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Guy Fawkes - the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions

So this makes the decision to have a hasty vote on Afghanistan make a bit more sense - the Canadian military has been asked to lead the mission in Kabul beginning in 2008. Taking over command of course means expanding our troop numbers on the ground. So the vote tonight actually is not about extending the mission, it is about extending and expanding it; sending more troops for a longer period of time.

Well, I give Stephen Harper credit for sticking to the word of his promise to hold a debate if the mission parameters change with tonight's debate, but that is as far as I'll go.

He stuck to his word, he is having a vote, but he is not allowing any time to debate the issues surrounding the mission; issues which in my mind either doom the war to failure or at best limit it to an ephemeral success-in-name-only; the kind of pseudovictory the Bush administration is trying to manufacture with no success in Iraq right now.

In the past I worked in the software industry and we would never have committed to developing a product, to putting three or four programmers on something for six months, until it had been worked through at the decision-making level for a couple of weeks at the very least. And then through design discussions and market analysis… And here we’re talking about committing military troops, people that will kill and die for two years on a six-hour “debate”?

So we will have our "debate", six hours of tough-guy support-the-troops photo ops for the next election campaign, and then we will commit our sons and daughters to another two years in a mission with vaguely-defined goals, and Stephen Harper will be able to tick off the "let Parliament vote for war" box on his promise card. Technically, yes, this is a debate, but only technically.

And yes, there are some 40-watt bulbs out there that think that simply the act of having a vote fulfills Parliament's requirements and that the bluster from the Opposition is unwarranted. If people like this don't aknowledge in their hearts that this is partisan foolishness, then they simply don't understand what Parliament is for. And if they are right, if this is what Parliament is for, these empty-headed votes manufactured on an assembly line and stamped out in little easy-to-broadcast six-hour blocks, then Guy Fawkes would be a welcome visitor to Ottawa right about now, because buildings that aren't being used to their potential ought to come down to make room for parking lots or condos or something.

Yes, Stephen Harper stuck to his word - he is letting Parliament have a vote. However for those of us who actually thought that meant we were going to also have a reasonable debate on the topic, this is an eye-opener. I will indeed read Stephen Harper's words very carefully from this point forward, because he means what he says, but only that and nothing more.

I also remember him saying "you won't recognize Canada when I get through with it". And now I have an idea that he might really mean it.

But as I've said before, I am pleased with the precedent - we at least have to consult Parliament before ordering people to kill and die in our name. However, lets get to work and make Parliament mean something more than this tawdry pollitical gamesmanship.

As soon as the vote is completed, should it pass, I will compile a list of the brave MPs that voted to expand the Canadian involvement, that voted to "support our troops" by sending them into an unwinnable war to die. What should one do with such a list? Hmmm...

And in the end, if we "win" in Afghanistan, whatever that really means, I'll say sorry. I'll admit that I was wrong, (something that I would love the Liberal party to do tonight, but there's me with my head in the sky again!), but I don't think that's going to be necessary, because this "war" can't be won. It is a battle being fought against a sympton and not until its root causes, the disease to follow the metaphor, is dealt with, can it end. This is the debate that we should be having and are not, because, well, it might take more than six hours.

Possibly the best headline I've read in weeks. Well played.

The Liberal position on the Afghanistan vote is a sound one. Harper has taken a leaf from the Bush Book, inspired by Frank Luntz and ghost-written by Karl Rove, and tried to set a trap for the opposition parties. Harper is trying to divide the MPs into two camps of his own choosing: those "for" the troops (meaning those who will give Harper a blank cheque by voting for the extension for 2 years without any discussion or any qualifications), and those who against Harper and therefore against the troops.

This dog won't hunt. Canadians understand politicians who try to pull fast ones like that, and expect their MPs to watch out for them and for their nation and its troops.

Bush has bungled the Iraq war and is bungling Afghanistan, because there was and is too little planning to "win the peace".

We need a proper debate on what Afghan needs from Canada, so that we can decide what peacekeeping steps to take in addition to what peacemaking steps we should take.

What are our objectives? The leader of our country should spell that out. What must we do, in the short term and long term?

Harper asks for a blank cheque, and frames the discussion as being for or against the troops. The troops are better served by a country which knows what it is asking them to risk their lives for, and to die for if necessary. Let us not put them in jeopardy because we could not spare more than six hours to discuss why they should risk all.

Let us take the time to have a full and proper discussion. And let us postpone the vote until that takes place.

Harper is playing politics and the matter is too serious for that to happen.

Thanks, Graeme!

I agree with you 100%, as is pretty obvious from my post; but I have a question for you - what is the Liberal position? I honestly haven't seen it yet.

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