Last year when upon getting a new chair it was felt by VAC that I didn't get the appropriate paperwork -- which was a doctor's note saying "Due to transformal amputations, Paul Franklin needs a new wheelchair." I was approved of a pension but was not to receive it until a doctor confirmed my limb loss. This is something that has to be done every year presumably until age 65.
It was strange to receive the news in a country where terror is an every day occurrence, that a deranged jihadist had shed blood on Canadian soil, rampaging through our normally peaceful capital, on the heels of another attack days earlier in Montreal. I knew, too, that the people of Afghanistan would have sound advice to offer Canadians.
The collapse of talks aimed at producing a truce between Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates has rekindled fears of ethnic unrest in the war-torn nation, according to a recent Reuters report. But if truth be told, Afghanistan has little chance of stabilizing politically or seeing significant economic progress with or without the power-sharing deal that was being brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
While troop-contributing countries have been fed a steady diet of the excesses committed by the Taliban, many thousands of Afghan civilians have had to endure untold suffering through error, ignorance, negligence and over-reach of the international military forces sent in to create security and stability in the country.
As we mark World Refugee Day, the latest figures indicate that more than 50-million human beings alive today have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Whether they're refugees, asylum-seekers, or people displaced within their own countries, these individuals had no choice but to leave the places they once held so dear.
There was a time when Canada realized that while military security was an important investment, it was the long-term planning involved in relief and development that would ultimately bring greater measures of peace to our world. Somewhere along the way we lost that. We also lost a seat on the UN Security Council, the world's respect through our lack of action on climate change, and our altruism the moment we decided to invest development resources only in those nations that enhanced our own local economy and brought political benefit to the government.
Yes, the Canadian story in Afghanistan is mixed, with closure hard to come by for those soldiers not only involved in security details, but development projects like protecting schools, building damns, and conducting civilian peace efforts in villages. But what shouldn't be in doubt is our government's promise and dedication to those military personnel.
I have seen firsthand the incredible transformations that have taken place in Afghanistan over the past decade. Wherever your views stand on Canada's participation in NATO's mission in Afghanistan, the available evidence shows that without a doubt, life for most Afghans is dramatically better today than it was under Taliban rule
The new citizenship and immigration minister, Chris Alexander, delivered a speech last week, the day before International Women's Day. The surprising part was just short of the end, when Alexander paused, stared down at the podium. He was crying. But Alexander and his government created a fast refugee system, not a fair one.
At the end of March, Canadian military personnel will leave Afghanistan. That is too soon. As the second largest contributing nation to the training mission after the U.S., Canada's contributions to this capacity development are too valuable to withdraw this close to the finish line. Canada should renew its training mission for another term, and continue contributing to the Afghan mission in an area in which it clearly excels. Canada should stay, and continue to add value to the effort of training and educating Afghan soldiers and police. We have given too much and come too far to walk out this close to the finish line, and with so much progress at stake.
The challenges that remain in Afghanistan are significant and they are copiously documented elsewhere and do not require repeating here. But the challenges should not overshadow the progress, and what can be concluded from the state of affairs in Afghanistan today is that Afghanistan is far better off today than it was in in 2001.