Little Fish in a Giant pond

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Time to leave Afghanistan?

I must say that I am disappointed in NDP leader Jack Layton, for his most recent condemnation of the Canadian military's presence in Afghanistan.

Mr. Layton claims that Canada's current mission in the war torn country has no clear goals, no exit strategy, and no criteria to judge success.

I'm really not aware of any official standards that the Canadian army needs to achieve before it pulls out, by I can think of a few off the top of my head that should probably be self-evident:

1) The establishment of a functioning democratic government in Afghanistan, complete with its own army and police services, that would be able to protect its civilian populace and itself from terrorist attacks, kidnappings, etc.

2) The defeat of the Taliban guerillas, or the establishment of sufficient Afghani national forces that would be able to root out the insurgents on their own.

3) The reconstruction of Afghani infrastructure and an Afghani economy.

I realize that these are all pretty high level points, and that most of them are far more easily said than done, but I think we in the Western world are going to have to come to grips with the fact that this war (by which I mean the war between the different Western powers and Islamic extremists) is not going to be over in a few years. I'm afraid that it is going to take decades at the very least, and that Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnia, and Lebanon are merely battles. We should focus less on ending this war, and more on winning it. Because whether we like it or not, we are a part of it.

Whether Mr. Layton chooses to acknowledge it or not, the Taliban government failed to give up Osama Ben laden after September 11th, and so the U.S. had every right to assist in the overthrowing of that government. Now that it has occupied the nation, with a UN mandate to do so, it has the responsability of putting the nation back on its feet, which is something Canada should be proud to assist in.

Much as we'd like to, we can't always be building schools and digging wells in Afghanistan. There is a serious Taliban threat to democracy in that country, and our troops are doing good work to crush that threat, so that the wells and schools will not be destroyed.

I will not go so far as to accuse Jack Layton of not supporting out troops, or of being unpatriotic, but I think he is doing a huge disservice to the Afghani people, and to the international community.

Just so that I do not come off as being too partisan here, I am even more disappointed in those Liberal Members of Parliament, who voted against our army's continued presence in Afghanistan, after our own party sent them there!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Well, after having made my last posting on a relatively minor subject, I think I'm warmed up enough to tackle something a little more important. And this time it's actually pretty near and dear to my heart.

I just received word, from my mom, who is a constable with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), that she is going to be heading to the closest thing this province has to a war zone (pretty pathetic compared to an actual war zone I'm sure, but a tense situation nonetheless).
I hope somebody will kindly set me straight if they know more about the situation than I do, but here is a little breakdown of it as I understand it to be, and frankly, I don't know very much about it.

I understand that the Six Nations aboriginals claim the land was ceded to them approximately 200 years ago in exchange for their assistance in repelling an American invasion. Evidently the government disputes this claim, and has taken their case to court, and won, which has prompted the natives in question to occupy the grounds, which were actually owned by a private developer at the time (though the government has since purchased them).

The courts have issued an order for the OPP to remove the natives from the land, by force if necessary, which they have attempted, and were not able to perform due to resistance. The local residents have repeatedly clashed violently with the natives, since they are not pleased with the blockade being erected in their town.

It seemed the situation had quieted down over the last couple of months, but recently there have been a few more violent meetings between the natives and local residents. To top things off, an Ontario judge has ordered the government to stop negotiating with the natives until they clear off of the land.

Once again, if I have gotten any of my facts wrong, or omitted anything, I hope someone will correct me. But here is how I see things, based on what I believe to be the facts of the matter. It seems to me that the natives in question here do not seem to believe that Canadian laws apply to them. But if the court decision had gone their way, would they not have expected the government to comply with it? It is Canada's supreme law, the constitution (via the charter) that guarantees aboriginal treaties. Was it not this very law that they were invoking in order to make their case in court? Could they not take their case to the Ontario Court of Appeals? Should that fail, could they not also appeal to the Supreme Court? I don't think that anyone should be able to pick and choose which laws they will obey.

I believe very strongly that if a treaty was signed that granted them this land, then it is rightfully theirs, and should be restored to them, but if this cannot be proven in court, then it seems unreasonable to me that it should be given to them now. Since they lost their case, it strikes me that this is probably not the case (though like I say, I may not have all the facts).

My first gut instinct is to say, "If aboriginal protesters are not prepared to obey the law, they must be prepared to face it". And as a matter of principal, it sounds like the right thing to do. But this is easier said than done.

Sure we could send in the OPP (and my 5'5", barely over one hundred pounds mother)... or possibly even the army if need be. But what next? After we have hauled them off and put them in jail, will there be room for them at Corrections Canada? And how long can we keep them there? And what's to stop them from coming back?

But we can't simply give in either. If we do, we're sending a clear message to aboriginal groups, "court battles take forever, and you might not win, but aggression is quicker and works every time".

I sure wouldn't want to be in David Peterson's shoes right now. He has a very tough job to do... if the court will let him resume negotiations.

The only thing I'm certain of, it that it will definitely take a wiser person than me to solve this one.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Canada's collective sneeze

Well, after a prolonged absence, I am back to the blogging world by popular demand! (by which I mean, two or three people have suggested that they were slightly less than indifferent about whether or not I wished to continue blogging). At any rate, I'm back.

I have been meaning to start up again for a little while now, and found myself somewhat uninspired, since most of the important subjects are already being discussed on other blogs, but something caught my ear the other day that I found just a little disturbing.

I was watching the news and caught the tail end of a speach made by Prime Minister Steven Harper, it contained the usual rantings of a Prime Minister who is so used to being in the opposition that he did little more than attack the Liberals, but this isn't what vexed me. As he finished off his speech, the prime minister chose to look directly at the camera and say "God bless Canada".

Right off the bat, let's get a one thing straight. I have no problem with Canada being blessed by God, Visnu, Zoroastre, or Don Cherry for that matter.

What makes me just a little bit nervous is that our prime minister is our head of government, and he is supposed to be separate from the church. This kind of talk might mean a lot to the Sunday morning crowd, and any Canadian who happened to have been sneezing at the moment of the PM's speech, but what kind of message is he sending to Canadians that don't believe in the God whose blessing he is dispensing? Or to those who believe in no God at all? Was he only addressing a certain crowd of Canadians?

If he was any other person this would not have bothered me in the slightest. But this is our prime minister, and I don't think it's appropriate for him to be uttering blessings that mean something to one group of Canadians and nothing to others. If Mr. Harper wants to practice his own religion, he has every right to do so, as long as it does not interfere with his prime ministerial duties.

I'm not sure of whether or not Liberal PMs have done the same thing (though I'm sure if you go back far enough, it won't be hard to find), but if they have, I would still consider this to be inappropriate, particularly if it were to have occured within the modern setting.

I realize "Steve" seems to think that whatever happens down south, should be considered the ideal way of persuing democracy, but frankly I think the PM needs to take a step back and realize that he just does not quite have the spiritual muscle of a man that calls himself "dubya".