Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"OOPS, I Did it Again..."

I know it's really minutia, in the big scheme of things, but still... doesn't this sort of stuff kind of grate at you, too?

From Canadian Press (via the Globe and Mail):

WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush called for an all-out allied effort Thursday to defeat the Taliban but angered some in Canada by failing to mention its role in the deadly southern part of Afghanistan.

Mr. Bush singled out for praise countries that have recently pledged extra forces or equipment as a spring offensive looms – countries like Norway, Britain, Poland, Turkey, Denmark, Greece and Iceland.

He didn't talk about Canada, which already has a big commitment in Afghanistan and is fighting in the most dangerous areas. Canada was not tabbed for more help.

Asked about the omission, White House spokeswoman Kate Starr noted other allies like the Netherlands weren't mentioned....

In Ottawa, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said he didn't take offence that Canada was left out.

“I'm certain it's just, maybe, a little error,” Mr. MacKay said in French, noting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice often praises Canada's role in Afghanistan.

Opposition leaders were far less sanguine.

“Maybe with Harper leading Canada, he thinks it's become the 51st American state,” said Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.

“That might explain it.”

NDP Leader Jack Layton said it's time Bush started appreciating Canada's efforts. “Mr. Bush, once again, doesn't have a good grasp of the situation on the ground.”

And Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said it's unforgivable Bush neglected to mention Canada, especially after failing to thank the country for helping U.S. travellers stranded by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“We're taking on more than our fair share. . .of duties in Afghanistan,” said Mr. Dion. “I believe the president must immediately correct this omission.”

Said Liberal MP Denis Coderre: “With friends like that, you don't need enemies.”

Since 2002, 44 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have died in Afghanistan. Canada has 2,500 troops with the NATO force in Afghanistan, most of them in the southern Kandahar province which has long been a Taliban stronghold.

-Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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