Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
OPINION Dangerous liaisons
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 10 Mar 2006, p. 6

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper is standing tall, for now, about Canada's continued military role in Afghanistan. We wonder how long this position will last. The prime minister plays upon Canadian pride when he suggests that our nation's respected military history doesn't include turning our backs on allies when casualties begin to mount. "Canadians don't cut and run at the first sign of trouble," the prime minister said following a deadly week for Canadian soldiers stationed in Kandahar. "That's the nature of this country and when we send troops into the field, I expect Canadians to support those troops." It's not the support of troops Harper should be worried about. As the prime minster accurately stated this week the proverbial buck stops at the federal cabinet when it comes to deciding when Canadian troops should be recalled from the region. While Canada's military commitment of 2,000 troops to Kandahar was for a one-year period ending next March, it would be extremely naive to believe that our American allies won't come looking for an extension to that promise within the next 12 months. Classified Canadian threat assessment documents reveal that Afghanistan terrorist activity is supported financially by the country's $2.8-billion (2004 figure) opium trade. A protracted Canadian mission in Afghanistan-- some military experts suggest Canada might be needed in the region for up to a decade-- will inevitably result in more images of caskets draped in the Canadian flag leading off the evening news. Down the road, the combination of rising Canadian casualties and no measurable improvement to the situation in Afghanistan could lead public opinion to conclude the effort is futile and should be abandoned by our government. The longer Canadian soldiers are stationed in Kandahar, the thinner the political tight rope becomes for Harper. Too many military funerals on Canadian soil could become the downfall of the prime minister and his minority government.

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10 Mar 2006
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Harper, Stephen
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OPINION Dangerous liaisons