Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Refugees from Afghanistan and Canadian Citizens board a bus after being processed at Pearson Airport in Toronto, on Aug 17, 2021, after arriving indirectly from Afghanistan. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada will work tirelessly to evacuate people from strife-ridden Afghanistan "for as long as it is safe to do so."Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

It is profoundly dislocating to be compelled to ask during an election, Where has our government gone?

Where is the all-of-government co-ordination of the Armed Forces, the commercial airliners, the rescue mission to help the more than 1,200 still-stranded Canadians in Afghanistan?

Why the molasses-slow response to lifesaving demands for essential paperwork for those brave Afghans, an estimated 2,100, who risked their lives for Canadian soldiers and who now surely have a debt to be repaid to them by our government, and on an urgent basis?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, under Marco Mendicino’s direction, has failed epically to deliver on its promises to provide essential paperwork in time for those who had a chance to escape Afghanistan in the first days after the Taliban takeover.

The Department of National Defence under Harjit Sajjan is invisible. Mission Failed.

Many of the exhausted and frightened Afghans sleeping in the mountains, or in hiding, are fleeing as a direct result of these failures.

So while challenges closer to home, from the economy to climate change to ever drunker government spending, are a focus for this election, there is an additional element to consider as we get closer to voting: The duty of care.

It is, or rather was, a solemn responsibility; in fact, our promise to look after those in need was so much a part of our national DNA that it was never disputed.

That promise has turned in just two weeks into a lie. This is what happens when the stewards of our institutions abandon them for self-gain.

What does it even mean to be Canadian when cabinet ministers, led by the Prime Minister and his loyal deputy, act as if they are impotent to make a difference at scale in our name?

Only NGOs and private donations are making real-time differences on the ground in Afghanistan. This is wrong.

Is it inevitable that error of judgment will be this government’s epitaph?

The lawn signs of smiling cabinet ministers seeking re-election convey not hope and ideas, but divine myopia reminiscent of the windburned and tattered billboard boasting of the skills of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, the dead-eyed optometrist whom F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby used as a device to illustrate the difference between reality and appearance.

Three weeks ago, when both Parliament and Kabul fell, the electorate widely considered this federal election to be a purely selfish, unnecessary and narcissistic one. Perhaps as a country we are now more scarred by what has taken place in Afghanistan. The moral injury is profound.

As a result, this election has turned into a vital act that requires voters to defend the interests of this country and her democracy.

The Liberals made clear during the investigation into the removal of scientists from the national research lab in Winnipeg that Parliament is, in their arrogance, subservient to them. State secrets are for the Liberals to keep and leak, not Parliament. At least when they form government. We couldn’t disagree more.

As Afghanistan fell, Justin Trudeau convinced himself that collapsing Parliament on a whim was both the right, and the best, thing to do. He was wrong.

Today, not tomorrow, we must rebuild our means to defend and support our citizens wherever they may be, as well as those who helped Canada in her hour of need. We will never find comfort in the Liberal Leader’s corrupted line that we will “get through this together.” He doesn’t mean it. Only certain people matter to Mr. Trudeau – the ones he uses to prosecute identity politics for the singular purpose of furthering his destiny.

Actively placing the desperate of Afghanistan and the Canadians still stranded at the bottom of the pile is a sin of commission. More could have been done and was not, because in the final analysis, those lives were not deemed to be worth fighting for during an election.

Yet when you meet the brave and the lonely and you hear why they risked everything to confront the Taliban, it is because these Afghans and Canadians saw a choice. Together they chose the Canadian way. That sense of hope and of duty deserves to be protected, not flushed away by the very government whose responsibility it is to uphold.

Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe