Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to blame for Afghanistan mission extension, activist says

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      The Stephen Harper government’s decision to keep a significant number of troops in Afghanistan past the scheduled July 2011 pullout didn’t come as a surprise to Canadian Peace Alliance cochair Derrick O’Keefe.

      What was shocking to the Vancouver antiwar activist was the possibility of nearly 1,000 Canadian troops and military staff remaining in the war-torn country.

      On November 7, Defence Minister Peter MacKay told reporters in Halifax that Canadian troops may remain “behind the wire” to help train Afghan army and police personnel.

      “What MacKay did over the weekend was make public a decision that has been clearly coming for many months, if not having been the plan all along,” O’Keefe told the Straight by phone.

      O’Keefe said it’s ridiculous for the Conservative government to expect Canadians not to see this as simply an extension of Canada’s war effort.

      “These numbers should really make it hard for the government to spin this as a noncombat, peacekeeping mission,” he explained.

      According to O’Keefe, under Michael Ignatieff’s leadership, the federal Liberals have made it easy for the Harper government to make this decision.

      “If you had to blame one person or party for this move right now,” he said, “you can actually fault Ignatieff and the Liberals more so because they have been publicly advocating for this war for some time.”

      O’Keefe argues that both the Conservative and Liberal parties are ideologically in favour of the war in Afghanistan, as well as being receptive to pressure from NATO and the U.S. government to extend the mission. Canadians should question the timing of the announcement, he said, charging that the Harper government is using Remembrance Day to “drum up patriotism for this war”.

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      glen p robbins

      Nov 9, 2010 at 7:54pm

      We'll see.


      Nov 9, 2010 at 10:49pm

      Perhaps "both the Conservative and Liberal parties are ideologically in favour of the war in Afghanistan" is probably more honestly stated as "both parties agree that extending Canada's involvement in the mission is the best of a really bad bunch of options from which they must choose".


      Nov 10, 2010 at 9:06am

      Isn't Ignatieff supposed to be the leader of the Liberal Party? Looks like the neocons have taken over two of our parties, which means we're screwed unless we get a minority Liberal government with the NDP in opposition.

      unknown sample

      Nov 10, 2010 at 9:36am

      I have difficulty with any federal Liberal opinion or position in regards to the armed forces after their decades long neglect of the armed forces. This neglect spoke volumes.

      In my opinion, Iggy and his ilk care only about gaining and keeping power. The men and women in the armed forces are merely pawns for these sheltered bureaucrats.

      Anything they say is not for the good of the armed forces or the people of Canada, but rather to advance their own political agenda. Do these people stand for anything at all?

      Pretty rich coming from the party that lobbied for the release of Omar Khadr's father from a Pakistani jail.