Site Administrator Of:

Supporter Of:


Stabbed in the front

Contrary to what some might think, I actually like Andrew Coyne as a writer/op-ed/journalist. He’s the only reason anyone should bother looking through the National Post in my opinion. He’s also not as “conservative” in some viewpoints as you might think. For instance, he supports MMP electoral reform, and he also holds constitutional and federalist positions that are very similar to what Pierre Trudeau articulated. I also got to meet and chat with him at the Liberal Party convention in December ; anyone who praises the Progressive Blogger site as a good setup is a good guy in my books 😉

However, I have to take issue with this column he wrote on Afghanistan. It’s not the fault of the opposition parties who are supposedly undercutting the troops, which Harper claims, and it appears Andrew supports. It’s the Canadian people who do not support this mission being extended as it stands. A recent Decima research poll said this:

Only one in four (26%) Canadians feel that Canada should be willing to extend our mission in Afghanistan beyond February 2009 if that is necessary to complete our goals there. Fully 67% felt that we need to do our best to accomplish progress in Afghanistan but that we must stick to that deadline and get our troops out. This is the majority view in every region, among men and women, urban and rural voters, all income and every age group.

Andrew conveniently leaves that part out of his argument when he attacks the opposition parties. I’m sure they’d all love to take credit for swaying the Canadian public to their viewpoints, but I get the feeling the Canadian public has come to this majority view about Afghanistan and troop withdrawal all on their own, or ironically enough, from reading the very media that Coyne works; seeing another Don Cherry tribute on HNIC during Coaches Corner to another dead Canadian soldier and showing their picture(s) probably has done more to get people to think this mission needs to end in its current format soon then anything the opposition parties have done.

There is no one stabbing Canadian solders or the Afghanistan mission in the back. The Canadian public are making it quite well known that this mission in their mind is done in its current format. Deceivin’ Stephen is just trying to use the mission as another partisan attack on his opposition, something else Andrew seems to have overlooked.


7 comments to Stabbed in the front

  • Ron - Muskoka

    I also like Coyne and agree he is wrong this time.  For a good insight into our mess in Afghanistan check out this article:

  • ALW


    You could arguably claim that Harper's move to the center isn't "genuine" in the sense that he doesn't actually believe in the policies he is advancing, but I don't know how you could claim his government is "right wing".  What is so radical and extreme about it?

  • foottothefire

    It's good to know a solid majority of Canadians feel as I do that it pays to be a tad cynical when a UN mission becomes a US led NATO mission, which then morph's into something other than the original mission.  Sure as hell, that's the Afghanisnam that  Stevie Harper bought into when he dashed off to Washington to 'cement' HIS friendship.
    Steve was so enamored with his new not-powers of a minority PM that he failed to  notice the "leader of the free world" became just the crumbling tiniest bit distracted when he declared oil in Iraq a 'freebie' and at the same time downgraded the importance of Afghanisnam and 9/11.  
    So should we feel guilt about leaving?  Absolutely, but maybe this will cure Canadians of a starry eyed belief that overly packaged America is as advertised and demand any future mission we buy in on be spelled out, so in the event the USA has another prick like George at the helm who splits the mission, that's the point we head home.  Hell, we don't have to feel that bad, imagine how stupid Britains must feel about now.  As for the Afghan's……why don't we get America to pray for them. 

  • Gee Bill.. you’re making some sweeping statements of what you think Canadians agree or dont agree with. You got any proof to back your sweeping claims up?? I’d say most of what you claim is the exact opposite, which is why conservatives hate polls, because it shows they’re offside with the majority of Canadian public opinion.

    By the way, I? never said Andrew wasn’t one of Canada’s best journalists.. but we’re still allowed to disagree with him, if we think he’s out to lunch.

    As for Harper moving to the centre? Yeesh.. keep drinking the Conservative Kool-Aid. Bill.
    At best, he is doing moves to try and get voters fooled into thinking he’s moving there. So far to their credit, voters arent buying it.

  • billg

    I've always been amazed at polls and the way they are used.  If you took a poll today most Canadians would disagree with same sex marriage, the last one Decima did was close to 60% disagreed.  Polls would not be favourable for abortion, capitol punishment, bilingualism and, Quebec would have been asked to leave years ago.   Andrew Coyne is one of Canada's best journalists, and, has written many piece's critical of Mr Harper and the Conservatives, yesterday's column nailed it.   Every day Mr Harper gives the Liberals and the NDP a reason to dislike his views, every day the vast difference between the Liberals and Conservatives gets more obvious, which, should make it easier for voters to decide.  I  believe it angers bloggers because, that middle ground known for years as Liberal territory is being taken over as Mr Dion moves more left.   At least Andrew Coyne thinks so.

  • ALW

    LKO I agree with pretty much all you have to say.  And I would assume Coyne (like myself) would be inclined to support extension of the mission, popularity notwithstanding.  The big question, as you say, is whether this is politically possible.

    I believe it is, for the same reason I take most single-issue opinion polls with a grain of salt, whether they
    are favourable or unfavourable to my own view on an issue: because opinion polls only measure the bare minimal commitment a person can attach to an issue, namely, answering a question.   People may be in favour or opposed to all sorts of things in the abstract, but when they are confronted with an actual tangible consequence, the depth of their commitment to that opinion is tested.  This is why, for example, there might be people who want us to meet Kyoto targets, but would still vote Conservative, even though Harper says we can't/won't meet them: because while they might "want" to meet Kyoto targets, it isn't their #1 issue, whereas something else in the Tory platform might be.

    So it is with Afghanistan.  I think Canadians are generally squirmish about their soldiers getting killed.  And why shouldn't they be?  What right-minded person isn't upset by photos and stories of their young compatriots getting killed abroad, fighting a menacing enemy?   The instinct should certainly be to get them out of there, to spare any more deaths.  But I also believe that if it can be demonstrated that the ultimate price being paid by those soldiers is bearing fruit, it may change their mind on the matter: particularly so during an election campaign.  And as we all know, the only poll that counts are the ones where you mark an X on the paper and put in the box.

  • Lord Kitchener's Own

    It's an interesting point.  It seems pretty obvious that the opposition parties are following the citizenry on this, and not the other way around.  I support the mission (I'd say I'm "undecided" on an extension… who knows what will be going on in 2009) but I certainly know that public opinion is generally as you describe Scott.

    Somewhat in Mr. Coyne's defence, I don't see anything particularly deliberate in Andrew's neglecting to point out that the opposition parties have the support of the country on this.  For one thing, that is somewhat unrelated to the point of his column (which was on whether Harper's statement that he would look for "consensus" effectively means he's given up on any plan to extend the mission, or that such a plan is now impossible).  I'd also guess that Coyne genuinely believes that this is one of those issues where, to a certain extent, "the public be damned".  Not that it should be put that harshly (and I didn't mean to put words in Coyne's mouth) but I'd imagine many (not just Coyne) see this as one of those issues where popular opinion shouldn't really enter in to the discussion too much, and so he concentrates on the positions of political parties, and which plans seem the most coherent and best for the nation (and world)  and generally ignores opinion pollls and such.  So, I think it's a bit harsh to say that Coyne "conveniently leave that part out" (which suggests a deliberate and concious act) given that the column isn't really about which side of the argument has public support (which is pretty obvious… perhaps even so obvious that THAT is why Coyne leaves it out). 

    So, on the column, I'd say the critique is a bit harsh.  On the overall issue though your point is well taken, and it is surprising (and concerning) that there isn't a greater focus in the media on the position of Canadians (as you rightly point out ALL Canadaians, coast to coast, male, female, urban, rural, young and old)  on the option of extending the mission.  Conservatives are the ONLY group in the poll not CLEARLY against an extension of the mission, and even there it's just a 48/47 split.  The only other group that even comes anywehere close is those making over $100,000, and 58% of them want the troops out in 2009.  58%, and that's the SMALLEST majority in the poll.

    When every demographic breakdown imaginable is overwhelmingly in favour of a 2009 end to the mission, can the mission ever be extended?  Politically at least, one would think not.  There's not much upside to taking a position opposed by majorities of every demographic imaginable except the narrow demographic of "people who already support you".  Not if you want to win MORE seats in an election.  It'll be a fascinating debate in the days ahead.

unique visitors since the change to this site domain on Nov 12, 2008.