Canada had an elaborate ceremony, on Parliament Hill to honour the Canadian military for its role in freeing the people of Libya from its brutal and psychotic leadership. On the outset that seems like the decent thing to do and there can be no argument that troops should be recognized for their contribution. The ceremony became controversial with opposition Members of Parliament, since it was seen as overkill. This was especially in view of the fact that Canada has lost 158 soldiers in Afghanistan and several hundred were wounded. The Afghanistan mission has not been officially been recognized with a ceremony, although Canada’s combat mission ended in July. There has been no formal recognition for the contributions Canadian troops made in the Balkans, particularly in Bosnia and Croatia.
The Prime Minister, with Gouvernor General David Johnson, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk in attendance, thanked the Canadian troops on the mission and hailed the mission a success.
The Libyan mission was the kind of war that politicians love – a short, victorious engagement with no Canadian casualties. Stephen Harper celebrated the Canadian effort Thursday, in a pomp-and-circumstance filled medal awards ceremony for Lt. General Charles Bouchard, who oversaw the NATO mission, complete with an RCAF fly-by and 21-gun salute.
While the job in Libya may be done, Mr. Harper’s comments during the ceremony suggested there may be other missions that will soon require Canada’s attention.
“Those who talk the talk of human rights must from time to time be prepared to walk the walk …. Heaven forbid that we should fail to do that of which we are capable when the path of duty is clear. Our government is not that kind of government. Canada is not that kind of nation,” he said.
He wasn’t specific, but it seems he was preparing the ground for future interventions — perhaps in Syria or in a possible conflict between Israel and Iran.