Mr. Speaker, Canada is in Afghanistan along with 60 other nations and international organizations as part of a UN sanctioned mission to help build a stable, democratic and self-sustaining society.
Canada has shown leadership by committing development assistance and deploying diplomats, development workers, troops and civilian police to help the Afghan government secure a better future for its people.
Canadians understand that without security there can be no humanitarian aid, no reconstruction and no democratic development.
The Canadian approach focuses on enabling Afghan leadership. Through training, including training of the Afghan national police and army, we are passing on skills that will allow Afghanistan to progressively assume responsibility for defending its sovereignty. This will not be completed by February 2009, but we believe this objective should be achievable by 2011. That is why the government has appointed an independent panel to advise Canadians on how best to proceed, given these considerations.