NDP Leader Jack Layton called for an immediate halt to sending more Canadian troops to Afghanistan, warning that Canada must not "drift into a war blindly." "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," Layton said in a statement.
Layton's announcement follows NATO's approval of a plan to send up to 6,000 troops into southern Afghanistan in a major expansion of their mission. "We must not drift into a war blindly or secretly, on the say-so of one man – Mr. Martin."
"Canadians need to have a debate on whether they want Canadian service personnel to become deeply involved in an initiative that's pressed forward by (U.S. President) George Bush," said Layton at a campaign stop in St. John's, N.L. As many as 1,250 Canadian soldiers will be serving in Afghanistan by February 2006. Troops are expected to take part in combat patrols in the mountainous country surrounding Kandahar. Defence Minister Bill Graham has been warning the public for months to expect casualties.
"We believe the prime minister owes Canadians an explanation of the goals of this mission, of the commitments we would be making and of what the withdrawal plan there would be and then there should be a discussion in Parliament," Layton said, reports CBC. I.L.