Skip to main content

A Canadian soldier rests on the muzzle of his rifle while riding in an armoured vehicle in Kandahar province on Nov. 16, 2007.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers - notably Defence Minister Peter MacKay - have been saying for some time that the military mission in Afghanistan will end in 2011.

At some points, however, they have talked about the withdrawal of the troops being followed by a humanitarian effort led by civilians - which has provided fodder for those who say they actually plan to keep Canadian soldiers on the ground. Any humanitarian effort would naturally require security and that may require a military presence.

But Mr. Harper makes it absolutely clear in this interview with David Akin of Canwest New Service, published Tuesday, that the more than 2,500 Canadian troops will be coming home.

Story continues below advertisement

"We will not be undertaking any kind of activity that requires a significant military force protection, so it will become a strictly civilian mission," Mr. Harper said.

"We will continue to maintain humanitarian and development missions, as well as important diplomatic activity in Afghanistan. But we will not be undertaking any activities that require any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy."

Mr. Harper goes on to say that the NATO allies have lowered their objectives for the mission in Afghanistan. "I think the reality is that all actors over the past few years have been downgrading their expectations of what can be achieved in Afghanistan."

"But it is still important that we have a viable, functioning state in Afghanistan that has some acceptable democratic and rule of law norms. If we don't, we run the serious risk of returning in Afghanistan to what we had before. No matter what differences people have on the mission, everybody agrees that the mission has the purpose to ensure that Afghanistan does not return to being a failed state that is an incubator of terrorism."

(Photo: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)

Report an error
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at