Green Party of Canada Leader Annamie Paul calls on federal party leaders to suspend their campaigns for 24 hours to focus on a plan to rescue those left behind in Afghanistan
OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is deeply concerned to learn that Canada’s evacuation flights of Canadian nationals and Afghan refugees have ended and that our special forces have withdrawn.
“It has been terrible to learn that Canada’s evacuation efforts have ceased and that most Canadian personnel have left,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul. “This means that thousands of Canadian nationals, their families and the Afghan support staff who worked, and fought side by side with Canada’s military and diplomatic personnel are now trapped in Afghanistan with no immediate chance of rescue or safety. They will now be forced to go into hiding or to try to make desperate and dangerous attempts to cross Afghan frontiers that are now controlled by the Taliban.
“In light of this news, I have cancelled my original plans for today so that I am able to consult with Afghan organisations, to be briefed on the evolving situation by people on the ground, and to consider what tangible proposals the Green Party of Canada can offer. I am likewise calling on all federal party leaders to suspend their campaigns for a period of 24 hours so that we can all focus our attention on Afghanistan and jointly consider Canada’s rescue plan for those who remain trapped. Furthermore, all federal ministers, whose portfolios are engaged in this situation, should not be campaigning until they have crafted a credible plan to rescue those left behind.
“This is truly one of our lowest moments as a country and certainly one of the lowest in my lifetime as a Canadian. The government has categorically failed fellow citizens, friends and partners who remain in Afghanistan, even though it was avoidable through early action. No government talking points can mask that terrible reality.
“The United States announced its intention to withdraw from Afghanistan in April. The government of Canada knew that there was a very real possibility that the Taliban would quickly retake Afghanistan; a possibility we all watched unfold for weeks prior to the morning the Liberals called an election.
“Well ahead of the U.S. withdrawal, Canada should have had a plan in place to ensure the safe evacuation of Canadian nationals, their families as well as the Afghan support staff who worked with Canada. Because we did not have a plan, NGO partners are reporting that only a fraction of Canada’s Afghan support staff have been evacuated. And now that the airport is closed, and Afghan borders are monitored or controlled by the Taliban, the likelihood of successful extraction has become infinitely harder, and much more dangerous.
“Every minute counts. Global Affairs has been reduced to urging Canadian nationals, permanent residents and former Afghan support staff who worked with Canada to find a safe place to hide. As such, each moment that goes by without an actionable evacuation plan is a moment we are condemning Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and thousands of Canada’s partners to the risk of death, torture, slavery and starvation.
“Despite the fact that we are in the midst of an unnecessary election, rescuing our nationals, their families and our Afghan support staff left behind should be the total focus of our attention, both by federal political parties and by national media. We expect Mr. Trudeau and relevant federal ministers to immediately drop all election activities for as long as it takes for them to provide the people of Canada with the details of a credible plan to extract every Canadian, their families and the Afghan support staff who worked with Canada during its mission in Afghanistan.
“Canada must prove to Afghans and the world that we actually understand the urgency and gravity of what is unfolding. I also renew my call for an urgent federal leaders debate on Afghanistan, which would focus on identifying areas of cross-party consensus and action.
“More than 40,000 Canadian military personnel served in Afghanistan, 159 Canadian soldiers died, and thousands were wounded. We must never forget that Canada’s military deployment to Afghanistan was one of the most significant in our history,” concluded Ms. Paul
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GPC Press Secretary