NDP NEWS RELEASE: Canadian leadership in Afghanistan
OTTAWA — In a major policy speech today, Jack Layton called on the Prime Minister to keep his promise to bring Canada’s troops home from Afghanistan in 2011. Speaking at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies, Layton outlined a better way for Canada to bring stability to the Afghan people.
“New Democrats have called for our troops to be brought home since 2006. Nobody can say Canadians haven’t done their share,” said Layton. “The question now is: What should Canada be doing next? Cutting Afghan aid in half and training more young men to fire guns? That’s what Stephen Harper is pushing with Michael Ignatieff.”
Prime Minister Harper has repeatedly promised to end Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan in 2011. In November, after a backroom deal was struck with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, Harper announced a three-year extension, starting with 1,000 Canadian troops.
“Mr. Harper is playing games when he calls this ‘only’ a training mission. This is a major military mission with major risks. Training up a 300,000-strong security force for a regime mired in corruption is wrong,” said Layton. “In fact, Stephen Harper says Karzai’s regime is so corrupt he won’t trust them with another dime of aid—but he wants to give them a trained army?”
Instead of arming a regime that the people don’t respect, Layton called on the Harper government to start working with the Afghan people to rebuild their country, starting with military disengagement, an increased focus on diplomacy and investments in development and aid.
“Canada can be a leader. But none of it can start until we disengage militarily. Let’s get those troops home now,” said Layton. “In the future, when we look back at the decision we are taking now, we want to be able to say: That was a hard decision, but it was worth it to do the right thing.”
See also: Nine Years and Counting (NDP Petition to withdraw the troops)