The federal government has created a panel to review Canada’s role in Afghanistan beyond the current mandate.
Former Liberal MP and deputy prime minister John Manley was appointed chair of the five-person committee.
The other members of the panel are Derek Burney, former ambassador to the United States and chief of staff to former prime minister Brian Mulroney; former clerk of the Privy Council Paul Tellier; former Conservative cabinet minister Jake Epp, who served in both Joe Clark’s and Mulroney’s governments, and Pamela Wallin, former journalist and Canada’s former consul general in New York.
Manley’s position in the Liberal Party will doubtless be trumpeted as proof this committee is nonpartisan and independent. As Stephen Harper expressed it at his news conference: “I am pleased to announce the formation of an independent panel of eminent Canadians who will consider our options and provide expert non-partisan advice that will help parliamentarians make our decision.”
Independent? Nonpartisan? Where are the members of the Bloc Quebecois? Where are the New Democrats?
From here it looks like a committee set up to tell Harper what he wants to hear.
Manley’s position is indistinguishable from that of Mr. Harper. Early in 2002, an interview with Manley was posted on Mapleleafweb which is pretty revealing. For Manley, the “military action in Afghanistan is an act of self-defence . . .”.
Harper has said many times over the past while that he wants to maintain Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2009. Don’t be surprised if this committee tells him exactly what he wants to hear.