Monday, November 22, 2010

The Right Decision

It would appear the Liberals are moving towards the only reasonable option, a full debate on an Afghanistan mission extension:
Ignatieff open to vote on Afghan training work

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 had a discussion with a very prominent and passionate supporter of extending the Afghan mission. I won't reveal that person's name, but there was some concern that people weren't being fair to Rae's courageous decision. My argument, the process, the lack of full debate before our representative body is siphoning off many people who would otherwise be supportive of this type of mission extension. The problem- this notion of bypassing Parliament has created other issues surrounding our democracy, the idea of backroom deals, a bunch of self inflicted nonsense that doesn't need to be part of a serious debate. Remove the irritant, and one can expect more support for the idea. I would argue many Liberals expressing concern aren't undermining the idea of extension, just the process by which it is coming to be, a very big distinction.

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.


WhigWag said...

arggh... main point taken, but: I wouldn't want you to moderate the debate.

The way you try to circumscribe its frame of reference is not only condescending & insulting (Our view characterized as subjective: "No matter your personal view of how we got there, whether we should have gone in the first place"; Yours, objective: "the fact remains we did go") but it also unjustly rules certain lines of argument (like, "Don't throw good money after bad" or, "The def. of insanity is doing the same thing & expecting a diff. result..) and evidence as out of order... kinda like what the military tribunal of Khadr did, or the way Harper & Johnson framed the Mulroney / Schreiber inquiry.

Auditioning for the OLO / PMO, are we?

Steve V said...

"Auditioning for the OLO / PMO, are we?"

Why of course that's true, that's why my last post mocked the Afghan detainee deal and the one's prior took issue with Rae and this deal. Good call dim bulb, good call indeed.

Hey, if you want to disagree with my position have at it, but what you left here requires a plastic bag for disposal.

Steve V said...

Looks like we could have a vote next week:

WhigWag said...

well, sorry if I didn't scurry through all your archives to see your full views (and my failure to do so hardly makes me 'a dim bulb'): I just judged this one on its merits, and found it wanting, for trying to make it a foregone conclusion that it definitely IS right to stay & do training.

If you don't want to get slagged as an apologist, then don't get your interlocuters' backs up by saying things like it's "intellectually immature" to disagree with you about it being wrong to pull out altogether.

DL said...

So, will Ignatieff whip the Liberal caucus to vote to extend the mission? that could be very messy. Or will he and Rae and a handful of other "hawks" vote with the Tories while the other 80% of his caucus voted with the BQ and NDP created a very damaging spectacle of the Liberal leader and foreign affairs critic being totally out of step with their caucus. damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Steve V said...


Even weaker, didn't think was possible. Congrats. How about don't make sweeping judgements, when you don't have a clue? Give that a shot maybe lightweight. Just because I agree doesn't make me an apologist, you simplistic, kneejerk boreasaurus.

Steve V said...


Now that we are having a vote, some that were offside will come on board. If you were paying attention, the criticism wasn't so much about training, as much as it was about process. Training has been on the Liberal agenda for months, so this vote will pass easily.

It is somewhat messy regardless, much better to take the legitimacy element off the table and just have a vote. The Canadian public isn't going to punish the Liberals if have differing views, that's accepted big tent practice.

900ft Jesus said...

"Now that we are having a vote, some that were offside will come on board."

I think so. The secrecy, what comes across as arrogance by denying debate, treating Canadians as though they wouldn't understand, denying our elected reps a chance to debate...this turned a lot of people away.

If the Libs really believe they have good reason to extend the mission, then tell us those reasons - the real ones, and convince us.

Otherwise, by avoiding debate, the decision is suspect in our minds, and we have the added frustration of a party that rules behind closed doors with a heavy hand, seeking to silence dissent.

Steve V said...

Part of the caucus reaction was the way this deal came to be, even the rat leaks confirm this as fact. There is no question, a humanitarian mission with a training component will fly with caucus. Not exactly a radical position really...

Greg said...

I won't even give Iggy a hard time on this one -- unless he suppresses the anti-extension vote. That will tick me off. The vote is a forgone conclusion anyway, so let it play out.

Steve V said...

It is a foregone conclusion, so there's no reason not to support IMHO.

Holly Stick said...

"...a humanitarian mission with a training component..."

Why would anyone believe this is what we would be getting into? What lies will the Conservatives and Liberals agree on when the trainers start geting killed? Will they just refuse to count them anymore?