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.