Friday, February 23, 2007

Keep the 'mo

It was a raucous week in the House of Commons, with the Liberal opposition taking it to angry Steve Harper over his attempt to smear a Liberal MP and the party as a whole with alleged links to terrorism and his subsequent refusal to apologize. It was good to see us on the offensive. I think we succeeded in showing Harper to be an arrogant bully, and I think this will have a lasting impact. Now, though, it's time to move on, but keep the momentum going.

Harper isn't going to apologize, despite it being both morally and politically the right thing to do. Which is a shame, because it's such a rarity for those two considerations to coincide. While we can't let people forget his arrogance, particularly as with his past behavior it builds a narrative, the thing to do now is stay on the offensive, but move the offensive to other areas. The point has been made.

I hope the powers that be will spend the weekend coming-up with such a new offensive attack strategy for Monday's QP but here's a promising hint of one from CP: Afghanistan. In a major speech this week (full speech text here), Stephane Dion outlined a Liberal policy position on Afghanistan that effectively unites the hawks and doves of the Liberal caucus and addresses the concerns of many Canadians. It includes honouring the extension of the mission to 2009 but making clear to NATO that at that point we'll have done our duty, and it will be up to other NATO countries to pull their weight. Also, dealing with the problem of the opium trade and more emphasis on development.

Now the next step is to put the pressure on Harper. Now that he has his taxpayer funded public relations strategy, where's is his exit strategy?

To preemptively address the expected comments from my Con friends alleging flip-flops because this was originally a Liberal mission let me say two things.

One, Steve flip-flops so much he looks constantly dizzy, so that's rich.

But two, and more seriously, yes, it was a Liberal government that began this mission. And we support the mission. But we didn't create this as a mission that would last forever. And it's already been extended once. We support the mission, but it's still appropriate to regularly re-examine it to see if it's working, or if changes need to be made. And it's very appropriate to say that by 2009 we'll have done our share, and it will be time for other countries to contribute.

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bigcitylib said...

2009 as the firm pullout date (or at least the date for a major change of role). Not sure how you can argue with that. we would have done way more than our bit by that time.

Anonymous said...

Dawn Black of the NDP has found some documents that indicate that the Harper government plan to go beyond 2009 and I think that's why Dion is making it clear the position of the Liberals.

Face it, Harper and O'Connor can't be trusted. You don't know that Harper wouldn't pull another hasty "extension" vote.

Bob The Red said...

Setting a 2009 deadline is a great strategic move. The longer Canadians are in Afghanistan, the more chance of casualties and the more costly it becomes. Both are factors with which the Tories will be saddled (See Bush, George and Iraq) and both are factors the Canadian public will grow tired of, especially with no sign of a meaningful conclusion.
By setting an end date, the Liberals have provided a clear option.

ottlib said...

Yes, Stephane Dion has began the process of developing an exit strategy, something conspicuously absent from Mr. Harper.

rockfish said...

Don't worry, two focus groups later, a month of planning the presentation, a plane trip to some picturesque Canadian dropback along with 2-3 potted plants, and Harpor will reveal that HIS exit strategy is... what that Dion guy said.