Monday, November 28, 2005

This Garrison is Worth Defending

Here’s a handy little experiment you can perform in order to test the political literacy of Canada’s socialists and social democrats.

First, bear these three things in mind:

1) Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan represents one of the largest military mobilizations in this country’s history. 2) Canada is among the world’s top three contributors of military equipment and expertise to the African Union’s faltering efforts to stem the ongoing genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. 3) In Haiti, Canadian police and Elections Canada officials are working with the United Nations to help Haitians rebuild some democratic capacity from the rubble of their country’s gang-riddled political culture.

Here’s the experiment.

Ask a true-blue New Democratic Party supporter what the NDP’s position is, exactly, on Canada's engagement in Afghanistan, Darfur or Haiti.

Here’s the answer you’re likely to get: Gee. Dunno.

I always find this astonishing. The NDP is Canada’s party of the Left, but on these questions, the NDP has managed to be utterly opaque, or silent, or contradictory, and to many NDP supporters, it doesn’t seem to matter.

Into that intellectual vacuum, Canada’s “anti-war” left has insinuated its own positions, which routinely consist of little more than a) run, and b) hide. If you’re the type that believes liberal democracy, socialism, and international solidarity require rather more robust positions than these, then you will be happy to meet Randall Garrison, the NDP’s candidate in Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca.

Garrison is unafraid to observe that an effective Canadian foreign policy will tend to require a strong military, and he is refreshingly unsatisfied with the substitution of American counterculture pieties for an independent and progressive Canadian foreign policy and military policy.

Garrison is also unafraid to admit that he doesn’t have all the answers. But when he says, “You know, if you were a woman or a gay person, what happened in Afghanistan wasn’t a war of occupation. It was a liberation,” then right away, you should recognize him as somebody who deserves to be taken seriously.

He’s also shown that he isn’t afraid of the heavy lifting involved in building peace and democracy. Keep an eye on him.


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