Stephane Dion's position on Afghanistan has been well known for a year. In spite of that, right wing journalists have been using the Con line they were fed. That is, that they cannot figure out where he stands. All that really said to me is that the Conservatives know that their lines will be faithfully reported by those journalists and that the journalists are either unwilling or unable to think for themselves.
What has been written about Dion's position and what the Con's have repeated ad nauseum, is that he doesn't have one or that he keeps changing his mind, he's flip flopping, etc etc. Of course that wasn't true so now they have the reverse spin going on. He should change his position, he should compromise his position, etc, etc. Same position, being spun 2 ways. His position is either too weak for your liking, to the degree that you can't even discern it or it's too strong and should change. Guess what? You can't have it both ways!
Most recently we have Peter Van Loan popping up on every media platform we have in Canada, (a disconcerting prospect in itself) shaking his pudgy fist and threatening Dion to compromise. Sigh. He calls him a weak leader because he doesn't take a stance and when Dion makes clear that he has, Van Loan continues to calls his leadership into question.
Confused yet? Don't be, the bottom line is that the Con's want an election at any cost and they will use any means to achieve one, even if it means turning your logic inside out. They need an issue that they can get behind you see, rather than being on the defensive constantly. They appear to have realised that the agenda isn't theirs when the House is sitting, which is alarming when you think of it. Part of the problem of course is that they seem to be out of ideas, but they'd rather blame the Lib's than face that reality. So Afghanistan joins the list of issues that we may go to the polls on. Last count would include idle juvenile threats to the Senate, the Budget (fair game of course), and now Afghanistan.
Here's the thing though. I don't think it's a good idea to go to the polls on Afghanistan. Not for partisan reasons and not for fear of losing on the issue (indeed more Canadians favour Dion's position to date). No, the reason I think it's a bad idea is because fighting an election about a war while we have soldiers in the field feels wrong to me. No matter what you feel about this mission, (and in it's current configuration I'm no supporter), to add campaigning to the incredibly complex issues that affect a soldier's fate everyday seems beyond unseemly, indeed it seems crass.
Add to that the down and dirty partisanship that Van Loan and company put out there, while in the same breathe say it shouldn't be a partisan issue, it's better argued in the HoC, imo. If you've missed some of Van Loan's comments, here's a couple uttered just this week.
Van Loan insisted that Canada’s controversial mission should not be a partisan political issue.
Then he went on to say:
You can't have your soldiers in a dangerous part of the country tie their hands behind their backs and tell them they can't shoot back at the other guys until their buddy just got killed beside them," he said. "They have to wait until that grenade lands under their LAV and kills them before they start fighting back. That is not fair to our troops. If you are going to have them in the field, you have to give them the ability to do their jobs."
An utter and ugly distortion, but illustrative of how he will use our troops as his pawns during a campaign.
Then in the House on Friday:
Government House Leader Peter Van Loan accused the Liberals of sympathizing with the Taliban when he was asked about the policy of Canadian soldiers transferring captured prisoners into Afghan hands.
"What we will not do is what the agent for the Taliban intelligence agency wants us to do over here, which is release to them information on detailed operations in the field."
I don't for a minute think that things would get better during an election. That kind of rhetoric seems to be in their DNA, or at least that seems true for some of them, including their dear leader.
What Con's have put forward has room for ammendments. From what I'm reading and hearing, the Lib's will come forward with some next week. It is my hope that they will be accepted and the stand off will end.
What might those ammendments look like? Well that of course is for people much smarter than me, but I would like to seem more detail re' accountability and reporting, some change of strategy, planning and measurements of effectiveness and importantly some sort of Pashtun strategy.
I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Update: MacKay is on the attack too:
“Let's be frank: Development and security go hand in hand,” he told the audience.
“To suggest, as some have, that we can do one without the other is nothing short of pure folly, and in fact it's dangerous.”
Dion has always included security in his comments and he has also said that this too is dangerous work. The continued attacks and the foolish desire to link the NDP and Lib's on the Con's part, may indeed backfire. Indeed, there may be a way to work this out.
Hmmm, this is going to lead to another me thinks. What's really going on in Afghanistan? What are we being fed? What are the motives? Sunday afternoon musings perhaps, trying to sort out the nonsense on all sides.