kingston & the islands' NDP Blog

Saturday, December 10, 2005

What the NDP has to say about foreign policy

Barbara McDougall's editorial in the Saturday Whig-Standard complains that none of the three major parties has much to say about foreign policy and defense. I don't know about the Liberals and Conservatives, but when it comes to the NDP, she couldn't be more wrong. Here's all Barbara McDougall has to say about the NDP's foreign policy platform: "The NDP's website gives the nod to peace, with a passing reference to support for the United Nations and other forms of multilateralism. Not much to make a meal of..." I asked Rob about the NDP's policy platform, and he set me straight. The NDP platform doesn't just "give the nod to peace," it supports peacekeeping, and specifically, peacekeeping under the auspices of the UN. This is an important distinction. Under the Liberals, Canada's peacekeeping involvement is largely not on UN missions but on NATO-led missions -- giving the US a much larger say in Canadian peacekeeping missions. The NDP also doesn't support sending more Canadians to Afghanistan (another NATO-led mission). Jack Layton laid this out in this statement on Thursday. "We appear to be drifting from our original mission there – which was to provide security in the capital region – and into a combat role side-by-side with American troops," says Jack. Indeed, Rob told me about the Canadian forces' role in offensive operations, not just peacekeeping, in Afghanistan. The JTF2 is Canada's equivalent of the Rangers or the SAS, and they were part of commando operations in Afghanistan as part of a joint operation with the US, the UK and four other nations. They took part in offensive operations that included killing at least 115 Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders. I'm not saying it was wrong to depose the Taliban, but this is a far cry from the kind of peacekeeping activities that most Canadians think our troops are carrying out in Afghanistan. Remember, Canada is not officially at war with Afghanistan. "If Paul Martin wants to involve Canada directly in a war in Afghanistan, then he must spell out what our goals are, what our commitments will be, and when and how we will get out. We then require a real national debate, and a clear democratic decision taken by Parliament," says Jack. And a committment to UN-led peacekeeping isn't the only plank in the NDP's policy platform. Foreign aid is just as important. In a speech to Parliament this Feburary, Jack Layton explained, "We welcome the investment in peacekeeping, but foreign aid prevents conflicts that peacekeeping is then later required to solve. They go hand in hand." Foreign aid is a major plank in the NDP's platform. Under Liberal governance, our committment to foreign aid has declined disgracefully. In 1992, Canada committed to boost our foreign aid to .7% of GDP. After 11 solid years of Liberal majority governments, our foreign aid had fallen instead of rising -- from .44% of GDP (1993) to .26% (2004). That's about half the 1993 level. And Paul Martin still won't commit to boost aid to the level promised, even though Parliament passed an NDP motion this year directing him to do so. So, it's just plain wrong to say that the NDP doesn't have much to say about foreign policy and defense. We have a lot to say -- and it makes sense.

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