154 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan
In August 2006, the Council of Canadians issued a statement calling for the immediate, safe and orderly withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan. At that point, 20 Canadian soldiers had been killed in the war. In March 2008, after the deaths of 79 Canadian soldiers, we opposed the House of Commons vote to extend the war past 2009 and into 2011. The war in Afghanistan has now claimed the lives of 154 Canadian soldiers, affected numerous more with life-altering physical injuries and mental traumas, and will cost an estimated $18.1 billion. It is a war that has claimed the lives of thousands of Afghans, hundreds of coalition soldiers, and has left the country less secure for development work.
An April 2010 EKOS poll found that 60 percent of Canadians do not support extending Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan past July 2011. This 60 percent figure shows a steady increase in support for the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan. An Ipsos Reid poll in July 2009 found that 52 percent of Canadians wanted the troops home at the end of this mission. A January 2008 poll showed 37 percent support for this position. And yet despite this, the Harper government confirmed late last year that Canada will maintain about 950 military personnel in Afghanistan for another three years in a ‘training role’.
In their book The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar, political scientist Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang write that General Rick Hillier pushed for Canadian troops in Kandahar to impress the Pentagon and then-U.S. president George W. Bush. Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin has written that, “A former, highly placed Defence Department official (says) the reason the Liberals took up the mission was not out of any great noble purpose. It was principally because they had no choice. They had to appease Washington for not having joined the invasion of Iraq.”
The Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter of the Council of Canadians has produced a new brochure, Canada In Afghanistan: War Is Not The Answer. To read that brochure, please go to http://canadians.org/peace/documents/Canada-Afghanistan.pdf.