In October 2001, one month after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Canada deployed a naval task force to the Persian Gulf. Ever since then, Canada has played a key role in fighting the Taliban in the war torn country of Afghanistan. In July of last year Canadian forces took a major leadership role in the southern part of the country. The NATO-led operation in this region included 2,200 Canadians deployed around Kandahar. In May 2006, the Conservative government led the House of Commons in extending Canada’s role in the country for two more years; this decision is still met with some opposition.
The opposition comes from those who would have Canadians support our troops, but not the mission. This objection to Canada’s foreign mission is to say that what we are doing in Afghanistan doesn’t matter. After years of Taliban rule and oppression of the Afghan people, they are finally able to live their lives without fear or persecution. Our men and women in the field are contributing to the development of an Afghanistan with infrastructure and stability.
Unfortunately, along the way towards the goal we set out in 2001, there have been casualties. Even today as our forces fight the Taliban in their last stronghold, these continue. This, however, does not change the legitimacy or the value of the mission. The commitment made by the Liberal government to the people of Afghanistan was not to turn and run when a certain amount of committed, young Canadians died. These Canadians who are risking their lives are doing so for something they believe in. They are making a real, visible difference and they know that they are there for the right reasons. The important thing to remember when you are considering protesting our place in the Middle East is that this mission is not about cozying up to the United States; it is about liberating a people.
We have a responsibility to be a world leader in fighting the evils brought by oppression of the innocent. There is a whole world filled with these evils. Right now we are fighting in Afghanistan, and proving to be committed not for ourselves and our personal interests, but for a better world for everyone.
As I write this opinion piece I take comfort in the fact that there is currently an all-party contingent in Afghanistan witnessing the re-construction process and just how much the things our troops are doing matter. There can be little legitimate opposition to our role on the world stage, as not an enforcer of our own culture and values but as a liberator. We must continue to contribute where we care. I am glad to say that I care and I am proud to know that there are men and women over there, flying our flag who also care.
I encourage those who oppose our current place in the world and in the Middle East to abandon their attempts to transform public opinion about this mission. Even when times get tough, we need to be strong and united, for when the insurgents in Afghanistan break our spirits, our resolve and our commitment win. Even if I have to go to the nearest recruiter and sign myself up, I cannot let them win, and I hope you won’t either. I want to thank our troops for their bravery, our Conservative government for their commitment and you, the Canadian public, for your concern. Please wear red every Friday to show your support for our troops. Thank you.