House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was afghanistan.

Topics

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, suffice it to say that we have committed our troops to this mission. We will take the time that is necessary to address this issue and have a vote in the House of Commons as opposed to dealing with it in the haphazard manner that the opposition is trying to do.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois and I would also like to extend our condolences to all the families of the soldiers who died on Afghan soil.

I want to start as well by getting one thing out of the way for the Bloc Québécois. I must admit that we are totally fed up with being told every time we ask a question about the mandate of the mission that we do not support the mission or do not support the troops in the field. This is a totally Bush approach, so named because President Bush always says that whoever is not with him is against him.

I would like to remind my Conservative colleagues that this is a parliament. A parliament does not express a single point of view. The government is entitled to its point of view, but the opposition is too. The Liberals are entitled to their point of view, just as the Bloc Québécois and the NDP are. We are elected by people who send us here to represent them. It is only natural that we will not always have the same approach or look at issues from the same angle. The opposition and the Bloc Québécois are tired of hearing certain things. Every time we question the government, every time we introduce a motion or a bill that is not in line with government policy, they tell us that we do not support the troops. That is simply not true. We should show respect for all points of view in the House, try as much as possible to reach a consensus, and then decide the issue on a vote. That is what democracy is all about.

So we are a little fed up with constantly being told that we do not support the troops. We support them, and even with the motion before us today, we will continue to support them. I would like to remind the government, though, that in politics it is the civilian authorities who decide what a country’s armed forces will do. When that is not how it works, it is simply because it is not a democracy any more. The day we have 308 Conservative members here, we will be living in a dictatorship. It is not very hard to figure out and I hope things never come to that. That is why parliaments are responsible for dealing with these issues and why they are made up the way they are with a government and an opposition. We should respect the points of view expressed by all the parties in this Parliament.

I would like to quickly review a little history. First, people are wondering how it is that we have Canadian soldiers on Afghan soil. We have to recall the entire situation. This is important, because we need to keep repeating how this came about. It is not complicated; it came about in response to the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The American government reacted very strongly and the UN also reacted. The next day, or the day after, the UN declared that the American government had the right to defend itself. Also the next day, NATO, which is a military and political alliance, invoked , for the first time, Article Five of its constitution declaring an attack on one member to be an attack on them all.

From that point onward, the Liberal government of the day and the Bloc Québécois said that it was entirely legitimate, and most importantly legal, internationally, to send soldiers there. That is how it started, under American command, with Operation Enduring Freedom. People went to Afghanistan to oust the Taliban from power, to ensure that this could never happen again. There were in fact a lot of terrorist training camps, and that question had to be settled once and for all. Canada, like many other countries, said that we had to support the Americans there. We have no problem with this, unlike with what is happening in Iraq. We had a UN mandate and a NATO mandate, and so it was entirely legitimate for us to go there.

Operation Enduring Freedom began and the Americans decided that they had to stabilize the capital first, and so they stabilized Kabul. We helped them do that. We had troops there. As well, NATO was getting more and more involved. There were discussions among all of the allies, and everyone seemed to be saying that NATO should be the organization in charge of the entire operation. That is what started to happen. As soon as Kabul was stabilized, NATO began to take control, and after that it was decided to move backward around the compass, in terms of the cardinal points. To explain, the NATO forces started by stabilizing the north, and then NATO took control.

The west was stabilized, and then NATO took control. The south was stabilized, and then NATO took control. On July 1 of last year, NATO took total control of Afghanistan. Certainly the Americans are still there, but a sort of division of labour has occurred. However, everyone agrees that it is NATO that now holds the mandate. We are currently participating in a NATO operation. That is why Canadian troops are on Afghan soil.

As for what has been going on in Kandahar since we have been there, there is a problem. A military operation has its limits, and the Conservative government has failed to understand this. It has placed too much emphasis on the military operation.

People say that the logic is simplistic when we talk about the 3D approach—the government's official policy: defence, diplomacy and development—and when we say we have 2,500 soldiers in the ground in Afghanistan.

For development, we have six people looking after CIDA's development projects. I do not want to hear anyone say this is false, because we were there and we were told this when I asked the question of how many people on the ground were assigned to CIDA and development programs.

For diplomacy and Foreign Affairs, we have six people as well.

I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that this mission is very unbalanced. Everything that is happening proves this to be true.

Consider the escalating military involvement. The minister said we would not be sending tanks over there. But then what happened? And it is not just tanks. More purchases are being justified every day. We have now bought $21 billion worth of military equipment. These purchases are often justified by saying that it is for Afghanistan.

Consider the C-17 strategic lift aircraft. My colleagues have already talked about this. Before now, it cost about $50 million or $100 million to lease them. Now, they are costing us $3.4 billion, and on top of that, the economic spinoffs were poorly orchestrated. Once again, Quebec has been victimized in terms of these contracts. Clearly, the military is ramping up.

First, we sent tanks. Then, oddly enough, after a meeting in Quebec City with the military personnel responsible for southern Afghanistan, including the Dutch, the minister stated that we would lease equipment from our German friends and buy it from our Dutch friends. The deal was probably made at that meeting. These discussions must have taken place in Quebec City. All of a sudden, the tanks are arriving, with a $650 million price tag. All that taxpayers in Canada and Quebec have to do is pay the bill. There is no doubt that the military is ramping up.

The Pakistan issue is also a problem. When they say the situation has deteriorated, that means they are having problems catching the Taliban. As soon as things heat up, they take refuge in the Pakistan oasis. I call it that because when their fighters are tired out, the border is so porous that they can get into Pakistan easily. Neither the NATO troops nor the Canadian troops can follow them into Pakistani territory because that country is an ally in this war. Nevertheless, intentionally or otherwise, NATO troops have a very hard time controlling the border. Pakistan is therefore a huge problem.

Furthermore, we have seen no progress regarding poppy cultivation. This is a fundamental problem in Afghanistan. We have been hearing for months that this issue needs to be resolved. The government, however, prefers to bombard us with the importance of military force to drive out the Taliban. Meanwhile, the Taliban encourages poppy cultivation. They use it to fuel and finance their activities. Once again, a misunderstanding by Canada and its allies on this matter suggests eradication or aerial spraying of chemicals to destroy the crops.

Then what? What do we say to the peasant who earns his meagre income from that? For it is not the peasant—the one who grows it—who profits most from it. It is the middleman who comes afterwards. So what do we say to that peasant? That we are sorry, but this afternoon, our dozens of tractors in his field are going to put an end to his poppies?

People have begun saying that, if we wanted to drive them into the arms of the Taliban, there was no better way to do it. The Taliban tell the people they are willing to protect them and pay them for their crops. This problem must be resolved, especially since it also causes corruption and finances the Taliban regime. The best way to solve it is definitely not eradication. We should instead be trying to find ways to use this crop to legitimately supply the pharmaceutical industry, for instance. The Senlis Council released an excellent study on this topic.

On the other hand, having attended NATO meetings, I know that there is a great deal of discussion between NATO and the European Union to determine whether, if a peasant's poppy field is replanted with potatoes or tomatoes, part of the crop can be sold on the European market. These are discussions between NATO and the European Union. That makes sense because if you replace poppies with tomatoes you may not be able to sell them because of the small domestic market, lack of money or the fact that it just is not profitable. If you sell five tomatoes at the market whereas you wish to sell five cases, it is impossible to get ahead financially. However, if the European Union and NATO become involved and share a part of their domestic markets, it can work.

There is also the matter of the caveats, or the rules of engagement. There have been significant problems in this regard among our allies. Canada has no caveats. Canadian troops patrol 24 hours a day and carry out all kinds of operations. To my great surprise, when I went to Faizabad in northern Afghanistan at the invitation of NATO, the German troops said to me, “Mr. Bachand, it is 8 o'clock, we must return to camp”. I asked why we had to return to camp at 8. They replied that their parliament had given the order to return to camp at 8 o'clock.

Mr. Speaker, you will indicate how much time I have left as I do not wish to see you become impatient.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I must remind the member that it is not permitted to name a member of the House, not even yourself.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

In that case, Mr. Speaker, I will rephrase my sentence.

The member for Saint-Jean went to the north of Afghanistan. At 8 o’clock, this poor member was told that we have to return to the camp. That was the caveat established by their parliament. At 8 o’clock, they have to return to base. I told myself that this did not make sense. How is it that Canadian soldiers do not have this caveat and all of our allies do? At present we are working very hard on this matter.

I must agree that we have a great many problems with the Karzaï government. Mr. Karzaï is known as the mayor of Kabul, which means that the people do not see him having any authority outside Kabul. Therefore, it is very difficult to establish his authority. As one moves away from the capital, his authority continuously diminishes. It is the war lords and clan chiefs who decide what will happen. Some governors —probably many—it is a known fact, have been corrupted by the illegal trafficking. Even some members of the Afghan Parliament are known as influential members of the illegal drug trade. That causes a great many problems. Many civilians have been killed. In a military operation, seeing that the bombing takes place without distinction between civilians and the Taliban, that has certain consequences. The population rises up against that. They have the impression that they are facing an army of occupation and not a liberating army. They see an army that does not make enough distinction between civilians and the Taliban.

The matter of prisoners is a very important point. We called for the resignation of the minister on this point because he misled the House. And that is continuing. When our soldiers take prisoners they turn them over to the Afghan authorities. We have received reports from the American state department that clearly show that torture is a regular practice there. People have their toenails or fingernails pulled out, or their fingers cut off. Women there are sex slaves. They are thrown in with the prisoners and so are children. It is there in the report by the state department. Those are not the words of the member for Saint-Jean; it is the United States state department.

The Canadian soldiers who are involved in that are in grave danger. The minister is an accomplice to it. The Government of Canada could brought before international tribunals; perhaps even before the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of War Crimes, to which we are a signatory. We could face charges. The Speaker of the House might also face charges. Indeed, responsibility for this situation could be extended to the entire Parliament. So, there are dangers. When the Bloc Québécois raises these kinds of issues, we are accused of not supporting our troops. As I said at the start of my remarks, what constantly irritates us is that every time we suggest the least amendment, we are accused of not supporting our troops.

I have been to Afghanistan twice and I have met with General Richards, the NATO commander. He said himself that if we do not change course and if we maintain the military approach, in six or seven months we will lose 70% of the population. People would rather side with the Taliban than with an army like that, especially in light of the abuses I have just described.

The Bloc has long been calling for a change in this mission. The numbers speak for themselves: $1.8 billion has been invested in the military and $300 million has been invested in development. Let us talk about development. Earlier, I talked about people and their responsibilities. They get Afghan companies to sign contracts, but there is no accountability. An individual is given $100,000 to dig a well in a village. A year later, no one has checked to see if the well has been dug. What did they do with the money?

There are huge problems and it is time to come up with solutions. Instead of focussing on these problems, this government wants to buy more tanks and send more troops. That is a reflection of the Prime Minister's foreign policy. He sticks close to George W. Bush all the time and tells him we are behind him. The message to our European allies is that we support the Americans, and that message is not well received.

This has happened many times. There was the war in Lebanon, and this Prime Minister has put forward many other policies that fly in the face of multilateralism, which Canada was long known for. Where did Canada's strength lie? First, in peacekeeping, and second, in its ability to find solutions. Canada had friends throughout Europe. Now, we attach ourselves to the Americans and take George Bush at his word when he says that we are either with him or against him. Canada has decided to be with the American president and, naturally, against those who are not. Of course, that is not how things really are, but I see the reluctance of the 27 NATO countries. Many say that they do not recognize Canada. We believe that Canada's multilateral approach is essentially good. But in the absence of that approach, problems arise. We become isolated and a virtual slave to the American government. Military contracts are a prime example. We are sending billions of dollars south of the border and demanding nothing. Yet we are the buyer, we are signing the cheque.

There is much to be done. Why not ask a senior UN official to coordinate everything? Why does the Prime Minister not do that? Why does he not call for an international conference? Is he afraid of antagonizing his American friends? He should call for an international conference with Iran and all the neighbouring countries, such as India and Pakistan. Diplomatic solutions—the third D—must also be found. We cannot just close our eyes and say that Pakistan is our ally and we should leave it alone, when it continually gives refuge to the Taliban.

We will therefore support the motion. We agreed to extend the mission to 2009, and the motion clearly states that military operations will continue until 2009. For a very long time, we have tried to tell this government that it should change the mandate of the mission, but it has not listened. Now we have the answer. We will carry on until February 2009, at which time military operations must end. The Bloc Québécois believes that this is a sound position. We will support this motion.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Questions and comments. I note that there is a great deal of interest on the part of members. We have 10 minutes available for questions and I would like to divide that time as fairly as possible.

All questioners should look at the Chair so that they are not embarrassed with being cut off in mid-sentence.

I recognize the hon. member for Lévis--Bellechasse.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the remarks of the member for Saint-Jean, and found that it was only at the very end that he stated his position on the motion. I am also a member of the Standing Committee on National Defence, and he raised some interesting proposals, especially in terms of drugs. However, with the Bloc, we never know which way the wind is blowing. One debate, they are in favour; the next debate, they are against. At the end of his remarks, we learned that the Bloc intends to support this motion.

Yet, if this motion were adopted, would that not be clearly saying to the Taliban that they need only wait until the Canadians leave and after that it would be every man for himself? I was part of the mission in Southern Afghanistan that Mr. Bachand spoke about. The Afghans told us that if we left, they would have no more hope.

In the end, if this motion is adopted, are we not pushing the Afghan people into the arms of the Taliban terrorists?

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I know that the hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse is a new member of this House but he was present when I mentioned earlier that it is not permitted to name other members, or even yourself. Members must be identified by their riding.

The hon. member for Saint-Jean has the floor.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse is forgiven. He is a fine fellow and I cannot hold a little mistake like that against him.

His question is valid, but we have another two years before us. The military operation will not end tomorrow morning. We will see what happens in 2009. For now, we support this motion because we have often tried to persuade the government that it is going in the wrong direction, that there has been an escalation of military activity and that everyone agrees that is not what we should be doing. Despite that, the signal that the government has been sending is that they are plowing ahead.

We have therefore decided that it is time to act. We are telling the public that it will end in February 2009 and we will withdraw from combat operations. That is what the motion says. It does not say that we will stop development and reconstruction. It does not say that we can not go elsewhere in Afghanistan. The motion before us leaves open many options, but in our view, it means an end to a strictly military approach.

I do not believe that this will have an effect on the Taliban because other avenues are proposed, such as international conferences or the presence of a senior UN representative. We want to resolve the problem in the most peaceful way possible instead of relying on a military solution.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like the member's opinion on what exactly Canadians have brought to the Afghan people. As far as I can see it is instability. Under the previous U.S. backed Taliban there may have been oppression, but people did not fear for their lives every single day because of suicide bombers.

I listened to the parliamentary secretary talk about the hospitals and schools that have been built. He has neglected to talk about the hospitals and schools that have been bombed by the Taliban.

According to the New York Times, it is the Netherlands that is building this trust. It is the Netherlands that is building the schools. It is the Netherlands that is building mosques and hospitals. The Netherlands is building up a relationship with the Afghan people.

I understand there is a necessity to suppress the terrorists. However, I believe that as Canadians it is our role to be there along with the Netherlands, not securing a pathway for an oil line to go through Afghanistan.

This war cannot be won with weapons. It can be won only through understanding.

I do not thump my religion much, but I do recall that we are supposed to turn our swords into ploughshares. If anyone thinks that is a mockery, then let us take it all or take none of it.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with much of what my colleague said. And I can prove it.

The members of the Standing Committee on National Defence went to southern Afghanistan, to Kandahar. For several days, I asked to see clinics and hospitals and schools. We were always told that for security reasons we could not leave the base. We had to rely on the journalists and our own heated protests to get out.

When we did get out, we were taken to the Afghan army training centre, which was very interesting, and the Afghan police training centre. But that is not what we wanted to see. We would have liked to see whether development was happening. Personally, I have doubts. We are always being told that it is wonderful, that everyone has gone back to school, but a lot of other groups are giving us information and telling us that this is not what is happening, that there are no schools. The girls who were in school a few years ago are now at home, because there may be Taliban who take a dim view of them going to school.

We therefore think that it is time to focus on development and reconstruction. As was said, we will finish the job, to meet our international commitments, in February 2009. Clearly, we will cease military combat in February 2009, and I hope that we will work on reconstruction and development.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, the insurgency, the security problems and the conflict in Afghanistan are all getting worse and the lives of regular Afghans are not improving.

We know that Afghan women are still subject to arbitrary imprisonment, rape, torture and forced marriage. This is why in August last year the NDP asked that the present mission end. Instead of destruction there should be construction. Instead of search and kill there should be mediation to bring insurgents into reconciliation.

Canadians should be assisting in empowering the local organizations and government instead of top down solutions. Rather than relying on old Soviet landmines for protection, Canadians should be removing the landmines. Instead of spending $2.5 billion so far on combat, Canada should be spending it on development aid.

Now is the time to end the combat mission and change it to a peace mission. Surely the hon. member is not going to join the Conservatives and the Liberals in voting to continue this losing war for two more years, especially when Quebec men and women will be sent to Kandahar this summer and will be in harm's way.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I do not think anyone in this House will be surprised if I say that I believe in a sovereign Quebec. I always try to put myself in the situation of a sovereign Quebec. What would we do in this situation?

When we make a commitment to the international community and that commitment is to expire on a specific date, then it is somewhat difficult to tell that community that we have changed our mind and we no longer want to be there.

I therefore agree to a large extent with what my colleague is saying, but I also agree that we should honour our commitments to NATO and the international community and that we should therefore complete the military mandate in February 2009.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I too am on the defence committee as the chair. We were in Afghanistan at the end of January and we were briefed by a number of people, General Richards being one. His comments about the contribution of Canada to that mission were exemplary. There were no bounds to his praise for our troops. It was quite refreshing to hear.

There were two people we met who really impressed me. The first was a soldier who disarms improvised explosive devices. He was quite an impressive young man. The other one was a warrant officer who sits down with the shura councils. When we talk about winning the hearts and minds of Afghanistan civilians, that is where we need to start. That is where emphasis needs to be placed and we are doing that.

I would like a comment from the member opposite about the efforts we are putting into dealing with shura councils.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence has brought up a valuable initiative.

If we devoted our energy to being more diplomatic, to consulting the jirga groups, the elders, the women's groups, to try to understand and propose projects that they will embrace, we would be on the right track. Unfortunately, we keep on hearing that for months, this is not what has been happening. There are military operations like Medusa and Baaz Tsuka. There should be more operations like the ones the Minister of National Defence has proposed. That has not been done, and that is why we support this motion today.

Opposition motion—Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam.

The NDP supports our troops. The NDP joins with all members of Parliament and all Canadians in expressing our condolences for the lives lost, including the tragic loss of life yesterday. We extend our condolences, wishes and prayers to the families and comrades of those who have fallen.

Our young men and women are losing their lives in a mission that is both failing and futile. How many more lives are we going to lose before the parties in this place come to their senses?

The NDP opposes this motion. Why? Because it prolongs a George Bush style combat mission in Afghanistan. The Liberals and their flip-flopping leader do not seem to understand the critical issues that are facing this country in this situation. A year ago the Liberals voted both for and against the motion to extend the mission. The now deputy leader of the Liberal Party voted for and the now defence critic voted against. Today with this motion the Liberals are endorsing the two year extension of the mission and the Prime Minister's game plan for Afghanistan.

By contrast, a year ago the NDP opposed the proposed extension of the mission. Had the Liberals listened to the NDP at the time, we would be following a path of reconstruction, aid and redevelopment now, not the current path of counter-insurgency and combat. The Liberals now claim to agree with the NDP that the current mission is wrong, and if they do agree, then why wait two years to begin the withdrawal of our soldiers?

The record is clear. The Liberals took us into this mission when it was called Operation Enduring Freedom and was directed directly from the White House. They never consulted with Canadians; they never consulted with Parliament.

The things wrong with this mission will continue to be wrong for the next two years and it will only get worse: a seek and kill counter-insurgency; imbalance between military and humanitarian aid spending; deteriorating humanitarian conditions. Why continue to prolong this flawed mission?

It is not responsible to prolong this mission. This is not a demonstration of leadership. It is a lack of respect for the women and men in uniform. These men and these women in the armed forces are putting their lives in danger daily in Afghanistan. They deserve to know that the members are thinking seriously about the mission in which they are engaged.

Our troops need to feel confident about the mission. They need to know that military deployments will take place at the right time and for the right reasons. They also need to know that military strategy will be reviewed and reconsidered if it is not the right one for getting the job done.

When a party comes to the conclusion that a mission is wrong, then it cannot in good conscience tell our soldiers to continue in that mission for another two years. It must bring the troops home at the first opportunity.

It is important to support our troops in every way to ensure that the mission is appropriate, that there is decent pay, that there is support throughout their lives as we have done with our veterans first motion.

The NDP position on the combat mission in Afghanistan is very clear. It is a Bush style counter-insurgency mission not leading to lasting peace and better living conditions. It is unbalanced and overwhelmingly focused on aggressive counter-insurgency. The humanitarian situation is simply not improving and the effort cannot be won militarily.

Canada must demonstrate leadership and try to find practical solutions.

The safe and resolute withdrawal of our troops, in consultation with our allies, is now necessary. At the same time, we must now make a concentrated effort to develop a new approach as to the role of Canada in Afghanistan.

That begins by opening up a dialogue with the countries that are committed to helping the people of Afghanistan. We must work together in order to establish peace, development and justice.

Our approach must respect and involve the organizations, groups and governments at the local level in Afghanistan.

Canada must draw on its experience to ensure the diplomacy, aid and reconstruction that Canadians and Quebeckers want to see in Afghanistan. This should begin with a ceasefire as soon as possible.

Showing leadership in Afghanistan means working for peace negotiations. Chris Alexander, Canada's former ambassador to Afghanistan and now a leading UN official in Afghanistan, said that the absence of a peace deal in Afghanistan is fuelling the conflict. Gordon Smith, former senior Canadian diplomat and head of the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria, called on the international community to undertake serious efforts at inclusive and comprehensive peace negotiations. This is what Canada must be doing, but as long as we are engaged in the offence in the south, this will not be possible.

In an effort to try to find common ground, let me propose the following amendment to determine whether or not the House would be willing to take the appropriate actions. The amendment would read as follows: “That the motion be amended by deleting the words after 'operations in southern Afghanistan' in the preamble and replacing them with the following: 'This House call on the government to begin now to withdraw Canadian Forces in a safe and secure manner from the counter-insurgency mission in Afghanistan and call upon the government to notify NATO of this decision immediately'”.