Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Western Arctic.
I want to begin my comments on a personal note. My father was a World War II veteran. Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II; one was decorated for bravery in the field. In fact, he was gassed during World War I, and he would not be embarrassed at all. I am hearing some catcalls from the other side. And in fact I have been in harm's way, not with the military but in a conflict zone.
I say that because I have been very discouraged during this debate when we have heard members of this House question the loyalty of members when they stand to actually pose questions because that is what our job is.
If we look at the importance of what we do here, it is exactly what we are doing here, the essence of democracy and freedom that we hear so often as the clarion call from other members. Yet, strangely, paradoxically enough, they say that we should not be debating this issue, that we give some sort of strange aid to the enemy by even discussing it. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
When we take a look at this motion and we take a look at this mission, we need to establish what this motion is about and what it is not about.
It is about being responsible actors on the world stage. When we take a look at a mission that is not working, in terms of its counter-insurgency aims, in terms of the methods that are being used, it is responsible to stop, pause and tell our NATO partners it is time for us to withdraw responsibly. That is what is in the motion. We believe that real security will not be achieved if we continue down this path that we have continued on in the last couple of years in the south of Afghanistan in Kandahar.
The evidence is mounting. It is not just with the lack of understanding and clarity in terms of turning over prisoners. We have seen in this House the confusion of the government as to how to deal with that. But it is also evidenced on the ground in Afghanistan. What we see are disparities continuing to increase. We see that in places that are more secure, like Kabul, they had electricity on a regular basis. Now electricity is failing there. Yet, we see an increase in the number of people who are benefiting from some of the money that is being poured into the area.
What we need to do is to ensure that everything we do, that all the action our government takes, is going to benefit the people of Afghanistan. To date, we have seen a focus on spending our money, putting our resources into a fighting mission, and not into a mission that will bring lasting peace.
We just have to look at what is happening in the area of conflict in Kandahar to see that not only are men and women in our forces sadly losing their lives, but we also see increased conflict within the region. We see increased deployment of terrorists, for sure, but what are these motivations? What are the motivating factors and what is the success in defeating them? What seems to be clear is that the counter-insurgency tactics we have used have not been working.
We know that other members of NATO have used other tactics. If we look at the success of the Dutch, for instance, who had a full debate before they deployed troops, they had clear mandates in terms of rules, responsibilities, and the handing over of prisoners. If we look at their rules of engagement, they are entirely different from ours. The reason is pretty clear. It goes back to how we got here.
I actually want to turn my attention now to the previous government. I listened earlier to members of the Liberal Party talk about only having a six hour notice for the debate and vote last spring on extending the mission. However, it is really important to recall how we got here.
The Liberal Party, when it was government, gave our military just over 45 minutes notice that we were committing our troops to this kind of mission. That is irresponsible because that was against the advice of the military at the time.
It is also important to know that before the horrific events of 9/11 the military had been studying conflict, the worst case scenario of where our troops could be deployed. Guess what? The region that was identified is exactly the region we are in.
The military had that knowledge. It had that advice and provided it to the then Liberal government. It is well known now the reason the Liberal government at the time provided our commitment to the United States was simply because of a quid pro quo. The quid pro quo was because we were not going to commit troops to Iraq. There is no dispute about that. That is known.
However, it should be something we remind ourselves of because we have to understand where we are at now and how we got here.
Further to that, after we had committed against the advice of the military to send the deployment that we committed to which was over 2,000 troops, we then found ourselves way behind. Other NATO countries had committed to missions in Afghanistan. Because of our lackadaisical planning commitment and understanding of what we were getting into, we ended up in Kandahar.
It was not because of planning but simply because of a lack of understanding. That is how we got here. The Liberal Party knows that. Canadians know that.
What we saw this week was the Liberal Party trying to reform itself, re-establish itself, and rewrite history, as my colleague says, and no one is buying it. We need to be clear about what we are doing. The NDP is being clear about what needs to be done and that is to give notice to our NATO partners that we will be withdrawing from the south, that we will redeploy our resources in a different manner to have better outcomes.
Quite simply, what we are going there is not working. Canadians understand that. The government needs to understand that. That in no way should challenge anyone's support of our troops.
In fact, I would submit, the only thing that we have going for us right now is the reputation of the men and women who are actually in Afghanistan. They are the ones who are making us credible. Sadly, it is not our government. Sadly, it was not the Liberal Party before and it was not the Liberal Party, when 22 of their members last year voted with the government to extend the mission.
For those who would say this week that somehow the NDP should have joined with the Liberals on their motion, it is not good enough because the Liberals a year ago had the opportunity to tell us what their position was. The fact of the matter is they do not have a position. They did not last year, they do not now, and that is something Canadians need to know.
Finally, I want to turn my attention to what can be done.
What can be done is to push for what many have already done and that is to have what many people are calling a comprehensive peace plan. That needs to be discussed now. Everyone who has fought in a war knows at some point the war ends. We have to turn our attention to that.
I will end my speech with the following. It was this party in opposition that called on the then Liberal government to tell us what success would look like, what the exit strategy was, and what the objectives were. None of those questions have been answered. We needed to know the answers a year ago. The questions have not been answered now. That is why this motion is a responsible one.
It will provide a way for Canadians to support the Afghans and ensure that there is a more secure and prosperous peace for the people of Afghanistan.