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Thread: Canadians question Afghan role after deaths

  1. #1
    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Central Duh-hio

    Default Canadians question Afghan role after deaths

    Canadians question Afghan role after deaths

    Updated 9/10/2006 11:22 PM

    By Bill Nichols, USA TODAY
    TRENTON, Ontario A stark line of five hearses waited under blustery skies last week as five flag-draped caskets began to be unloaded from a Canadian military cargo plane.
    On the tarmac at 8 Wing Trenton, the air base here, a sobbing 13-year-old son was passed through the enveloping arms of relatives. One toddler clutched a yellow rose. Another sucked on a pacifier as he paced the line of dozens of family members who waited to receive their loved one.

    The return home of the bodies of five Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan has thrust this country into a period of mourning and reignited a debate about the purpose of the NATO mission and the costs of war Canada will bear.

    In May, Prime Minister Stephen Harper barely persuaded lawmakers in a 149-145 vote to approve an extension of Canada's mission in Afghanistan until 2009. Part of Harper's argument was that Canada, which has declined to send troops to Iraq, had national interests in the fight against the Taliban and its connections to international terrorism.

    The deaths of four Canadians in a battle with Taliban forces west of Kandahar on Sept. 3, combined with the death of another soldier Sept. 4 in a "friendly fire" incident involving U.S. jets the fifth friendly-fire death since 2002 has some questioning Canada's deployment of 2,300 troops to the NATO-led force of nearly 20,000.

    AFGHAN VIOLENCE: Suicide blasts soar in Afghanistan

    Canada has lost 32 troops and one diplomat in Afghanistan since 2002. At least 16 Canadian soldiers have died in the past three months as Canadians have joined British and Dutch forces to spearhead operations against Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan.

    Recent polls have shown the country split on the Afghan mission and flagging support for Harper's minority Conservative government in advance of national elections next year. A slim majority of Canadians, 52%, say Canadian troops should not be deployed in Afghanistan and should be brought home as soon as possible, an Ipsos-Reid Poll taken July 25-27 found.

    Joe Warmington, a Toronto Sun columnist who came to Trenton to watch the ceremony last Wednesday, said a reader tracked him down at his lakeside cottage earlier in the week to protest Warmington's support for the Afghan mission. "I've done this a long time," Warmington said. "To hear a knock on my cottage door and then find an angry reader is a first."

    For Canadians, used to participating in United Nations peacekeeping missions rather than the strenuous combat of Afghanistan, the number of casualties has been difficult to bear, says Jocelyn Coulon, a foreign affairs analyst at the University of Montreal. Of the 37 countries who have contributed to the NATO force, Canada has lost more troops than any other except Britain and the United States. Britain has lost 40 servicemembers; the United States, 272.

    The deployment in Afghanistan marks Canada's first true combat mission in decades. "We don't have the experience that the U.S. has in war," Coulon says. "Our policy abroad has been based on the model of the good Canadian peacekeepers who distribute candy and aid at some checkpoint in Cyprus."

    Houchang Hassan-Yari, an analyst at Canada's Royal Military College, says Harper's close association with President Bush's muscular foreign policy, combined with the rash of Canadian deaths in Afghanistan, has bolstered opposition to the mission. "Gradually, Canadians are being more vocal in their protests against the whole mission" Hassan-Yari says. "This is a major development."

    Two opposition leaders called last week for the mission to be reconsidered. Jack Layton, head of the New Democratic Party, said troops should be pulled out by February. He urged Harper to adopt a policy that does not "follow the United States into wars."

    Separatist Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe said Harper's foreign policy has strayed from Canada's "major values." Duceppe wants an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the issue.

    Harper's Tory Party is 30 seats short of a majority in the House of Commons. The Conservatives had hoped to increase support in Quebec next year. "This is the place that they have to have some seats if they want a majority government," Coulon says.

    Even Canadian military officials who strongly support the mission have complained that Canada has been unduly burdened in the anti-Taliban offensive. Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor said last week that the "loads aren't equal" in the new operation and that he would raise the issue at a NATO meeting in Slovenia on Sept. 28.

    Many Canadians still back the mission. At Wednesday's ceremony, about 50 people waved Canadian flags outside the gates of the air base.

    Waving the largest flag was Bob Belear, 56, of Belleville, Ontario. His son, Pvt. Mathew Belear, 23, is recovering at the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, after being wounded in Kandahar on Tuesday in a Taliban mortar attack.

    Belear said that he and his wife attend every ceremony in which Canadian war dead are returned home, but that this one was special, given his son's injury.

    "We want these soldiers' families to know that we support them and what their sons and daughters have done," Belear said. "To come here is an honor."

    Contributing: Wire reports
    *what do the Canadians on here think of this?*

  2. #2
    Bronze Member boots's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    Layton and Duceppe are right. We do not belong there to fight, our troops are just to small and underfunded and not trained properly.
    The day the Tory's are lose the next election and the Liberals regain control IMO will be best for Canada.

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