How I wish that the government wouldn’t hide behind our soldiers when facing criticism over the direction and leadership of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Their response politicizes the debate in an unconscionable manner.
If you are going to lead, then lead. Get used to the fact that that may mean answering some difficult questions from the public, and the opposition parties, from time to time.
The most recent example of this phenomenon comes courtesy of Stockwell Day in this weekend’s Globe & Mail:
“Mr. Day said yesterday that the opposition attacks had to stop because they were affecting Canadian officials in Afghanistan. ‘Stop maligning our corrections officers and stop maligning our troops’ Mr. Day said.”
The whole ‘criticizing the government is tantamount to not supporting our troops’ is not only appalling, it’s passé. Even President Bush doesn’t use this line anymore.
Let’s be clear. We aren’t criticizing Canadian soldiers or corrections officers when we express concern that the Afghan prisoners they hand over to local authorities may end up being tortured. These men on the ground are simply following orders (and may even assume that the correct safeguards are in place). We are however, being critical of the political leadership that oversees this mission and has a duty to uphold international (and Canadian) law.
I’m supportive of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. We have real, material national interests at stake in this conflict. My concern is that we do it right, even when that may not be the easiest course of action.