Wednesday, December 13, 2006

On why supporting the Conservatives is the right thing to do

I like these man-bites-dog headlines. Next, an analysis of why the Yankees are the most lovable team in baseball.

As perhaps you've heard, Gilles Duceppe, the Dick Dastardly of Canadian politics (evil and incompetent) is intimating that he might move a motion of non-confidence in the government if the military mission in Afghanistan doesn't change in a manner that hasn't exactly been made clear. On the one hand, Duceppe says that "We've never said there is no role for the military" in Afghanistan. On the other, he's demanding that the mission be "rebalanced" for more of an emphasis on humanitarian aid. What this rebalancing would look like in practice is anybody's guess.

In any event, Stephen Harper yesterday came out and blasted Duceppe for "playing games on the backs of our soldiers." Duceppe responded by saying that "if it comes to a question of confidence, we won't be scared of having an election on that." Jack Layton and the NDP have already said that they'd support a non-confidence motion on Afghanistan. So everything comes down to the Liberals.

I think the right thing to do for the Liberal party, both from a policy and from a political standpoint is to support the government on Afghanistan, certainly on a non-confidence motion. First, the policy. I cannot think of anything that would make us look like more of a fairweather ally than to bring down a government over Afghanistan. I also cannot imagine that it's good for troop morale to have an incredibly muddled debate over whether we should have troops in Afghanistan or no troops or some kind of rebalancing or what. And finally, there are implications beyond foreign and defence policy: the whole thing has the potential to become a national unity problem.

It's no secret that the Afghanistan mission is less popular in Quebec than it is in the rest of Canada, and the coincidence of timing where Gilles Duceppe becomes a champion of "rebalancing" just as the VanDoos prepare to go to Afghanistan is a little too convenient to swallow. Duceppe, I think, is trying to pit Quebec against the rest of Canada in a replay of the Conscription Crisis. I don't know that he'll succeed in getting people upset at one another, but I think it's what he's trying to do.

On to the politics. The Liberals would look really, really stupid (not to mention weak) if they were to bring down a Tory government over a policy they initiated. they would also, I think, look bad for climbing into bed with the separatists-it wasn't for nothing that Harper insisted Layton, rather than Duceppe, be his consponsor on the motion that brought down Martin. If they're really itching to dump Harper rightnow, I'm sure they can figure something out that will get NDP and Bloc support without making the country a laughingstock on the international stage.


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