'Peace and stability cannot be brought to another country through war and occupation.' - NUPGE president James Clancy.
Ottawa (15 Sept. 2009) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) says Prime Minister Stephen Harper must tell U.S. President Obama that Canada will definitely pull all troops out of Afghanistan by its already-established 2011 deadline.
James Clancy, president of the 340,000-member union, says Harper must not leave any ambiguity on the issue this week when he makes his first official visit to Washington since Obama became president.
"We urge you to once again clearly confirm that Canada's military mission in Afghanistan will end in 2011, meaning a complete pullout of all Canadian troops, and that our contribution going forward will strictly focus on peacemaking, reconstruction, development and humanitarian assistance," Clancy writes in a letter to the prime minister.
He also urges Harper to suggest to Obama that the United Nations, rather than the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the U.S., should take the lead in providing future security and development assistance to Afghanistan.
"Furthermore, rather than examining just Canada's role in Afghanistan, we urge your government to involve Canadians in a full public debate about what an independent foreign policy for Canada should look like in the 21st century," he adds.
'We support our troops'
Clancy emphasizes that NUPGE stands fully behind Canadian troops now serving in Afghanistan.
"We recognize that they've put their lives at risk and performed admirably in Afghanistan against huge odds. We've repeatedly called on the federal government to ensure that the Canadian Forces are properly staffed, equipped and trained," he notes.
"We've consistently called for more support for military families and veterans by making fair pay, good health care, fair benefits and veterans' services top priorities for military spending," he adds.
"The troops who serve in Canadian uniforms deserve every resource we can muster to ensure their safety in battle and their health and well-being, as well as their families, upon their return home from war.
"But we have opposed Canada's military role in Afghanistan from the start," Clancy says. "We believe that peace and stability cannot be brought to another country through war and occupation."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE