could take over leadership of the larger NATO mission in Afghanistan in 2008.

I support this motion, and I am happy to see that it has been adopted by the House of Commons. I congratulate both the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P., the Member for Calgary Southwest and the Prime Minister of Canada, and the Honourable Brill Graham, P.C., M.P., the Member for Toronto Centre and the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, for having stood up for the futures of Canada and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Mogz, many non-serving citizens were anticipating this vote, too. When I heard that the Liberal Party of Canada would be having members vote their conscience, rather than voting at the hand of the party whip, I was (a) happy to see a free vote (since I think that every vote, with the exception of matters of confidence), and (b) simultaneously concerned, since I knew that this presented quite a risk of defeating the motion, as can be seen by the fact that this motion was adopted only be a majority of four members. I have supported this mission for quite some time, and I am relieved to see that the Commons agrees with my sentiments.

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