It looks like the Liberals and Conservatives have finally worked together to come up with a clear and consistent policy for the rest of the mandate in Afghanistan. Under the current plan Canadian troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2011. NATO will send an additional 1000 troops to supplement the Canadian forces already fighting in Kandahar. Additional equipment such as helicopters and surveillance vehicles will be provided to protect soldiers from IEDs. Troops will try to focus on rebuilding and helping the Afghan people. When fighting is required they will defend civilians and themselves from enemy attacks.
This compromise narrows down the choices on what can be a very confusing issue. There are two clear Canadian approaches to Afghanistan. There is the Liberal/Conservative approach. One of these parties will be in power in 2009 when the current mandate ends. There is the NDP/BQ/Green Party position of bringing our troops home as soon as possible. This will leave the next government with a clear mandate on how to proceed.
It also bolds well for both parties when the writ is finally dropped. The Conservatives will be less hampered by claims that their policy on Afghanistan is simply following George W. Bush foreign policy. The Liberals will get to trumpet that they have finally acted like the Official Opposition in a minority government and helped shape government policy. The Liberals have already begun to demand that the government bring back the Clean Air Act. Both parties can focus their campaigns on domestic policy that is more important to the day to day life of the average Canadian.
The biggest winner is the Canadian military. They will be receiving much needed resourcing to effectively continue rebuilding efforts. Keeping soldiers safe will help increase public support for the mission they are carrying out.