Monday, June 12, 2006

Gerard's OC: Marissa Free

The Kennedy website launched a group blog over the weekend. For the duration of the campaign I'll be joined by Vincent, Kyle, Dan, and (shortly) Thomas. There will also be posts by campaign volunteers and workers, MPs, and Gerard himself. So bookmark the page and add your comments.

You can read my first post here and my recap of the Saturday debate here. You'll need to follow the link to get the entire recap, but the Reader's Digest version of it is that Kennedy, Dryden, Dion, and Findlay all came across looking quite good while Ignatieff and Brison were really weak on the Afghanistan question.

25 Comments:

  • Why do people keep saying Ignatieff was weak on Afghanistan question?

    I thought he did the best of all of them. It makes me furious that the party's foreign policy seems to be turning to the pacifist, "it's somebody else's problem" agenda of the NDP.

    Ignatieff stood his ground and explained that he voted on principle. Then people tag him as "Harper-lite".... how pathetic is that.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 4:03 PM  

  • riley; I can respect Ignatieff's vote on the question on principle. But his argument he used in the debate was incredibly weak. He basically said "I couldn't vote against the motion on a day a young female soldier died." This is a guy who has studied international politics and conflict his entire life and his argument was "one person died, so we need to extend the mission". There was nothing on creating democracy or following through on our commitement or improving the life of Afghanis.

    There are arguments to be made supporting the mission but Brison and Iggy picked two incredibly weak ones to use during the debate.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:09 PM  

  • "how pathetic is that"

    As pathetic as the whole party if they're going to try to pander their way back.

    For or against are honourable positions. For if we're in power, "maybe-against" when asked to give any other gov't the mandate to negotiate our role beyond Feb. 2007. Pathetic.

    By Blogger anonymous, at 4:15 PM  

  • I was more disappointed that Ignatieff used a clich right wing tactic to criticize those who didnt vote in favour of the resolution.

    Ignatieff: "I had to make a choice to stand with the mission, stand with the troops"

    I think we can all make inferences from what Iggy said--If you voted against the resolution you did not stand by the mission or the troops.

    Nothing could be further from the truth and I was glad to see Rae tear a piece of out him for it. If Ignatieff is the "super intellectual" that he proclaims himself to be he would know that his comments were wanting in logic. I can only assume that he said what he did to demonize his opponents.

    Hopefully it wont work in the Liberal Party.

    By Blogger Kyle Carruthers, at 4:21 PM  

  • CG,

    When he talked about Nicola I didn't think he meant that one person had just died, I felt he was referring to all soldiers who had given their lives for the mission.

    He was speaking about the courage and passion that our men and women put towards these missions.

    I also felt that he implied that that even though Harper was playing politics with the timing of the vote, he wasn't prepared to. There was too much at stake. Therefore he voted proudly for a mission that the Liberal government initiated and for a cause he himself has witnessed first hand.

    As a Masters student studying foreign and defence policy, and a life-long Liberal, I literally cringed when I watched the majority of the party vote against the Afghanistan mission. It made my stomach turn to see us split and divide like that over something so crucial.

    Ignatieff's defence in 90 seconds was better than any cheap-shot Rae or others threw at him that day.

    You picked one line out of his statement and I think we interpreted it differently. With Ignatieff, I felt he was being sincere. He was serious about it. Nicola Goddard died on the day of the debate. He felt that was a symbolic event and could not vote against it in light of her death and the sacrifice it showed for her country.

    Sorry for the rant but Afghanistan is very important to me and it pains me to see Liberals point fingers and compare anyone who believes in a realistic foreign policy to George Bush or Harper.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 4:28 PM  

  • it pains me to see Liberals point fingers and compare anyone who believes in a realistic foreign policy to George Bush or Harper.
    Realistic foreign policy? I would call the view that Canada is incapable of bringing human rights to the entire world the "realistic foreign policy" and the pie in the sky liberal interventionism, as advocated by Ignatieff to be a proven failure--hobbled by the law of unintended consequences.
    Ignatieff's defence in 90 seconds was better than any cheap-shot Rae or others threw at him that day.
    The "cheapshot" on Saturday was when Ignatieff implied that the other candidates supported neither the mission nor the troops by voting against the resolution.

    It was eerily reminiscent of US Republicans saying that John Kerry opposed the war because he voted against a resolution seeking to fund the mission through deficit financing rather than upper class tax hikes.
    Therefore he voted proudly for a mission that the Liberal government initiated and for a cause he himself has witnessed first hand.
    No. Ignatieff voted to give Stephen Harper a blank cheque after less debate than some dry amendments to income tax act would recieved.

    By Blogger Kyle Carruthers, at 4:42 PM  

  • "I had to make a choice to stand with the mission, stand with the troops"

    I took that to imply that it was his choice and not a hidden attack.

    And it isn't carte blanche to Harper. NATO requested a commitment from Canada and Harper deceptively decided not to reveal that info before the "debate". It's not like the US deciding to stay in or leave Iraq: that war was entirely of their own making, is entirely of their own management and, other than a few small contributors, entirely theirs to continue or discontinue.

    Afghanistan is a joint effort. So there is a huge difference.

    But it seems like many of us are bent on proving Harper right: that by his playing dirty politics with a significant issue, Liberals will turn on themselves and emerge from their leadership race fractured and divided.

    Every candidate is going to make statements that can be interpreted a number of different ways. Look at Rae's statement comparing the Softwood Lumber "deal" to the Munich Pact: not well thought out but clearly not intended the way it was spun. We can choose to give candidates the benefit of the doubt or not to score points for our respective candidates, but hopefully we don't.

    Ted

    By Blogger Cerberus, at 4:58 PM  

  • I'm also pretty ticked that people are saying there has been no debate on the issue.

    If MP's went in to that debate not knowing anything about Afghanistan, then they were lazy.

    There have been over a dozen committee reports to parliament on the issue as well as parliamentary declarations to help Afghanistan EVEN before September 11th. In fact, in May of 2001 it was Bill Graham who said that Canada had a responsibility to do something in Afghanistan after the Taliban destroyed religious statues and citing all the human rights abuse.

    Since then parliamentarians have visited Afghanistan, studied the missions, and heard expert testimony from witnesses. On top of that, the Liberals held a take note debate in November, the Conservatives held another take note-debate in April, and then followed that with a VOTE-debate. The vote was on an extension of the CURRENT mission.

    This doesn't even mention the amount of public scruntiny or the academic debates going on at universities across the country.

    ON TOP OF THAT, we have the Afghan Compact to guide the international effort which was established in January. This sets the goals and guidelines of the international mission.

    So when someone says nothing was discussed about Afghanistan, they are simply distorting the truth.

    When the Liberals voted against the mission, they did so for political reasons. Ignatieff voted FOR the mission because he is one of the few who are willing to step up to the plate and have studied the issue carefully.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 5:10 PM  

  • CG.
    Its funny how debates seem so much to only confirm our preconceptions.
    You thought Kennedy did well, I thought here is a man who can't even hold his own against Volpe and Belquavia. I thought he looked weak and hollow and I thought that those two ripped him a new one. He kept looking away and to the crowd like he wanted saving or help.
    (as an aside someone should tell him that in a debate DON'T look to the audience, focus on your opponents)
    I thought Iggy did fine but I was hoping for more then fine, I was hoping for stellar and it was not there.
    He gave a far better answer to the same question in Calgary today, about 140 people came to hear him at lunch today.
    Bennett and Kennedy tonight as well.
    Calgary is hopping today boy!!!

    By Blogger Aristo, at 5:12 PM  

  • "NATO requested a commitment from Canada and Harper deceptively decided not to reveal that info before the debate"

    Bullshit. It was front page news in the Globe and Mail before the debate started.

    The entire point of the debate was to give the gov't a mandate BEFORE we negotiated a new role.

    The notion that NATO members were going to sort out 2007 and then come back to Parliaments is laughable. Especially from a party that didn't even consult Parliament on the initial engagement.

    Fer' or agin' were honourable responses. The Liberal response was figleaf designed to allow maximum room to pander.

    By Blogger anonymous, at 5:36 PM  

  • I'm also pretty ticked that people are saying there has been no debate on the issue.

    If MP's went in to that debate not knowing anything about Afghanistan, then they were lazy.


    Things have changed in Afghanistan since we first signed on in 2001. Our role is different. Surely more debate than was had is what is needed.

    When the Liberals voted against the mission, they did so for political reasons. Ignatieff voted FOR the mission because he is one of the few who are willing to step up to the plate and have studied the issue carefully.

    Riiiiiiiight because anyone who voted against the resolution was playing politics. Im sorry that some of us arent so eager to agree to an extension with little debate. I am glad to see that many of the leadership candidates have the same view on the matter as me--that we in principle support the mission that began in 2001, but now want to re-evaluate:
    - How successful that mission has been?
    - What are the unintended consequences of the mission that we didnt forsee in 2001?
    - How has Canada's precense in Afghanistan indirectly assisted the US war effort in Iraq?
    - How has the mission changed?

    Unlike Mr. Ignatieff we dont blindly support any and all liberal interventionist mssions.

    I took that to imply that it was his choice and not a hidden attack.

    Thats a weak explanation Ted. Essentially what he said was that other candidates--who voted against the resolution--"chose" not to support the mission or the troops.

    I too am worried about divisions in the party. But it anyone is dividing the party it is the candidate who is adopting the rhetorical tactics of the right--implicitly questioning the patriotism those who oppose the war.

    Unfortunately for us, the list of people who I speak to who have voted Liberal before but would opt not to with a pro-Iraq war ex-pat at the helm continues to grow.

    For those of us whose support of the party is contingent on the party cautious and reluctant approach to the use of military force Ignatieff's candidacy is most disconcerting.

    By Blogger Kyle Carruthers, at 5:44 PM  

  • I still don't see the logic about voting for an extension because troops are dying. It makes for good Rumsfeldian rhetoric but I just can't see the logic. Same thing about "standing with our troops" or "supporting our troops". I don't know how voting to keep them in a dangerous place is "supporting our troops".

    As for the debate, the Dutch parliament had an 8 month debate. We had 6 hours. Yes, perople knew the issues but it would have been good to have some time to share ideas, get a better sense of the mission, get feedback from constituents, that sort of stuff. And considering Harper said he wouldn't respect the vote, the vote was a complete sham.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:46 PM  

  • the 8 month debate the dutch had was in the public sphere, it was in their parliament and it was in the academic community.

    We've essentially had the same thing since we went in in 2001. For kyle who just doesn't seem to read what I write, there has been more than a DOZEN parliamentary reports!!

    Let me run through quickly what I've posted repeatedly....

    - more than a dozen reports since 2001.... as the mission evolved, new reports were submitted.
    - Universities around the country are visited by current military officers who describe the current mission.
    - countless newspaper articles describe the mission, and reporters work alongside military in Afghanistan to report on what happens
    - MP's, Cabinet Ministers, senior beaurocrats and even PM's have visited the region to examine first hand what happens.
    - THREE debates have taken place on the CURRENT mission in Afghanistan. That equals 18 hours of parliamentary debate in the house, and I should try and find you the amount of hours committees have spent on this issue.
    - the vote was on an EXTENSION of the current mission... an EXTENSION. Not a new mission.

    CG you talk about feedback... we had an election. While it wasn't a major issue, it was still on the table. The actual EXTENSION is just a continuation of policy. I myself have sat in on around 4 briefings this year from Canadian military officials, and one even at the U.S. Consulate where I work as an intern. I can assure you Dalhousie is not the only university which military officers speak at.

    I also organized a debate for Alexa McDonough and her opponents in the last election SOLELY on foreign and defence policy. We had several hundred people attend. I selected questions which specifically addressed Afghanistan and ya know what? Every candidate (including Alexa) agreed with the mission. So wouldn't it make sense that an extension of that mission would also warrant agreement?

    My point is that discussions have taken place. It wasn't just a "six hour debate" it's been waged over the past several months and years.

    I took Ignatieff's reason for his vote thusly: The Liberal government sent these soldiers into harm's way for a reason. Since then, soldiers have died including on the day of the vote itself. Because of their sacrifice, I can't in good conscious vote against a mission to which I support, and to which several soldiers have perished. Their sacrifice was not in vain and by voting against the mission which our party supported from the start, you are essentially saying Goddard's sacrifice is no longer valued.

    That is not Rumsfeldian logic and I don't know why we have to CONTINUE to compare Canadian leaders to U.S. politicians.

    Again sorry for the rant but this is an issue very dear to me.

    Also CG, thanks so much for visiting my site I am really honoured you'd take the time! Your site rocks even when I disagree.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 6:16 PM  

  • "And considering Harper said he wouldn't respect the vote, the vote was a complete sham"

    Wrong CG.

    He said if he'd didn't get the mandate to negotiate an expanded role he'd inform our allies and plan for full withdrawal no later than Feb. 2008.

    Feb. 2007 was the date the current role expired. You are all pretending that extension or non-extension are
    pretty much the same, but the proper date for informing NATO we're out at Feb. 2007 passed with your guy as PM.

    Harper's 1st take was to carry on beyond with as many votes as were held by the Liberals.

    However when it became clear NATO was looking to double and open to Canada succeeding Britain in the lead role, returning to Parliament became advisable.

    If you want to know why many months weren't spent discussing this in committee ask Bill Graham and his old boss.

    By Blogger anonymous, at 6:18 PM  

  • "Things have changed in Afghanistan since we first signed on in 2001"

    Staring with two Liberal prime ministers and an interim Liberal leader.

    When the house finally gets its first vote on the long overdue question of years 6 and 7 all we get is whining and excuses.

    By Blogger anonymous, at 6:23 PM  

  • For kyle who just doesn't seem to read what I write, there has been more than a DOZEN parliamentary reports!!

    A report is not a debate. I can read a report, but until I talk about what that report means with someone else valuable information is missed.

    - the vote was on an EXTENSION of the current mission... an EXTENSION. Not a new mission.

    That is too simplistic to be true. It is the same mission, but it has transformed. It is no coincidence that people started dying in Afghanistan in significant numbers in the past several months.



    I took Ignatieff's reason for his vote thusly: The Liberal government sent these soldiers into harm's way for a reason. Since then, soldiers have died including on the day of the vote itself. Because of their sacrifice, I can't in good conscious vote against a mission to which I support, and to which several soldiers have perished

    Thats all fine and good. Ignatieff is entitled to his vote. I dont agree with that vote, but he is entitled to it. What he is not entitled to is to disparage his opponents with this kind of crap that you seem to have repeated: by voting against the mission which our party supported from the start, you are essentially saying Goddard's sacrifice is no longer valued.

    That is the kind of nonsense that the American right feeds to its citizenry. If that kind of reasoning dictated government policy the US would still be in Vietnam!

    By Blogger Kyle Carruthers, at 6:31 PM  

  • Kyle, the Liberals sent our troops to act as a stabilizing force in southern Afghanistan. It is under the US Operation Enduring Freedom, which we assume command of until it is absorbed in July by NATO command. Keep in mind we will still be in control of the region at that point as well.

    In that mission, laid out in November of 2005, we were to provide stability, combat enemy forces trying to undermine reconstruction efforts and to provide security for NGO's attempting to work there. It was noted that this was a risky mission with the chance of casualties. It was a dangerous mission that the Liberals told us we would rise to.

    So kyle, please tell me how this mission has changed. How we are taking on some new role I am unaware of, and how it has transformed.

    I keep hearing about this "transformation" but I'm waiting to be enlightened.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 6:59 PM  

  • Riley,

    But there was no vote in November 2005 (at least to my recollection). Unfortunately the government at the time was of the belief that military affairs are the sole prerogative of the executive (which technically it is--but the law, and what is right are not always in symmetry). This is the first time that there has been a vote on this new mission. The flaw in your reasoning is in assuming that I support everything the past Liberal government did.

    Regardless of whether or not the debate was needed, or whether this was a vote on an extension or on a new mission the point remains--Mr. Ignatieff resorted to the tactics of the American right to attack the patriotism of his fellow leadership contenders.

    By Blogger Kyle Carruthers, at 7:26 PM  

  • Kyle,

    You said "That is too simplistic to be true. It is the same mission, but it has transformed." I want to know how it has transformed from when the Liberals sent us in to Khandahar in November of 2005.

    There is no flaw in my reasoning cause I am just asking how the mission has transformed from what I stated in my post above. If you won't answer, I'd like someone else to. I'm tired of hearing how it has "transformed" without anyone backing it up.

    So either say that the mission was simply an extension of current policy, which had been studied, debated and dissected through committee reports, committee discussions, parliamentary debate, cabinet debate, public debate through universities, newspapers, public policy debates (like the one I organized) and an election OR tell me how it has transformed.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 7:50 PM  

  • You say how the mission has transformed yourself:"when the Liberals sent us in to Khandahar in November of 2005".

    By Blogger Kyle Carruthers, at 7:59 PM  

  • By the way, as this is in good spirit, I love how more policy gets discussed on the calgary grit's blog than in a 3 hour televised debate.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 8:04 PM  

  • typical fear-monger.

    You say the mission transformed yet you can't back it up. I said that the vote was an extension of the same mission we've had since the Liberals sent us there (there being Khandahar). You said that it it had transformed. I asked how, now you are backing out.

    QUEL SURPRIZE!

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 8:14 PM  

  • Better a fearmonger than a warmonger.

    Moving CF to Kandahar IS a change in the mission. It is a more hostile, more visible environment, that is more likely to spur domestic terrorist attacks. Deaths of Canadian forces have risen substantially. The battle has changed!

    Furthermore. even if the mission HASNT changed (which it has) it is certainly the right of the other Liberal leadership contenders to say that we need to re-evaluate what has gone on over the last almost 5 years without having their patriotism questioned by a guy who has lived outside this country for the last 25 years.

    You are steering this discussion off track. My point was not that Ignatieff's yes vote was wrong (even though I think it was). It was that he had no right to imply that the other candidates were unpatriotic for voting no.

    By Blogger Kyle Carruthers, at 8:29 PM  

  • What Ignatieff was essentially saying...

    That is right up there with saying that because his declaration of opposition to toture wasn't long enough, he must therefore support torture. As if there was something that needs to be added to a "No."

    Ignatieff said he stood by the mission...which is standing by all the reasons for the mission....preventing a return of the Taliban, improving the lot of the Afghanis, etc....those things that don't fit into a 90 second answer.

    As for the bit about supporting the troops...it would be nice if there was one time when someone could say that without someone else jumping up and accusing him or her of playing politics....but I digress.

    Ignatieff said he voted yes because he supports the troops...now I don't know what goes on in his head...but for me, supporting the troops involves recognizing both their sacrafice (the flags and the funerals) and the gravity of their mission (the idea that what they are doing there matters not just to the Afghanis, but to Canadians as well)

    For other people...supporting the troops means bringing back as many as possible. But to accuse someone of attempting to attack others by making what is, for him, a deeply personal choice is to cheapen the whole debate.

    By Blogger Small Town Shyster, at 10:43 PM  

  • Quite worthwhile piece of writing, thanks for the article.

    By Anonymous muebles avila, at 2:25 PM  

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