Is There Any Good News?
It was a very big deal when it first happened. Now, sure there was some notice, but hardly anywhere near the attention the first time around. Back after he won election, The PM generated headlines for days after making a historic visit to Afghanistan; a move, at least in part, designed to shore up troop morale.
Just last week, he did it again. Harper traveled to Afghanistan, stayed a couple of days, and announced that Canadians may need to prepare themselves for having to stay in the strife-ridden nation well past any planned 2009 evacuation date. Media dutifully reported the event, but just as soon as it was over, coverage and analysis vanished.
If the PM hoped to use the trip as a means of whipping up public support for the Tories, or for any of his policies, the exercise must be called an abysmal failure. Many recent polls hint that the legacy Harper may yet share with his predecessor is that of a propensity for blundering his party out of office. If recent surveys prove accurate, Harper is extremely unpopular. But if there is any positive news for the Conservatives, polls seem to suggest their main rival, Liberal leader Stephane Dion, is also the target of a popular mood that may in the near future have a distinct voting bias in favour of NONE of the ABOVE. According to Angus Reid, “Many adults in Canada appear dissatisfied with the country’s main federal political leaders... 41 per cent of respondents think neither Stephen Harper nor Stéphane Dion would make a good prime minister, up nine points since late March” [‘Canadians Disappointed with Harper and Dion,’ Angus Reid Poll, Angus Reid Global Monitor
, 28 May 2007. Story and data published at http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/15896
]. And when it comes to the specific issue of Afghanistan, both Harper and Dion find themselves still in the same boat. Angus Reid continues: “On May 25, Harper discussed Canada’s military commitment in Afghanistan, saying, ‘The mission there has been long, hard and difficult, (...) but we have racked up an impressive list of accomplishments. The men and women of the Canadian Forces have conducted themselves with the utmost degree of professionalism and demonstrated exceptional bravery and skill on the battlefield.’ Dion declared: ‘Like all Canadians, we remain steadfast in our support for our troops as they put their lives on the line to provide us with a safe and secure world.’ 42 per cent of respondents think Canada is on the right track, while 37 per cent disagree” [Cited in ‘Canadians Disappointed with Harper and Dion.’].
There is lately more and more coverage given over the what’s going wrong with Afghanistan. If one source is anywhere near accurate, then Canadian reconstruction efforts are decidedly and utterly ineffective if not downright counterproductive. In his piece, reporter Murray Brewster observes: “The Canadian International Development Agency is making no headway in rebuilding Afghanistan and should be relieved of its duties, an international think-tank said Monday...In its latest report, the Senlis Council says the federal development agency should be replaced with a special envoy, who has the authority and money to get things done...The development agency currently has two case officers working out of the provincial reconstruction team base in Kandahar City. But since the death of Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry in January 2006, civilian staff are rarely allowed to venture beyond the heavily fortified compound” [Murray Brewster, ‘International Think-tank Says CIDA Should be Relieved of Afghan Role,’ The Chronicle Journal
, 28 May 2007. Story posted at http://www.chroniclejournal.com/CP_stories.php?id=46065
New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, perennial critic of how things are managed in Afghanistan, is again making headlines by calling for a re-think of Central Asian policy: “Citing the rising costs – both human and financial – Mr. Layton said multibillion-dollar purchases of tanks and helicopters could have been avoided if the military was not engaged in a ‘search and destroy mission.’... ‘I think many Canadians are asking themselves whether Mr. Harper hasn't lost track of the priorities of Canadians,’ said Mr. Layton” [Cited in Sean Patrick Sullivan, ‘Layton Says New Approach Needed in Afghanistan,’ CP, 26 May 2007. Story posted at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070526.wlayton0526/BNStory/Front
Is any news good news for the Tories?
Posted by Stan Markotich
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