Thursday, March 16, 2006

Canada gets a leader

The difference an election makes.
Say this for Stephen Harper. Unlike Paul Martin, he knows why he wants to be prime minister. He didn't run for the job just to get the job.

Harper's decision to make his first foreign trip as PM a surprise, morale-boosting visit to our troops in Kandahar is a bold statement of how he intends to redefine Canada's place in the world, post-9/11.

No longer will our military be viewed at home or abroad simply as "peacekeepers." Instead, they will be peacemakers, fighting and killing those who threaten Canadian security, values and interests abroad, while carrying out the tough job of "nation-building."

This is the difficult balancing act our soldiers are attempting in Kandahar -- meeting Taliban insurgents with deadly force while trying to win the trust of the civilian population by establishing the secure conditions under which humanitarian aid ("reconstruction") can begin.

Harper stated this vision in his speech to our soldiers when he told them Canada "can't lead from the bleachers."
Good job by the PM. Oh, and he spent the night.
"These are a great bunch of men and women who are doing a tough job and I'm going to make sure they understand their government [supports them]."

The Prime Minister is expected to address the troops Monday and officially tour the base where he stayed Sunday night. Mr. Harper planned to share lunch with Forces personnel Monday. Canada has 2,200 soldiers here.
A very good write up by John from Argghhh, but I do have one little different take than he has on General Hillier, great that he went and all...but....
Canada's top soldier was helping with work on the ground in Afghanistan Friday when a roadside bomb went off just 800 metres from where he was chatting with a village elder.

Gen. Rick Hillier, the chief of the defence staff, was whisked away in an armoured vehicle. A U.S. Blackhawk helicopter picked him up from the army's forward operating base in Gumbad, and took him to Kandahar.
The village elder, I am sure, was not impressed. 800 metres, no danger. Sigh.

That is just bad form, especially in that part of the world. It would have done everyone a bit better if he had taken a lesson from Patton and shrugged it off (his security guy must have had a hissy-fit); instead - he reminds me of a song.

The good thing, he made Prime Minister Harper look even stronger.

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