MacKay hopes election won't fuel Taliban
September 5, 2008 at 1:40 PM EDT
HALIFAX — Defence Minister Peter MacKay says he hopes the Taliban doesn't use a federal election campaign to step up attacks on Canadian Forces in southern Afghanistan.
During a stop at a military trade show in Halifax on Friday, Mr. MacKay was asked whether he thought the Taliban would target Canada's military in an attempt to influence the election outcome.
“I sure hope not,” he said. “All I can tell you is the challenge is there, it's real. We've seen the tactics of the Taliban. ... Their tactics know no bounds, know no rules of engagement.”
He said the government is aware the Taliban is not just “living in caves and attacking soldiers” and is informed about what is happening in Canada and other parts of the world through the Internet, which also helps them wage their own propaganda war.
“We're mindful of that, we're not deterred by the intimidation and we're going to continue our important work there to the benefit of the Afghan people,” he said.
Mr. MacKay said the government remains committed to the military mission, despite a recent poll that suggested 61 per cent of Canadians believe the cost in lives and money is too high.
The minister said he doesn't share the same view and believes it's important to be part of a global effort to combat terrorism to ensure safety at home and a better life for the Afghan people.
“It's been a priority for us ... Canadians are a reliable ally. When the world comes to our door, we respond.”
However, he said it was clear from recent attacks that the flood of weapons and insurgents into Afghanistan is making for “an extremely challenging mission.”
Three more Canadian soldiers were killed in an ambush on Wednesday, bringing the mission's death toll to 96 since 2002.
The Conservative government has committed Canada's troops to duty in Kandahar until 2011.
Friday, September 5, 2008
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