Mr. Speaker, the reply is as follows:
a) A Treasury Board submission is currently being prepared. Once it is complete, the details will be made public.
b) Independent Panel Secretariat: David Mulroney, Secretary, DM-01 Elissa Golberg, Executive Director, EX-01 Sanjeev Chowdhury, Director, Operations, FS-03 Col. Mike Cessford, Special Advisor, EX-01 Sam Millar, Special Advisor, EX-01 Cory Anderson, Special Advisor, PM-05 Kaitlyn Pritchard, Project Officer, FS-01 Elizabeth Thébaud, Administrative Assistant, AS-02
c) The Independent Panel first met on October 19, 2007.
d) The Independent Panel will meet regularly until the report is finalized. They have set up a number of regular meetings until the end of December 2007 and add meetings as required.
e) The Independent Panel’s last expected meeting will take place after the report is submitted, in either late January 2008 or early February 2008.
f) The Independent Panel has been offered per diems in the range of $1200 to $1400 for the chair and between $850 to $1000 for panel members. However, some members of the Independent Panel have declined to be remunerated, either because they are in receipt of a government pension or for personal reasons. In addition, the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act contains provisions that limit the amount a former MP can earn from the government while in receipt of a pension under the act. As this is personal information, the particulars of each case are not made public.
g) The Independent Panel Secretariat prepares briefing notes for the panel. The secretariat has been approaching government departments for factual material for inclusion in those briefing notes, and thus far, the secretariat has consulted Foreign Affairs, DFAIT, Department of National Defence, DND, and Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA for factual information.
i) The Independent Panel has been asked to consider four options, including:
i) To continue training the Afghan army and police so that Canada can begin withdrawing its forces in February 2009;
ii) To focus on reconstruction and have forces from another country take over security in Kandahar;
iii) To shift Canadian security and reconstruction efforts to another region in Afghanistan; and
iv) To withdraw all Canadian military personnel except a minimal force to protect aid workers and diplomats.
The Independent Panel may also identify and pursue additional options.
Over the next three months, the panel plans to carry out a series of consultations with Canadian and international experts, including individuals from the political, diplomatic, development and security sectors, in order to develop a series of recommendations on Canada’s future role in Afghanistan.
The Independent Panel’s final report will be delivered to the Prime Minister in January 2008.
More details on the terms of reference can be found on the panel’s website: www.independent-panel-independant.ca
j) The Independent Panel is expected to travel to Afghanistan, the US and Western Europe.
k) The Independent Panel Secretariat will be co-ordinating the final report.
l) The Prime Minister has stated that the government will take the Independent Panel’s recommendation very seriously. He also indicated that in the end Parliament will consider all the options that are deemed to be realistic by either the government or the Independent Panel.