I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the lack of public debate in Australia regarding our ongoing troop commitment in Afghanistan (also touched on over at Larvatus Prodeo). This contrasts with Canada, where that country’s Liberal government has given notice that it wants to extend the country’s combat mission in Afghanistan until 2011, which will trigger a debate and vote on the matter in their Parliament next month.
All the opposition parties want the combat mission to end next February. The Liberals say Canadians can stay in Afghanistan longer, but only for humanitarian and reconstruction operations.
Numbers in the Canadian Parliament are such that it is possible the vote could be defeated, triggering an election.
The fact that Canada is having a fully fledged political and public debate about the issue contrasts starkly with Australia. The other big difference is the fact that their Parliament even gets a say in these things. In Australia, the decision is solely in the hands of the Prime Minster and his Cabinet.
I’ve put legislation into the Senate a few times over the years – as have other Democrats before me as far back as 1981 – seeking to change this to require formal Parliamentary approval for such deployments, but it has never received the support of either major party, who (not surprisingly) like keeping such power to themselves.
It is not only Canada which differs from us on this ground. Even in Britain, the new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is moving to change things so that the formal approval of Parliament is required before troops can be deployed in such operations.
In Australia, we still seem happy with there being no need for debate, either Parliamentary or public, on such matters.