Capt Nichola Goddard - Stand Easy!
Capt. Goddard was killed while Canadian troops were supporting Afghan security forces in an operation against the Taliban, who had massed in the district.Hundreds of Canadian troops are involved in the clash, which was one of the biggest firefights since the arrival of the 2,300 Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
Later tonite, the House of Commons in Canada votes whether to extend Canadian troops in Afghanistan for another two years. NATO has asked Canada to take command of the entire Afghan mission starting in 2008.
"We will not forget her sacrifice," General David Fraser, the Canadian officer in charge of the multinational brigade in Kandahar, told a Globe and Mail reporter stationed in Kandahar.
The best way to honor Capt Goddard's sacrifice and the sacrifice of 17 Canadians killed in Afghanistan since 2002 is for Canada to continuing this mission.
Marcus Gee asks "Will Canada stand up for the values it epouses or not?"
For years, our representatives have stood at podiums around the world to preach Canada's commitment to peace, democracy, justice, women's rights and a better deal for the poor. Afghanistan is the place to put our money where our mouth is. If we shirk our duty there, then all the fine speeches about how "the world needs more Canada" are nothing but talk.
Canada's mission has two aims: The first is to help Afghans rebuild their country and create a working representative government. The second is to repel those, like the Taliban, who seek to derail that effort and put the country in medieval chains again.
Opinion polls show that many Canadians would prefer to do the first part and leave the second to someone else. Is that the kind of country we are, a country that talks big about promoting peace, justice and stability but ducks out of the room when a bully walks in? Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn't think so. In his ringing defence of the Afghan mission, delivered during his visit to Kandahar in March, he said Canada does not "make a commitment and then run away at the first sign of trouble." If we want to play a constructive role in the world, we have to stop "carping from the sidelines" and get in the game, with all the dangers that entails. As Mr. Harper put it, "you can't lead from the bleachers."Yet, that is where Canada often sits, lecturing with great eloquence about the need for goodwill among men but seldom risking Canadian lives to advance it. We played a backup role in the 1991 Persian Gulf war and a support role in the 2001 campaign to unseat the Taliban and al-Qaeda. We stayed out of the Iraq war altogether. Now, for a change, Canadians are on the front lines. It's about time!
This is not about proving our manhood. We're not in Afghanistan to show off our military prowess or to curry favour with the United States. We're there because peacekeeping, mediation and diplomacy can't solve every problem. We're there because, sometimes, evil must be resisted with force, a lesson Canada learned in two world wars.
I know we can do this mission in Afghanistan....Canadian troops are well trained and have learned to adapt quickly to fight a counter insurgency war; they are ready, able and willing to continue in the mission. But I am afraid that the emotional impact of her death will render a decision against our further involvement. As tragic as any death in war is, it would be more tragic if the opposition parties vote not to extend the Canadian mission.
The vote is about to begin shortly, but let me be clear, there will be no equivocation with this Prime Minister. If Harper loses the vote, then he will extend our commitment for one more year, and when the year is up, he will turn the question over to the Canadian people by holding an election. Stephen Harper will not back down on Canada's commitment to fight terrorism!
Capt Nichola Goddard - Stand Easy!
Update: The vote came in....149 to 145 to continue our mission in Afghanistan. The vote was close ONLY because many simply chose to vote against Stephen Harper, NOT against our mission. This means that inspite of the close vote Canada's leaders remain supportive and committed to our mission in Afghanistan, and to our part in the War on Terrorism!
Update II: (Afghan) president (Karzai) expressed particular anguish over the death of the Canadian soldier, Capt. Nichola Goddard, who died Wednesday in a battle with Taliban attackers in Kandahar. "Our land is being protected by a lady from Canada, when we should be protecting her as a guest," he said.