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David Mulroney, Canada's ambassador to China, is seen before testifying in the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Nov. 26, 2009.Pawel Dwulit/The Canadian Press

A review of Canada’s role in Afghanistan is “overdue," says a former deputy minister who was responsible for a task force that oversaw interdepartmental co-ordination of Canada’s engagement in the country.

David Mulroney, who also served as the secretary to an independent panel on Canada’s future in Afghanistan known as the Manley panel, told The Globe and Mail on Monday that a review could “absolutely still happen now.”

“In fact, now would be the right time to do it," Mr. Mulroney said, adding one of his “greatest hopes” was that there would be a look at the mission to explain why Canada went where it did and how it performed.

Mr. Mulroney made the comments after The Washington Post reported on confidential U.S. government documents that reveal officials did not tell the truth about the war over the 18-year campaign and hid evidence that the mission was becoming unwinnable.

The 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes documented interviews with generals, diplomats, aid workers, Afghan officials and others who played a direct role in war.

Douglas Lute, an Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, is reported by The Washington Post to have told government interviewers in 2015 the United States was “devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan – we didn’t know what we were doing.”

The U.S. was the “key actor” in Afghanistan, Mr. Mulroney said Monday.

“If they really don’t know where they’re going or what they’re doing, that’s bad news for us,” he said. “But that missing sense of purpose and direction was also replicated within Canada.”

When asked about The Washington Post article on Monday, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan pointed to progress made in the country as a result of the mission.

Mr. Sajjan, who was a lieutenant-colonel with a British Columbia Regiment and participated in three deployments to Afghanistan, said the Canadian Armed Forces and partners took time to understand the environment and make necessary changes.

The impact on the ground has been “quite substantial,” Mr. Sajjan added.

“If you look at what used to happen in the Kandahar Stadium, where women used to be stoned to death and people used to be executed, kids are playing soccer there,” he said.

“Where girls weren’t allowed to go to school, schools are opening and girls are actually going to school. Women who had to have a male chaperone to take them around, women are allowed to walk, walk freely.”

NDP MP Jack Harris, who previously served as his party’s defence critic and now is on the foreign affairs file, said the question now is whether Canada was “misled too.”

The Canadian government should be interested to know whether it and the military were fully informed, he said.

Andrew Leslie, a former Liberal MP and retired lieutenant-general, said in an interview on Monday that the documents brought to light by The Washington Post amount to a valuable addition to the historical record, adding more information and accounts often come to light at the end of every complicated war.

For its part, Canada did the best that it could with what it had, Mr. Leslie added.

He said he has been to too many memorial services to think otherwise.

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