The latest clash of differences between the leader of Canada’s government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the leader of Canada’s military, Rick Hillier should be of grave concern to all Canadians. The recent Throne Speech indicated that it would take until 2011 to complete the training of Afghanistan’s military. Hillier has argued that it will take at least five years longer than the date set out in the Throne Speech. Hillier believes it will take at least ten years to build a national army that can defend the government against insurgents and potential external threats. Further, he argues that these matters cannot be achieved overnight and that it will take time with the involvement of the international community before you've got an Afghanistan government that works effectively. It could be argued that our own Canadian government is not working effectively and we have been working on that since 1867. Rick Hillier’s differences with Prime Minister Stephen Harper would suggest he agrees our own government is not effective and that Harper is wrong about how long it should take to train Afghanistan troops.
My position on the differences between the leader of our government and the leader of our military is crystal clear. Our democratic system of government elected our government and I trust that our government, and only our government, makes decisions on important matters of foreign policy. It is our government we should trust to make the final decisions as to when we go to war, how we are engaged in that war and when we decide to bring our troops home. These are not decisions that should be made by the leader of our military. It would be a tragic day for Canada if it were run by the military. In the end, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is Canada’s top soldier. If Hillier wants to be the top dog in this country I suggest he get out of the military and run for elected office. In this regard, he may find Canadian voters are tougher than the Taliban.
I respectfully suggest that we all trust in our Prime Minister to make the tough decisions we expect of our government. Further, the opposition parties in the House of Commons are dead wrong to trust Hillier’s assessment over that of our government. You have to question who wants our troops to stay longer in Afghanistan and who wants them home in a timely manner. You have to question who wants peace and who wants war. All the opposition parties are standing with General Rick Hillier against Prime Minister Stephen Harper on this issue. I stand with my Prime Minister and my government. Where do you stand?