Canada and Afghanistan: the sacrifice of our small towns
On this last day of the year 2009, at the edge of the century’s new decade, an old war drags on. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are the method of choice for killing in a land-locked Asian country, whose connection to Canada, deepens. Today our media reflect with us on the death of 4 men and one woman, a journalist described by her colleagues as “curious, open-minded and decent.” Is it too romantic a generalization to think of these qualities as quintessentially Canadian, when we are at our best? Perhaps. Canada as benign versus Canada as a dark place of disappearance and suppression. Canada as banal. Canada as a country whose major cities rarely give up any war dead but whose smaller places since 2002 do just that.
Home towns of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan in 2009 (source: cbc.ca – apologies for any errors)
Val D’OR, QC
Ste. Hyacinthe, QC
Quebec City, QC
Les Mechins, QC
Port Colborne, ON
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
St. Catherines, ON
Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NFLD
Canadian Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan in 2009: totals by Province
I write a collection of prose-poems – fragments that comprise The Canada Project about my birth in Pune and then my journey to Canada, across its provinces: a meditation on the nature of dates, numbers, place names – each of us, carrying inside, our own roll calls. After a year’s procrastination, I begin to read Roberto Bolano’s 2666. More fragments.
A “routine” presence patrol in District 2, Kandahar close to the Dand district, where reporters say Canada has established a “model village.” A friend sends me an email, with this culled news clipping statement: “Witnesses described panic among locals, as Canadian soldiers rushed to secure the area and airlift the victims to medical care. Nevertheless, Brig.- Gen. Menard, commander of coalition forces in Kandahar, declares that Dand remains a “safe area” and expresses confidence that this was an isolated incident.
“Expresses confidence that this was an isolated incident.”
Those who support our efforts in Afghanistan – from the general to the policy analyst to the veteran reporter to the non-fiction writer – hold opinions that must be placed alongside those of Rory Stewart, writing in the New York Review of Books,
“We armed militias in 2001, disarmed them …in 2003…rearmed them again in 2006 as community defence forces…we allowed local autonomy in 2001, pushed for a strong central government in 2003, and returned to decentralization in 2006. First we tolerated opium crops; then we proposed to eradicate them through aerial spraying; now we expect to live with production for decades…Through all these bewildering years, a subtle and refined edifice of justification for troop increases has emerged, in which arguments are…reinforced with analogies and precedents.”
Percentage disapprovals for Canada in Afghanistan by province remain highest in Quebec.
From Nik Nanos, in an email to subscribers, December 30, 2009
The Leader with the Best Vision for Canada’s Future
Stephen Harper: 30.0% (-2.3)
Michael Ignatieff: 14.8% (-5.6)
Jack Layton: 14.0% (-0.6)
Gilles Duceppe: 3.4% (-0.6)
Elizabeth May: 2.8% (-0.9)
None of them/Undecided: 34.9% (+10.0)
Leadership Index Score
Stephen Harper: 94.6 (-5.1)
Michael Ignatieff: 39.0 (-15.8)
Jack Layton: 41.2 (+2.3)
Gilles Duceppe: 15.4 (-3.2)
Elizabeth May: 9.7 (-4.3)
“Nanos Poll.” http://www.nanosresearch.com/main.asp
See the specific composite of indicators for the “leadership index score”: http://www.nanosresearch.com/library/polls/POLNAT-W09-T408E.pdf
2002-2009 Canadian Soldiers Killed in A/Stan: totals by year
Total 138 (see wikipedia for an detailed chart by year of Canadian war dead in Afghanistan)
In 2006, the nature of the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan changed. In 2010, we will continue to ask: what happened and was it worth it, is it worth it? I remain steadfast: we will not be leaving in 2011. I hope to be wrong.