Mr. Speaker, I am cognizant of the fact that I am participating in the debate in a week when we have lost the 80th soldier, so let me begin by acknowledging the dedication and courage of the men and women in the Canadian Forces, and to express my sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have died.
The debate that is currently before the House is one that none of us are participating in lightly. When we are asking Canadians to put their lives on the line, it is imperative that we go into this afternoon's vote, on the motion that is before us, after having deliberated on all of the opinions that have been expressed not just in this country and in the House but, indeed, right across the world.
Just yesterday in the foreign affairs committee, Mr. Manley appeared and made it quite clear that even he agreed, and he is the author of the commission obviously, that the conflict in that region would not be resolved militarily, that we need to seek a diplomatic end. Similarly, President Karzai, Afghan parliamentarians, and aid groups have all spoken of the need to kickstart dialogue to bring about a lasting peace.
Sixty-five per cent of Afghans say that disarmament is the most important step toward improving security in Afghanistan. Even the former deputy minister of foreign affairs, Gordon Smith, recently said, “What is needed is a process of substantial conversion or reorientation of anti-state elements into an open and non-violent political dynamic”.
In light of the fact that there is a widespread consensus that the counterinsurgency mission is not able to create the conditions that bring about security and stability or to improve the lives of the Afghan people, I have to ask the member opposite, why would he call on Canada to continue on the path of war instead of joining with us in the NDP in our call to build a new path to a lasting peace and security?