Perusing the pages of Saturday's La Presse, I come across Joel-Denis Bellavance's report from Lisbon:
Mr. Harper used his one-on-one morning meeting with the Secretary-General of NATO, prior to the official opening of the summit, to shut the door firmly on any additional extension of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.
"The Prime Minister was categorical. The training mission will end in March 2014," a close confidant of Mr. Harper [Dimitri Soudas, would be my guess]explained.
Here's my question: In light of Mr. Harper's past statements - from the election campaign of 2008 right up to a couple of weeks ago - why would a single Canadian, whatever their political allegiance, believe a single word of this report, when NATO and the U.S. are already hedging on 2014 as the end date?
Now, on The Globe and Mail website, I'm reading the following, also sourced to a government anonymouse:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Afghan president that he had to at least match the commitment and effort made by NATO forces if the transition is to work, according to a person who was at the closed-door NATO summit meeting.
"Canada's message was that 'we invested a lot and we expect the same from you' in terms of good governance," this witness said.
In light of the fact that this is not the first time Mr. Harper has issued such a warning - and in light of the fact that even President Obama, when he was at the height of his power and popularity, backed away from a confrontation with President Karzai - why would anybody give any credence to the latest warning?