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Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan Recognized

Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan Recognized in the Senate (March 5, 2008)

Debates of the Senate
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize and thank the members of the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan chaired by the Honourable John Manley with the able assistance of Derek Burney, the Honourable Jake Epp, the Honourable Paul Tellier and Pamela Wallin.

The value and worth of the final report, its recommendations and insights are a testament to the quality and tenacity of the individuals involved. They took personal risks and worked tirelessly to provide parliamentarians and, more importantly, the Canadian public with a clear and eminently understandable assessment of the situation and challenge that currently prevails in Afghanistan.

Their no-nonsense evaluation of Canada’s contribution now and in the future, our accomplishments to date and the vital steps we must take on an ongoing basis provide a solid Canadian even-handedness to the most complicated of situations, which in turn has provided Canada, Canadians and our NATO allies with a road map to move forward.

This non-partisan report did not take sides. It was equally critical of all the major players: the government in Afghanistan and its tolerance of corruption; NATO partners and their up-until-now unwillingness to share the burden more extensively in the South; the demand that was issued in the report for another 1,000 forces to complement Canadian operations in the South; and in its criticism of the Canadian government for not providing franker and more frequent updates to Canadians as to our successes and progress in Afghanistan.

This frank assessment was our wake-up call. We were not unaware of our difficulties; however, the Manley report succeeded in “un-muddying” the waters for us all.

Those of us in day-to-day politics who pride ourselves on being current and able to form knowledgeable opinions owe much to the Manley panel members who, while otherwise engaged with more than full careers, accepted the call and took up the challenge of their mission. Thanks to them and their hard work, the opinions on the Hill and the opinions of the Canadian public are definitively more informed, more reasonable and more focused on the complicated topic that is Afghanistan.

The effects of the report have been positive on all sides. Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the other place took this report to heart, did not dismiss it out of hand and suggested thoughtful amendments which were, in part, taken up by the government. The Liberals should be commended for recognizing the validity and common sense of the recommendations as set out by the Manley panel, as should the government. The panel sought a Canadian solution, not a Conservative or a Liberal solution.

As a government and as a country we are more understanding of our role in Afghanistan, our successes thus far, where improvement and support are needed, and the reality of our role going forward.

All of us, including the troops in the field, owe a debt of gratitude to Messrs. Manley, Burney, Epp, Tellier and Ms. Wallin for their work.