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CLC Statement on Afghanistan

DELEGATES AT PAST conventions of the Canadian Labour Congress have adopted policy statements and resolutions repeatedly reaffirming the conviction that Peace is an integral part of the labour movement?s ongoing struggle for social and economic justice.

Reflecting the fundamental values of Canadian working people and Canadians in general, we have clearly established our repugnance for all acts of terrorism and aggression. At the same time, we have consistently maintained that our efforts towards establishing sustainable peace everywhere must take place within the broad multilateral framework of the United Nations.

Canada, until recently, enjoyed a long and respected tradition of support and commitment to United Nations' peacekeeping initiatives. Yet today, that commitment by our governments has diminished, if not vanished. Canada's traditional and respected role of peacekeepers has been overshadowed by our current and changing role in Afghanistan.

In 2003, Canadians clearly opposed the call to arms against Iraq. It was our opposition and mobilization which moved Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to resist the pressure of the Bush administration to join in the invasion of Iraq. Yet Canada, in a decision made by the Paul Martin government, and supported by the present conservative government of Stephen Harper, has moved beyond the NATO mission of humanitarian relief and peacekeeping to an active combat role in support of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan. In so doing, our government has put Canadian troops in harm's way in an unprecedented manner. We, as all Canadians, mourn the deaths of soldiers killed in the line of duty. We commend the courage and bravery of all the men and women serving in Afghanistan. We support their need to be properly equipped to ensure their protection on this dangerous mission.

We do not, however, accept the argument that Canadian presence is intended to bring democracy to the people of Afghanistan. Nor do we accept the premise that our presence is intended to put Afghanistan on the road to sustainable development or improve women's equality in that country. We reject the argument that our presence in Afghanistan will indirectly protect our safety here at home.

We remain convinced that the initiatives by a few to impose solutions on citizens of the world have been, and will continue to be doomed to fail. Instead, we urge our government to:

  • take the necessary measures to ensure the safe and immediate withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan;

  • increase significantly our resource and financial commitments to UN-led multilateral peacekeeping and humanitarian initiatives such as in Darfur;

  • strengthen developmental aid to Afghanistan so that reconstruction efforts are achieved and engage civil society in developmental programs fostering good governance, and respecting human rights, gender equality and internationally recognized core labour standards;

  • ensure any future deployment of Canadian troops is debated and voted on by the representatives of the citizens of Canada in the House of Commons.

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