Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Surprise! Did you miss me?

Stephen Harper made a surprise visit to Afghanistan yesterday amid tight security - probably to protect him from the press except for a hand-picked embedded bunch that traveled with him.

I imagine he was as welcome as the grim reaper at a wedding.

Why all the security, I wonder? Hardly anybody knows who the guy is, and certainly couldn't be bothered to attack him. But maybe it makes him feel important.

This report from Sun Media gives some details. I have a feeling that the following quotes are the real reason for the Afghanistan junket.

...[S]pokesmen for Harper described the unannounced trip as a ‘progress review’ of the NATO-led mission and rejected questions of the whirlwind trip being an attempt to bolster support for the mission or the Conservative party as both face stalled or flagging support in recent public opinion polls.

...[T]he visit comes at a time when Canadian support for the mission has flagged amidst doubt that progress is being made in beating the Taliban and reconstructing the country.

...[A] recent poll found 60% of Canadians surveyed want Canada out of the mission even before the end of its current commitment to 2009.

...[A]t the same time, public support for the Conservatives appears stalled at levels at or below last January’s election result that handed Harper a minority government.
But exactly how is this going to bolster support?

There was a visit to a school for street kids in Kabul that is supported by about $40,000 of Canadian money. How much did the Afghanistan junket cost, I wonder? Many multiples of $40,000, I bet.

But this comes at a time when some aboriginal people in Canada are living on toxic reserves without proper schools or safe drinking water. The Kelowna Accords, hammered out for years between the Liberal government and First Nations, which looked like they might finally get land claims settled in Canada, were scrapped by the incoming Harperites. Why? Because it wasn't their accord, and we all know that they are the only people capable of doing anything in Canada.

Now the Conservatives and the Indian Affairs minister say they are going to hand the whole thing over to an independent body to settle. Excuse me, guys, but that's what you're being paid for, not to make surprise visits to Afghanistan.

Mind you, with the poisonous atmosphere in Ottawa these last few months, when control-freakery was running wild, Afghanistan probably looked like a walk in the park for Stevie and the boys.

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