Friday, 22 September 2006

Big day in Ottawa

It was a busy day in the nation's capital.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai addressed a joint session of Parliament, thanking Canada for its military presence in Afghanistan and specifically thanking the families of fallen soldiers. In response to a reporter's question, he also made it clear that Canadians were welcome to stay even beyond their present mandate. (This in stark contrast to the highly deceptive spin put on some of his remarks taken out of context on the NDP website.) In his speech to Parliament, he presented in concrete terms the progress that has been made in Afghanistan. And, without naming names, he ascribed his country's problems to abandonment by the international community after the Soviet withdrawal.

He later laid a wreath at the National War Monument, and reacted to a protester's curses by smiling and waving his hat. The man definitely has class.

I don't know if he stuck around to see it, but at noon there was a large rally (8-10,000 people, which is huge by Canadian standards) on Parliament Hill in support of Canadian troops. There have been conflicting polls in Canada lately on whether the majority of Canadians support the Afghan mission, but it is clear that the supporters are more willing to stand up and be counted in public. Prime Minister Harper addressed the enthusiastic crowd.

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