Michael Ignatieff says he’s willing to go along with the idea of a vote in the Commons on Canada’s decision to keep troops in Afghanistan until 2014.
I still have a problem with the idea of Liberals coming to this vote conclusion late and in reaction to criticism, but how we get there is secondary to actually bringing this extension to a more formal public debate. I would add however, we’ve seen once again that you can’t do an end around and not expect blow back, any attempt to avoid Liberal divisions has only exasperated them.
Now that Ignatieff, and others, have signalled a vote would be amenable, we can move on to the actual substance of the new mandate. In that regard, I fully support a training mission, that’s been our policy and it’s a sound, reasonable response to a trying situation. No matter your personal view of how we got there, whether we should have gone in the first place, the fact remains we did go, we are there and "dates" are arbitrary realities that don’t do justice to the ongoing process, whether it be training, development, nation building, etc. Canada has invested much, so the idea of fully retreating seems intellectually immature- not only isn’t it practical but it isn’t morally irresponsible in IMHO. Canada also has an obligation to it’s partners, so if we can find a way to offer support, while respecting domestic concerns, it’s a satisfactory compromise.
The Liberals are very much a big tent on this issue. I simply don’t fear dissent, and I’d argue that the path to avoid open debate actually risked creating worse divisions. Let’s have the debate, supporters of the mission need not worry, the numbers are there, even if some in our party are squimish or against. Let all views be heard and put it to a vote. Ignatieff is expressing the only real option, as I argued earlier, it really is vote or bust, anything less, met with a stench that will cloud the legitimacy of this mission- it’s as simple as that.
Democracy is messy and protracted. Supporters might not like the disjointed path, but it’s a necessary part of the equation, which we can’t sacrifice, just because one take a particular view. If the Liberals have truly taken the voting option off the table, then it eliminates chief hesitations, allowing many of us to support this extension purely on the grounds, rather than the process distractions. It’s the right decision.
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