By the time you are reading this, I will be returning home from one week in Afghanistan. As the Chair of the House of Commons Special Committee on Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan, I have been working for the past few weeks preparing our committee’s travel to witness first-hand what we have been studying. As the former Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, I spent considerable time presiding over meetings on Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan, and I signed and tabled that Committee’s Report to the House. The Special Committee was created shortly thereafter.
Canada’s military mission will end by June 2011. The completion date for our efforts in this regard was established by a motion passed in the House of Commons in 2008. Our Special Committee wants to be of assistance in preparing for this end date, and studying the aftermath.
The Special Committee has not travelled to Afghanistan since its formation in the spring of 2008. Yet, this committee has conducted hearings into numerous issues that have arisen during the mission ranging from Afghan governmental development and legislative issues to the continued emancipation struggle of women. Canadians have benefited from the information and evidence brought forward and shared vis-a-vis our committee’s hearings and reports.
Many nations are working together in Afghanistan to try and raise that nation to a point where it can function on its own. Since 2002, much progress has been made and there are many successes. There is a great deal more to be done and there are limits on what the international community can contribute. At some point Afghanistan will have to take advantage of the help it has received and go forward with increasing autonomy. The nations working there have tried their best to leave Afghanistan with a strong military, police services, a legal system, educational facilities, and numerous other features that will help Afghanistan society function.
Most of all, the job that needed to be done in Afghanistan was fighting terrorism. Afghanistan’s progress as a nation was stifled by the persecution of numerous groups of people in that land and the dictatorial and violent control over it. Once the violence spread to the West in 2001, the world responded by going to Afghanistan and helping its citizens deal with the roots of the problems. This was done at the United Nations’ invitation as well as the new Afghanistan government.
Just prior to leaving for Afghanistan, I delivered a Members’ Statement in the House saluting our troops for their efforts under the constant dangers they face in that nation. I also assisted Defence Minister Peter Mackay by speaking in the lengthy late night debate in the House that dealt with the Department’s budgetary estimates. I am looking forward to meeting many of the 2,800 Canadians who are performing the difficult hands-on work of Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan. I will shake their hands and thank them for their selfless and seemingly tireless efforts on our behalf. I will assure them of our prayers for God’s protection and mercy.
Kevin Sorenson is the Member of Parliament for Crowfoot