Since the outset of the election, the situation in Afghanistan has grown volatile and been a dominating issue on the campaign trail. Following a week of statements, questions and demands by the leaders of the Conservative Party, the NDP, the Bloc and the Greens, the government provided the first confirmation that they are working on getting Canadians and Afghans out of the country (https://bit.ly/3y5VDYp). Moreover, we can expect Liberal leader Justin Trudeau to join other G7 leaders virtually today to discuss what more can be and must be done to quell the confusion and chaos at the Kabul airport and across Afghanistan.
But is enough being done on the ground in Kabul and will the government’s handling of the situation affect the campaign? Let’s find out…
From the desk of Lt.-Gen. (ret'd) Hon. Andrew Leslie
Afghanistan is an old place, strewn with Mountains where the winds and warriors have worn many down to dust, while others are still razor-sharp and dangerous to the touch. Much like the local political dynamics, dominated as they are by tribal tensions, religious extremists, brigands, meddlesome neighbours, helpful internationalists, political idealists, soldiers from dozens of nations, farmers, aid workers and artists. Over the last three millennia many armies have entered Afghanistan with surprising ease, and then been astonished to find that their presence unites huge numbers of the previously warring locals into temporary alliances whose aim is to exhaust the invaders; and they are then experienced enough clever enough to not get in the way of their subsequent retreat, followed by looting and pillaging the camps of the recently departed.
The announced withdrawal of U.S. Forces in early April 2021 surprised nobody who was paying attention and alarmed even fewer because most of them had given up wanting to care. Twenty years of blood and treasure lost in what appeared to be a never-ending war had numbed all but a few, and the dramatic advances in the rights and local opportunities for women and girls were quietly dismissed as not worth fighting for by those Nations who left quicker than most, of which Canada was one of the first.
For years, the U.S. had implored friends and allies to do more in terms of contributing to mutual defence and international peace and security operations, but only a rare few had answered the call (the U.K and France). Canada made all sorts of promises about re-equipping and spending lots more on defence, but we didn’t do much. We did take part in several very minor U.N. or NATO missions, but they were not overly complicated or dangerous. Facing an increasing domestic clamour to stop fighting everybody else’s wars,
President Biden indicated that the U.S. timeline was immutable, and the local Afghan warlords knew they could activate the same plan that has always worked so well in tears gone by. Sting the enemy just enough to pain him and encourage his departure, but not enough to get him to recommit additional troops or firepower to hunt down and destroy the irritants.
And so the scene was set for the rushed and abrupt collapse of the Afghan Army, the local government, and the scramble for the last desperate few to get out of Kabul before the new warlords (who are neither new or true warlord) lost all constraints and revealed their true colours as the ruthless of religious extremists whose brutality towards women and girls is without equal.
From the desk of Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant
It’s been said that foreign affairs don’t drive Canadian elections, and there’s a lot of truth to that. But that’s not always the case. When it does change, it’s a matter of events happening at the same time as a campaign. The most recent example was the death of Alan Kurdi, and the image of him lying dead on a Turkish beach after his family tried to flee the Syrian Civil War.
Syria was not on the agenda during the 2015 campaign but after that moment, Canadians demanded that their next government help those refugees. While that issue didn’t determine the result, it can be argued that Justin Trudeau’s response to that issue did make an impact on it. It spoke to how we Canadians see ourselves and how we generally are supportive global citizens.
This time we’re seeing a similar moment, with the fall of Afghanistan. However, in this case, Canadians have a much greater role. Many Canadians lost their lives fighting the Taliban and now as they assert control, many are rightly asking how we’re getting those Afghans who risked their lives working with us to safety. The chaos that we’ve seen this week does not give a good answer and leaves the Liberals in a vulnerable position. The Conservatives and NDP have pressed for answers, but they also must be careful about how they do; no one wants to play politics with an unfolding humanitarian crisis. While Canadians won’t likely cast their ballot based on what happens in Kabul, they’re likely to consider how this moment makes them feel. We’re not a people who “cut and run”, leaving our allies in the lurch. To see such a situation playing out does not sit well with many Canadians & could further sour the mood of an already stressed electorate.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced that if re-elected they will eliminate the health care waitlists, hire 7,500 family doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners, and expand virtual care.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole announced in Ottawa his party’s plan to “ensure the needs of Canadian workers are being addressed by having a seat on the boards of directors.” The details of this platform plank can be found on pg43 of the party’s campaign plan.
From Montreal, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh denounced the Liberal “climate failure” and committed to eliminating “subsidies to Big Oil.” Further details of the NDP climate plan can be found within the party platform.
Green party leader Annamie Paul spoke out against the toxic culture of Parliament.
ELECTION FACT CHECK PROJECT – The Toronto Star launches this new initiative to keep Canadians informed and hold leaders accountable ahead of voting day. First up…Green Party leader Annamie Paul https://bit.ly/3Dl3KEn
THANK YOU MOM - NDP leader puts out another video on social media…this time it talks about his biggest influence.
DEBATE QUESTIONS – we are LOL over this post and will be looking to see if these questions are actually asked
MINISTER’S MANIPULATED MEDIA – Trudeau defends Freeland’s tweet and Conservatives request an investigation by Elections Canada
Here is where you can expect the leaders to be today (all times in Eastern):
Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada will be in Hamilton and make an announcement at 8 am.
Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada remains in Ottawa, where he will make an announcement and hold a media availability at 10 am. In the evening, we will hold virtual town halls with Quebec and B.C. residents.
Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP starts his day in Mississauga where he will make an announcement on long-term care at 10:30 am. In the afternoon, he will meet Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and local candidates at a campaign stop in Hamilton before meeting with Essex candidate Tracey Ramsey’s campaign office in Amherstburg.
Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada will hold a press conference at 10 am on affordable housing with Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner in Winchester Park in Toronto.
Yves Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois will hold a press conference at 10 am about Health Canada and herbicides on a farm in Pont-Rouge. Then at 2 pm, he will hold another press conference on Indigenous issues in Wendake.
Vice President Geoff Turner also appeared on CTV News Channel’s True North Panel
Consultant Cameron Holmstrom was heard and seen on
Political Pulse panel on CTV News Channel
About Bluesky Strategy Group
Bluesky Strategy Group Inc. is a full-service public affairs firm with nearly two decades of extensive experience working with clients - from corporate, not-for-profit, and national associations, to governments, departments and agencies. We provide our clients with government relations, strategic communications and media relations advice and execution. Bluesky’s team can help you. Reply to this email to be connected with our team.