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Harper castles

I have been trying to formulate my thoughts on last night's "vote" all day long and dammit, they just won't organize themselves into words. I'm not emotional or anything, I knew it was going to go down as it did, it's just that I haven't had the time to enumerate all of the disappointments and opportunities it represents. I'm glad that there was at least some discussion of the mission, but unfortunately Harper's statement that he was going to lift his leg on a "no" vote should that happen dashed my hopes that this would form a useful and potentially important precedent for future military entanglements our government might opt to wander into, which I had written about like a doe-eyed 13 year-old earlier this week. I blush just to think...

So what have we derived from this little manouver?
  • The Canadian military is stuck in Afghanistan until 2009
  • We will very likely have to expand our contingent, as it is likely that we will taking over leadership of the mission in a year. How many troops are we talking about? 3000? When is it likely we'll find out?
  • The vote, the Canadian military, the Parliament, was used last night in an effort to split the Liberal party, that much is obvious. That doesn't shock or upset me - it's happened before and it's just part of the game. The NDP and Bloc voted as I and many others had thought, had hoped they would, but that left the Liberals stranded on a rock largely of their own making. They opted to not enforce caucus solidarity sensibly, and the result split a couple of dozen MP's on the government side, and another dozen more that either abstained, or shamelessy didn't show up. For what it's worth, the vote was a hell of a lot closer than I thought it would be. How does it effect the Liberal leadership race now that two of the candidates - Scott Brison and Michael Ignatieff, have voted with the government on this?
  • The Conservatives have now firmly and absolutely hitched it's fate to that of the Canadian military. There is no going back now for them; they no longer can call it a "Liberal mission", because from now on, it's all theirs. However it turns, it's theirs.
  • I harken back to Dan saying some months ago that the Tories are going to do everything they can to split the Liberals down the centre and that they would be willing to accept 30 or 40 seats swing to the NDP because it would result in more than that swinging over to them.

Go and read James Travers editorial at the Star today. I have nothing more than "what he said".

I am not sure that the BLOC or NDP would have voted differently. Politically, both parties were unwilling to support an 'unknown' mission. The liberals, well I thought they played politics. If they did not like the timeline and the lack of critical awareness of the change in mission, they should have voted against it. To me, it would have forced Harper's hand. But perhaps the liberals were politically astute afterall. Harper now owns this mission, as he won the vote by a slim margin. What goes wrong, he will wear. Just like Bush and Blair wear Iraq. And Travers is right: the troops become 'deadly' pawns. In this regard, the BLoc and NDP must push for mission change or more people will die in Afghanistan, especially if Bush bombs Iran. Holy war comes to mind here.

Jan,

I think your evaluation is pretty much right on.

This vote was one of the more interesting purely political events I've seen in Canada in a while. In my eyes, Harper specifically tried to tear the Liberal party in half over this, which he might well have done had Graham tried to enforce caucus solidarity. By letting MPs vote with their conscience (snicker) he defused the situation of the internal political damage, outside of the leadership race.

The NDP was certain to vote as they did, but the BQ were in a really interesting position and I think the reason that they didn't announce their position until the vote was called reflected that. The war is very unpopular in Quebec, but the Tories are growing in popularity quickly and there might be a concern for the BQ that the popularity of the war effort could be tied to that.

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