Canada has now lost 66 soldiers in Afghanistan. According to a Canadian Press-Decima poll, two-thirds of those Canadians asked believed that was an "unacceptable number.
The percentage peaked at more than 75 per cent in Quebec where the largely-French population has traditionally had a far higher rejection of the concept of Canada being at war. But, then they are French, after all.
The anti-involvement crowd also envelops three of the four major parties - the NDP, the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois. But, the Liberals committed Canada to serving in a combat capacity and the Conservatives are adamant they will not prematurely end that commmitment. Currently, Canada is slated to have soldiers in that role until 2009.
I think it's sad that such a high proportion of Canadians are unwilling to have our soldiers defending a people whose country has been torn apart by internal and external strife for decades. Certainly, those serving in Afghanistan have not adopted such a stance. They, when asked, seem almost uniformly to believe in what they are doing.
And, what they are doing is giving Afghanis something to build on. This was a country, that under the Taliban, had massive ignorance, terrible health conditions, an average annual income of less than a $1,000 Canadian and a misogynistic, regressive, disgusting "government" that harboured the hardest of the world's hardcore terrorists.
Now the Afghanis have the beginnings of a credible regime, crucial infrastucture being built, wells being dug, girls being educated, women returning to the workforce (even to the halls of government)...in other words, some hope and something concrete to hang it on.
In World War II, Canada lost not 66 soldiers but 66 THOUSAND soldiers. That was out of a population much smaller than today's. It was done in aiding European nations to defeating Hitler. I don't think there's any question we're at much greater risk for an attack on our soil today (from the same type of jihadists our forces are engaging in Afghanistan) than Canada was in 1939. Canada, itself, was in no immediate danger from the Nazis but Canadians chose to support the idea of fighting for the cause of freedom.
Every lost life is regrettable. The Canadian soldiers who have died were mostly young. They had dreams for their future. Some were married with small children. They sacrificed those futures for a greater good and a belief they were making a difference.
We should honour their memory by picking up their cause. Calling it quits on them would be reprehensible.