By Joyce Green
On August 16, the world saw Afghanistan fall to the Taliban, city after city, and ultimately the collapse of the government and the flight of its president.
The Canadians had supported a mission in Afghanistan that spanned the years 2001-2014. During this time, Canadian troops fulfilled government commitments to improve Afghan political capacity and civil society, in particular the rights of the no one, especially for women and girls. This was of course not just altruistic: Canada was motivated by a Western focus on terrorist organizations. Our presence in Afghanistan was aimed at eliminating any political threat from the Taliban by strengthening alternative political capacities.
The troops could not have done their job, nor the army of brave journalists who have dispersed throughout Afghanistan to tell us the stories of the struggle, the politics and the people, without a corollary army of interpreters. , Afghan guides and instructors in the who’s who of the power dynamics in the country. Now this is all trashed.
The gruesome scenes of Afghans, desperate to be taken to Canada, the United States or somewhere safe, culminated with an American plane leaving the tarmack with Afghans hanging from its fuselage, then falling to death.
It didn’t have to be that way.
CBC reporter Carol Off writes a beautiful and heartbreaking book All that we leave behind (2017) detailing her time in Afghanistan, during which she met and befriended an Afghan activist and his family. After Off returned to Canada, she learned that her friend was in imminent danger of being murdered for his activism, which included his participation in a documentary produced by Off. Stephen Harper’s then government refused to facilitate the family’s immigration to Canada as refugees, and Off worked tirelessly until she and others could save a certain’s family. disaster.
If Off could tell the world about it in 2017, winning the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction Finalist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and being a finalist for two other major literary awards in Canada, how the Canadian Government did is he not aware of the grave danger facing those who oppose power and corruption in Afghanistan?
In addition, the Canadian Forces members who returned home took similar stories with them and urged the government to drop the paperwork and do what it takes to bring here the Afghans who have helped Canada and so save their lives and that of their families.
Nothing happened other than the smoke that was blown to us about the regulations, filling out applications and the time it all takes… yada yada.
The leader of the Liberal Party of Canada did not act as Prime Minister to open the bureaucratic path for the humanitarian rescue of the people Canada fought for and who risked their lives to help Canadians in Afghanistan. As these people disembarked from this plane, their desperation and death reflected what Off knew and wrote. Governments may have different priorities, but none are stupid enough not to know the facts of this case and the political context that produces it. Yet little distinguishes Harper and Trudeau’s record from caring for the Afghans who have helped us. Both can be cited for callousness and humanitarian failure – on our behalf.
In this election, the leader of the Liberal Party should answer for this failure on behalf of our country, and at the cost of so many lives and dreams. The same goes for the Conservative leader, a former member of the cabinet and of the Harper government. And Canadians should demand that the Canadian military and public service be given the funds and authority to lead an immediate rescue and provide refuge in Canada to at least some of the brave and suffering Afghans.
– Joyce Green is a writer, political scientist and member of Fair Vote Canada based in Cranbrook