This is from the Star. Other articles note that an election might be precipitated by the Afghan motion. I think that neither main party wants an election on Afghanistan. There might be problems controlling the debate. The relationship of the mission to US hegemony might be drawn out as well as the reactionary nature of the Karzai govt. Some might even point out the illegality and immorality of the mission from the first but that is doubtful. James Laxer presents some of the reasons to hope for an election on Afghanistan at his blog.
The Liberal party is also split on Afghanistan. Just listen to the weasel words of Ignatieff that as usual undercut his leader Dion:
Earlier in the day, deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff struck a more conciliatory tone than Dion. “This is the most important thing Canada’s done in 50 years. We are anxious to work with the government to find a respectable, honourable compromise that serves the national interest.” He questioned whether it is “in the national interest for us to plunge the country into a bitter election on an issue where Canadians, I think desperately, right across the partisan divide, want us to pull together and do our jobs as politicians.” (Canada.com)
This is unconscious humor of the same sort as when various vacuous pundits describe the Manley report as independent and bipartisan..Certainly it isnt multipartisan since it doesn't even countenance pulling out. Linda McQuaig points out the nature of the Manley panel:
The Manley panel may help deliver that — by putting pressure on Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, who has vowed to end the combat mission in 2009.
The Manley team will likely recommend continuing the mission. Manley himself is a pro-American hawk who, as foreign affairs minister in the wake of 9/11, famously struck a combative tone when he stressed the country's war-fighting past, telling reporters " Canada does not have a history as a pacifist or a neutralist country."
The rest of the panel, including former Washington ambassador Derek Burney and former New York consul-general Pamela Wallin, have been involved in efforts to convince Washington that Canada isn't soft on terror, the Star's Thomas Walkom noted.
Senior party figures look at defeating government over Flaherty’s blueprint rather than Afghanistan
Feb 07, 2008 04:30 AM ALLAN WOODS LES WHITTINGTON Bruce Campion-Smith ottawa bureau
OTTAWA—The Liberals are moving closer to defeating the minority Conservative government and forcing an election over the federal budget rather than waiting until a possible showdown over the future of Canada’s Afghan mission.The federal budget is expected at the end of the month or early March — before Prime Minister Stephen Harper will ask MPs to vote on a Conservative motion, to be introduced tomorrow, extending Canada’s military mission in Kandahar.Several senior Liberals made it clear that they are more inclined to defeat the Conservative government over its budget package, prompting an election that would focus on Canada’s increasingly troubled economy and the issue of how much Ottawa should be doing to help laid-off workers and struggling manufacturers.“Nobody is keen to fight an election over the war in Afghanistan, with questions about troop morale and all that,” Liberal Senator David Smith said yesterday, echoing the thoughts of many of his caucus colleagues yesterday.“The budget, we’re told, will be first, so the decision is: Yes or no, will we support the budget?” said Liberal MP and finance critic John McCallum.“You’d rather go into an election over the budget than the war in Afghanistan,” one senior Liberal said. Both the NDP and the Bloc Québécois have indicated they would vote against the budget. If all three opposition parties vote against the budget, the government would fall. This year’s budget is expected to be largely a steady-as-she-goes document that rehashes the personal and corporate tax cuts and the GST reduction announced in the October mini-budget. With the central Canadian economy flagging, the Liberals think a stand-pat budget could leave Harper vulnerable.The Conservatives, who won a minority government on Jan. 23, 2006, now hold 126 of the 308 seats in the Commons. The Liberals have 94, the Bloc 49 and the NDP 30. There are four independent MPs and five vacancies.Following a meeting with Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion on Tuesday, Harper decided to introduce a motion extending the mission beyond February 2009. While the motion is to be introduced tomorrow, the actual vote would not be taken until the end of March, just before Harper is slated to go to a NATO meeting in Romania, where he is planning to seek more troops to help Canada’s contingent of 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan. Debate on the motion will begin next week. “The choice is clear. We either stay and do the job with our military in Afghanistan or we leave. We believe we should get more commitments from our allies and stay,” Harper said in question period yesterday.The motion is essentially an endorsement of a recommendation made by former Liberal deputy prime minister John Manley in a report to the government last month. Manley said Canada should not stay beyond February 2009 unless it gets 1,000 more NATO troops and equipment to help in Kandahar province, where 78 Canadian soldiers have been killed. Dion told reporters yesterday the Prime Minister told him the vote on Afghanistan will be a confidence issue. Since both the NDP and the Bloc are demanding a withdrawal of troops before February of next year, if the Liberals did not support the Conservatives, the government would fall.Dion said Harper seemed unwilling to budge from his position that Canada’s current role stay the same.“I suggested to him that the Liberals were ready to contemplate a non-combat role for Canada ..... and he said he wants to continue the combat mission, so on that we have a big difference,” Dion said.Dion, who wants Canada to downplay its military role in Afghanistan in favour of more efforts to train local troops and spur economic development, said he’s ready to fight an election over the war.“I’m never afraid of anything,” he said after meeting his caucus. Liberal insiders worry that, in an election precipitated by a vote over the mission, Harper would try to paint the Liberals as unpatriotic.While Liberals say they would rather have a showdown over the budget, many are also saying they are prepared for a showdown on Afghanistan, too.“We don’t want to go to an election on Afghanistan especially, but he’s taking our soldiers hostage and he’s trying to manoeuvre and to provoke an election,” said one Liberal MP, speaking on condition of anonymity. “That’s what we’re facing now and he’s playing with fire.”In their meeting Tuesday night, Harper gave Dion a draft version of the motion that reiterated the government’s hope to extend the combat mission beyond February 2009, but was silent on the many challenges facing the mission.“There was nothing in the motion about the problems we have with the opium economy, the problems we have with the border (with Pakistan), the problems we have with development ..... and detainees,” Dion complained.The definition of Canada’s “combat” role in Kandahar lies at the heart of any potential compromise between Harper and Dion. While the Liberals seek an end to offensive military operations, they are open to soldiers remaining in Kandahar to take on “security” roles.Deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said Liberals “have been clear that we think the combat role should come to an end. The issue then is how you define a military and security role because we understand that you can’t build schools, you can’t get the irrigation flowing, you can’t do the good things. . . unless you have a military and security role,” he said.Parliament takes a break in the last two weeks of March, starting on the 14th, with MPs returning to Ottawa March 31. A late March vote would also come after four federal by-elections are held on the 17th. The votes are expected to give the Liberals at least three new MPs, including foreign affairs critic Bob Rae.