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Layton making overtures to Dion on Afghanistan position.

Well now, this is an interesting turn of events. Rather then bash the Liberals over their Afghanistan position, Jack Layton and the NDP have decided diplomacy is the better way to go, and are making overtures to Dion and appealing to him to support their opposition to not extend the Afghanistan mission:

NDP Leader Jack Layton made a personal appeal to the federal Liberals on Wednesday, urging them to accept his proposal to put an end to Canada’s military combat mission in Afghanistan. Layton spoke briefly to Liberal Leader Stephane Dion outside the Commons to convince him not to support Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s efforts to extend the mission beyond its current deadline of 2009. “Just as Mr. Harper has extended a hand to Mr. Dion for his approach, so too am I extending a hand to Mr. Dion to embrace our approach,” Layton (said) during a speech the University of Ottawa on Wednesday evening. “Mr. Dion has some decisions to make and I look forward to a continued dialogue over the coming days and weeks.” An NDP official described the meeting as a cordial exchange in which the two leaders agreed to continue their dialogue in the future.

Dion and the Liberals will probably never agree to Layton and the NDP’s position on “Canadian troops out of Afghanistan now” stance. That being said, I would assert that Dion’s views on the mission are a lot closer to Layton’s then they are to Stephen Harper (or Harper’s proxy guy John Manley). In light of what I just highlighted in my previous blogpost about Dion flatly stating there was no change in the Liberal position about removing Cdn troops from a combat role once 2009 rolls around, I believe there is room there for the 2 parties to agree that THIS extension is cause for common ground to reject both the Conservatives stance as well as the Manley report.

My kudos to Layton and the NDP for looking at what Harper was doing in trying to publicly appeal to Dion and to do the same thing. It goes without saying I am one of those who support the end of the mission as it currently stands once 2009 rolls around, and if the NDP and the Liberals can make common ground here in rejecting a Harper/Conservative extension, even though they disagree on the exact date of the troops withdrawal, I’m all for it.

(H/T to Mushroom for finding this)


9 comments to Layton making overtures to Dion on Afghanistan position.

  • Yeah, Scott and Lizzie’s been tellin’ anyone who’ll listen that an ideal electoral outcome would be a Liberal minority with a smattering of Green MP’s. Endorsements are a two way street and there’s been ample traffic both ways on the May-Dion highway.

    My convictions on war and on the futility of this mission do not waver when the Liberal leader says nice things about Elizabeth May. I’m a true blue GPC supporter and I appreciate any help M. Dion can provide. But I won’t give Dion a free ride on this vital international issue. The wrongheadedness of the mission is way more serious and important than political endorsements. When Dion admits the blunder of Canada getting involved in Afghanistan in the first place, I’ll be impressed with his leadership. We can’t make Dion a more authentic leader. He’ll do that himself.


  • mushroom

    Update after yesterday’s caucus meeting, with quotes from the Grits Nova Scotia caucus

    It’s a wait and see approach.  Grits are willing to stay in Afghanistan on a non-combat mission as long as Layton accepts it.  At the same time, Harper needs to ensure that it is not an indefinite stay as Keith Martin pointed out on the Ivison article.
    JimBobby, I expect kinder words from you today.  I understand your opposition to the Afghan mission.  But when our former PM gave Lizzie a nice endorsement, you should work together to make Stephane Dion a more authentic leader. The link is here.


  • Whooee! Yer right, Scott. There’s no deal yet. My problem with any Lib-Con deal i sthat I don’t agree with either party’s policy. Afghanistan is simply not worth another Canadian life. We’ve tried. We’ve done our share but progress is not being made. Opium production is up. Insurgent activity is up. Canadian death rate is up. School attendance is down. Karzai’s been openly trying to recruit Taliban into the government.

    Now, Manley wants us to hang in there until the Americans remember Afghanistan exists and sends in massive air power to level wedding parties, kill allies and win hearts and minds. Anything that keeps us in this war is wrong. We’re there for the wrong reasons. Karzai’s warlords don’t deserve Canadian blood. Islamic courts that impose the death penalty on journalists for humiliating Islam do not deserve Canadian blood.

    Anyone who thinks 1000 troops and a coupla helicopters is going to turn the tide better go back and read up on Vietnam.

    "Lyndon Johnson told the nation,
    Have no fear of escalation.
    We are trying everyone to please.
    Though it isn’t really war,
    We’re sending 50,000 more,
    To help save Vietnam from the Vietnamese."

    In LBJ’s case, 50,000 more at a time never really turned things around. More than 50,000 Americans were killed, though.

    Afghanistan is a quagmire. We oughtn’t be talking about how long we’re staying but about how quick we’re leaving.


  • Hey Jim:

    Let’s wait til we see this supposed deal happen before we condemn it, eh?  I don’t put a lot of stock into what the National Post says.

  • Whooee! Yup, Dion and Harper will agree to stay and fight for Hamid Karzai’s Islamic narco-state. When leaders make a deal like this simply to avoid an election, the only ones who lose are those opposed to the Afghan mission. That’s a majority of Canadians but who cares what the public thinks? The public’s too stoopid to understand how we’re bringin’ freedom to Afghanistan, one hanged journalist at a time.

    It doesn’t matter that we’re sending our kids to die for a country we can’t even trust with POW’s. The goal is not to help Afghanis. The goal is to (re)establish Canada’s role on the world stage. Manley said so in his report. Harper’s said so before. It’s all for glory and international prestige. I don’t find propping up a warlord-ruled, opium-financed, torture-practicing, Shariah Law-abiding nation to to particularly glorious or prestigious.


  • This could just be just Tory mischief making (make that probably Tory mischief making), but John Ivison is claiming that Dion is about to make a deal with Harper.

  • Greg: Remember that the last extension passed by only four votes at a time when the Libs had no permanent leader (and indeed their interim leader backed the extension). If Dion doesn’t have enough clout to get just a few of his own MPs to side with the party line beyond the ones who would vote with him already, then Afghanistan is the least of his problems.

  • I would assert that Dion’s views on the mission are a lot closer to Layton’s then they are to Stephen Harper (or Harper’s proxy guy John Manley).

    I agree with you, but do you think Dion can convince the Iggy/Rae people to come along? They are much closer to Manley and Harper than Dion.

  • mushroom

    Thanks for the plug, Scott.  Still waiting for your response on facebook with regards to Italy and PR 😉

    If you want to have fun on this issue, check out the full speech that Layton gave at the University of Ottawa last evening

    By far the best foreign policy speech I have heard in a while.  Calls for a return to Canada’s peacekeeping roots and gives a tribute to Lester B. Pearson.     

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