Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Canada Extends Libyan Mission, 293-1

Canada's House of Commons easily passed a motion today with nearly unanimous support from all officially recognized parties, plus some of those nice Bloc MPs, represented in the House to extend our current involvement in the NATO-led air strikes against Libya and the regime of Moammar Ghaddafi.

The motion was a key stepping stone in the right direction for the House and its warring factions; the fact that the government and the Opposition parties managed to come together and have a meaningful debate on Libya, propose some meaningful amendments - even if they reek of playing to your political base (shame on you, NDP, no principles!) - and voting to lengthen a very worthy and very important military operation.

Why is it so important? Maybe folks don't realize this by now but Moammar Ghaddafi is an utter pain in the ass. Not only to our fine Western sensibilities, but almost assuredly to the people who have to live under his rule, and don't get the benefits of the high rate of cronyism and political abuse carried out in the country. Ghaddafi is the absolute height of crazy, absurd, borderline-insane dictators running some of the nations in Africa and the Middle East. He deserves to be destroyed, and the move by the House, wrapped up in the extension motion, to recognize Libya's National Transitional Council as those who truly speak for the citizens of Libya, is a great step towards undermining his very legitimacy as a ruler and figurehead. All the right moves were played out on this chessboard this time.

But, of course, what does it mean for the various political parties in that House? For the Conservatives, this motion shows that they're serious on their commitments overseas and to their neo-conservative foreign policy objectives, not to mention a boost in standings even further with our NATO allies. They come out looking happy on this one, even if, in the possible case of catastrophic failure, they're likely to take huge amounts of blame.

For the New Democrats, the road their support for this motion takes them is less clear. Though they put forward amendments that morphed the motion into their own idea of an extension, it's not entirely clear - at least to me - if they passed. I can't see the Conservatives supporting them, and they certainly don't need NDP support. Either way, let's face it - Canadians don't read amendments. Hardcore Dippers won't care either way. People fearing another Afghanistan, and who voted for the NDP for that reason, are not going to care either way. They'll only see their party voting for yet another military jaunt abroad. Kind of sticky mess to be in, no? But the good news is that others will have seen the NDP as slightly maturing, and taking their job as a principled Off Opp seriously. But, as I said, it's a murky path, and the NDP may not like the road it takes them down. What it really comes down to is their promise to not vote for another extension - which we'll see their commitment to if it comes to that.

For the Liberals, they ended up doing what they always do - voting with the Conservatives (I kid). But it's a vote that makes sense for the liberal-world-order-oriented Liberals, who approve generally of interventionism abroad because, hey, we like to help those who need helping. It should also disappoint folks who expected the Liberals to turn into the NDP with an L stuck somewhere in the middle. Good - they deserve disappointment. Rae stuck to his guns, proposed a worthy amendment, and we're on our way to bomb Tripoli again.

Then, I suppose, we come to our friends in the non-existent parties - the Bloc and the Greens. I don't really know what the Bloc did, but Lizzy May was the 1 in that 293-1 count - the only voting member who decided to not support the Libya mission, with the fuzzy notion of a "blank cheque" being handed out to the government, even though that whole three-and-a-half months thing noted they wouldn't extend beyond that date (unless another vote in the House came up). But, hey, no one expected much from her anyways.


  1. It's a good thing you're on vacation and you don't have to read all the other news.

  2. yay for May and the Bloc
    this Ghaddafi fight has gotten ridiculous
    what a waste of money and energy
    nothing accomplished
    why didn't they just bribe somebodt to do him in or the US could have sent in their seals
    what is this, another Bin Laden thing?
    or a Saddam?

  3. Glestcher,

    Amazing how quickly the shoe fell on the other foot, eh?


    It's more complicated than that. The Libya mission is about taking the fight to Ghaddafi and getting some press out of it. No one denies that NATO needs something to show off, and given the grievances against Ghaddafi and the uprising of the Libyans against his rule, this provides a good opportunity to show how NATO will protect citizens from a pain-in-the-ass ruler like Ghaddafi (while simultaneously rule out doing the same thing against the equally barbaric Syrian administration).

    The world is full of fun little inconsistencies like that, however, what they're doing right now is the right thing in mind, to help secure a change of regime that is sorely needed for the people of Libya, who unfortunately don't have the means to do it themselves without a very protracted and bloody war.