I've seen several Libloggers over the past couple of days call the Liberal Party out on its allowance of the circumvention of democracy. These bloggers range in opinion, but there's one standard call: let there be a vote on the issue.
Particularly, Far and Wide, a Liblogger I'm particularly fond of, has said that until a vote is held, the Liberal Party will be on the defense for its decision, or more rightly put, it's inaction. While Far and Wide himself is seemingly pro-Afghanistan (I think), he notes that the NDP will have a mighty stick to bash us with for the next little while, until we can take take it away, namely, with a vote on the extension.
I don't disagree with this assessment, but I do think there should be an addendum, because the NDP will beat us with a stick anyways, no matter what we do, until we either fold into nothingness, or turn bright orange.
This simple fact is reinforced by another fact, namely that even if a vote is held, the Liberals are more than likely to help pass it, either with full caucus support, or with a basic majority. No matter what occurs, vote or no vote, amendments or no amendments, confidence or no confidence, this extension is going to happen. By this time, barring some miraculous about-face by Stephen Harper, we should have made peace with that. The entire issue now is whether or not the government should get a simple free pass on it, which I don't believe is the right way to go.
But either way, the NDP are not going to back off. They're the fourth party, but they're fairly rabid despite, and are probably more than willing to allow this non-vote to occur because, frankly, it gives them some more effective ammunition, more effective than simply attacking the Liberal's Afghanistan position. If a vote does occur, the NDP are more likely to stand in "solidarity" with anti-Afghanistan voters, and then attack the Liberals for allowing the extension to pass. It's how it will go, no matter how much bending we, the Conservatives, or anyone else does to appease them. The Dippers are not fuzzy loving creatures - they're as politically ruthless as the next party. Let's not kid ourselves about that.
So yes, let's hold a vote. Let's hold meetings, committee hearings, and hammer out compromises and issues that will benefit our soldiers and our country. That's the right thing to do, rather than running and hiding from the issue altogether.
But let's realize that right now, Dippers and left-wingers in general are going to be set on chastising the Liberals for not bending to their ideology, no matter what we do. In general, having a vote might help appease some critics, but it won't appease the majority, and especially some of the more long-winded critics. They're not for this war, and the issue is definitely above and beyond the simple issue of a vote - they're pushing for the Liberals to stop it in its tracks, and when we inevitably choose not to, we're going to be on the defensive no matter what.