With the House of Commons adjourned for the summer, now is as good a time as any for ordinary Canadians to get in touch with their Members of Parliament, sending them letters, messages, and possibly even face-to-face conversations about the issues that matter to them. Earlier today, as I am prone to doing, I was thinking about Canada's mission in Afghanistan and its mortifyingly low level of support among the Canadian public. There are a number of things to blame for this: politicians with little to no conviction to stand up for our national interests, an irresponsible media, apathy and ignorance among the civilian population, a rising death toll that outstrips all of our other NATO allies, and who knows what all else.
Through this blog and other venues, I've tried to make the case for a continued strong Canadian presence in Afghanistan. I am now going to turn my attention directly to Canadian politicians by writing a series of letters that will be sent to each MP according to his/her caucus. I intend to ask the NDP whey they support abandoning the women of Afghanistan while in the same breath acknowledging that the work we're doing there isn't complete. I intend to ask the Liberals why they have abdicated liberal principles in international relations. And I intend to ask the Conservatives why they are unwilling to step forward, own the issue, and plainly state the case--as often as is necessary--for Canada's continued military and diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. I will be unveiling these letters as I write them here on the blog, and will be sure to note any responses that I receive. I may also do "special" letters for the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defence, CIDA, and the respective party critics. Hitting the rank and file caucus members is one thing, directing attention to the key players is even more important.
We're on the verge of losing the Canadian public on a matter of our national interest because of their own disinterest. At the same time that Afghanistan's reconstruction and stabilization is in our national interest, it is also a matter of living up to our values and principles. Canada says it stands for democracy, liberty, equality, the rule of law, and human security. All of these principles are at play in Afghanistan. If we abandon principle and interest to satisfy a narrow and, frankly, dangerous, view of our role in the world, we will lose much more than a little bit of face in Washington; indeed, we will lose a piece of what makes Canada great.