Canada's Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier today rejected accusations he has publicly contradicted the Prime Minister regarding the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
The general's spokeswoman, Holly Apostoliuk, said the General is flying back from Afghanistan and plans to issue a full statement later today that will clarify remarks that have generated a political storm in Ottawa.
Maj. Apostoliuk insisted the Throne Speech reference and the General's comments were about two different things.
“It's apples and oranges,” she said, promising the differences would be explained later through a statement from the General. “From Gen. Hillier's perspective, there is no difference of opinion.”
Actually, it's apples and apples, but I'm sure Hillier will offer semantics to cover for Harper's misleading of Canadians. It will be interesting to listen to Hillier perform verbal gymnastics to save the government's credibility.
Ignatieff, pretty much sums up the situation:
“You can't go out in a throne speech and, and say 2011 and then have your Chief of the Defence Staff saying well actually, it's 2017,” he said. “And then third, to make it worse, let's appoint a panel to look at a third set of options and then in the House of Commons, to hide behind that panel when you don't know what the heck you're doing. I mean this creates, this creates a very bad impression of incompetence and mismanagement. And the troops deserve better.”
Canadians deserve better, just the facts please.
Hillier made appearances on both the CBC and CTV, straight off the plane, which suggests a co-ordinated damage control operation. Hillier swallowed hard several times, particularly when there was mention of the earlier PMO criticism of his trip. Hillier spun, by trying to isolate Kandahar, as though a seperate entity from the Afghan army, but he still supported his earlier comments. It was all very amusing, watching a man try to reconcile reality with political considerations.
If Liberals think Hillier is correct that it will take ten years, then are the Liberals pledging their support to stay in Afghanistan for another ten years?
Hillier - 2017
Stevie - 2011
Stephanie - 2009
The biggest contradiction in positions is that between Hillier and Stephanie (well, actually it would be Jackie who says they should pull out immediately.)
Get your superficial facts straight. The Liberal position wants to end the combat portion of the mission, as part of a natural NATO rotation. The Liberal position doesn't say we abandon Afghanistan, in fact it allows for a training component, as well as a re-construction one. Simpler Liberal position, against running around the countryside chasing ghosts for eternity, with no chance of success.
What Hillier said earlier:
Gen. Rick Hillier, speaking at the end of a three-day visit to Kandahar, told reporters it will take "10 years or so" to build a national army that can defend the government against insurgents and potential external threats.
What Hillier said today:
"We're on exactly the same sheet of paper. I've got my direction from the government of Canada, from the prime minister, from our minister. It's very clear, and we're getting on with our military mission," Hillier said.
"What I talked about was building the total Afghan national army, which is not our responsibility. Our piece is in Kandahar province itself," Hillier said.
"Our piece in Kandahar province, the speech from the throne was pretty clear on what the government is looking towards. I believe that's eminently doable."
"We think it's very achievable in the next two to three years to be able to bring that brigade of three Afghan battalions to an operational capability," he said.
Interesting you use Hillier referencing the throne speech. Harper never mentioned Kandahar, he spoke about Afghanistan, the Afghan army.
Hillier's position is exactly the same as the Liberal long-term position (I think) and the CPC position long-term position.
We _will_ be in Afghanistan (Kandahar or Kabul, or another province) past 2009. We will be training the Army.
The difference is whether we are in a predominantly combat mission or primarily focused on training.
I fail to see the issue here.
Maybe Harper has now got himself into a pickle. In the spring when Harper wanted to go to an election but the polls didn't favour him all that much and when he was trying to pump up Quebec votes he more or less let Canadians believe it would be 2009 by vote of parliament - another LIE.
Now, Harper is feeling his tostesterone we're getting closer to the truth - he wants it extended in a big way.
He tries to say Dion has flip-flopped which is another lie. Dion has always said "rotation" - end our combat mission in 2009 as committed and then do other work - that is not a flip-flop.
Ya, Layton says pull out now - funny, Layton says Canada should honour it's committment to Kyoto, but not Afghanistan - what is this - selective committments? So, Layton is the hypocrite here. He screamed and hollered about not honouring our committments - when it was about Kyoto.
I agree with Lance. The only reason that "damage control" has to be undertaken is that opponents of the mission are going line by line to try and find "evidence" for a combat mission post 2009 and are now trumping this up.
Let's not forget that Afghanistan is not a country like Iraq which has previously known stability and has lost it - it's hard to demonstrate and instill stability and rule of law in a people who have known one regime after another. Accordingly I would expect Canada to be giving significant support to Kabul for at least a decade if not more. The question is what form that support takes.
Clearly the opposition are choosing to read any support as frontline combat, which is possible of course but which would have by then caused significant overstretch in the Canadian Forces for whom a 2,500 deployment is a huge logistical strain.
In the six years since the invasion/takeover/whatever, the ANA has been built up to a point where the people are starting to trust it, the ANP are not partially because of the venality of their civilian government in withholding their pay, something which the CF are solving by paying it themselves.
The ANA and ANP will need support from Canada for many years if it is not to dissolve back into mush when the OMLT teams go home with the combat forces, even when the nominal final manning numbers are achieved.
Canada should be bringing ANA officers to CF and RCMP training schools in Canada to build up a corps of modern thinking and introduce a different perspective to CF and RCMP officers-in-training. If we're not doing this for Haiti at the moment, we should be.
"I agree with Lance. The only reason that "damage control" has to be undertaken is that opponents of the mission are going line by line to try and find "evidence" for a combat mission post 2009 and are now trumping this up."
If there is no disagreement between the two parties, then why no "consensus"? And, then who exactly is posturing, because it seems to be the Cons are the one trotting out the Liberals supposed "flip flops:. Harper has mellowed the language, after spending tax dollars to road test phrasing and framing. We still have a 10/1 expenditure on the military side of the mission, so what you both offer for the future hasn't translated to the reality.
In my mind, it is obvious, what Harper is saying is political, what Hillier is saying is practical. Maybe you guys should go back to the spring, compare what Harper was saying then, and what the Liberals were saying then. You will note which party has altered the message, offered differing viewpoints.
The only saving grace in this scenario is that Harper didn't fool the electorate 5 years earlier, hence we'd be arguing about what his 2-faced responses are on Canadian troops being removed from Iraq.
You CONs can wallpaper over his statements as long as you want. I don't think there's enough glue to keep up with the spinning.
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