Unlike the soldier, Harper does not think that the visit is a waste of time. It is a good photo opportunity and he is guaranteed good press coverage for his view that there should be no timetables for withdrawal. Harper is stealing from the Bush phrasebook. Canadians must keep their commitments. I wonder if in a while he won't graduate to setting benchmarks too.
Our taxpayer dollars are hard at work jetting Harper and his entourage. Not only is there pollution caused by the jet but there is the added hot air in Afghanistan resulting from Harper's political rhetoric.
Work not done, PM tells troops in Afghanistan
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 | 7:09 AM ET
Standing in a ball-hockey rink at Kandahar Airfield on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised his audience of 300 Canadian soldiers, assuring them their mission in Afghanistan was invaluable but also incomplete.
"You know that we can't just put down our weapons and hope for peace. You know that we can't set arbitrary deadlines and simply wish for the best," Harper said, deflecting critics who want the mission to end immediately or at least in two years.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper rallied the troops in Kandahar on Wednesday.
(Tom Hanson/Canadian Press) "Thank you for proving to Canadians and to people around the world that when Canada makes a commitment, Canada follows through."
Back home, the Liberals want the government to stick to its February 2009 deadline to withdraw troops, while the NDP wants Canada to end the combat mission right now.
Wednesday morning's breakfast visit was meant to rally the 2,500 soldiers stationed in the country.
Set against the backdrop of a Kandahar sky and the base's Tim Hortons kiosk, Harper borrowed a line from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whom he visited on Tuesday.
Harper said, "If the greatness of a life is measured in deeds done for others, then Canada's sons and daughters — who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan — stand among the greatest of their generation."
'A waste of a morning'
The prime minister also spent about 30 minutes meeting with soldiers and posing for snapshots in his final day of a 36-hour surprise trip to Afghanistan. He has since left the country and is due back in Canada by Thursday.
The photo ops and the meet-and-greet were a morale booster for Canadian Cpl. Simon Bowser. "It definitely proves to the people back home that he supports us, and it encourages them to support us."
Still, that opinion was far from universal. Scores of soldiers began filing out the moment the prime minister wrapped up his speech, until an officer ordered them to "get back inside."
And as soldiers waited for Harper's address, one master corporal muttered within earshot of CBC correspondent Paul Hunter that the rally was "a waste of a morning."
The prime minister kept his 10,400-kilometre trip to Afghanistan shrouded in secrecy.
Journalists were called Friday and told to pack for a warm climate and show up at a military hangar on Sunday if they wanted to join Harper on a foreign trip.
Reporters were warned they could be arrested for breathing a word about the prime minister's travel plans.
With files from the Canadian Press