First, Mr. Speaker, I would point out to my hon. colleague that we are not agreeing to extend the mission in its present form. What we did agree to is that the mission must change, it must end and it must be more than military. Again, I want to point out to the member that this could have been done a long time ago, but unfortunately there was not the political will on the other side to do so.
However, there is no question that when it comes to this mission, the mission will not be the same as it presently is. I emphasize that very strongly.
As for the troops on the ground, having been to Afghanistan, I can say about speaking to troops on the ground and to troops who have come home that it makes a certain impact on a person. I am the son of a former World War II combat soldier who was a foot soldier. We all know that foot soldiers obviously are the ones who do the real heaving lifting, or at least that is what my father always told me. When they got into tough situations, the infantry came in.
These people put their lives on the line every day. Whether they are in actual hand to hand combat, securing a compound, or training, they are in a war zone. We certainly understand that when we get off the plane there and have our helmets and our flak jackets on and people are there to ensure that we get back home.
At the time the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a member of the New Democratic Party and I were there, people wanted to make sure that we all got home. When we are there, we are seized by that fact. In the middle of the night when rockets come in, we know that we are clearly in a war zone. Thus, while we want to emphasize these other aspects of diplomacy and development, which are absolutely critical, we believe that for this mission to succeed all aspects have to be dealt with.
On the issue of the New Democratic Party or the Bloc, it is really not up to me to comment. I think all members of the House support our troops regardless of whether they agree with the change in this mission or whatever. They obviously have to answer for themselves, but I think all members of the House certainly support our troops on the ground. I know that for a fact. What I do know, though, is that the approaches that some of the parties are taking are different. They obviously will have to account for those approaches, just as we have to account for the approach we have taken.
However, I certainly agree with the member: we want to make sure that when our forces are there, they are all well protected. We do realize that even in training they may be exposed to attack from time to time. At the end of the day, we do not intend to handicap them. As I say, we have seen that happen before and it certainly has had tragic results, particularly in Rwanda.