I think Stephen Harper is making a mistake here:
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is warning the Liberal government will pay a 'severe price' if it sends Canadian troops to Iraq.
'I remembered how the prime minister attacked us during the federal election for wanting to spend more on defence,'' Harper told reporters Saturday in Halifax.
'I sat through an election campaign where the prime minister accused me of having secret plans to send troops to Iraq. If it turns out he has secret plans, this has to be one of the biggest election deceptions in history.''
However, Harper didn't rule out supporting such an initiative if he could be convinced it was safe.
I'm all for holding the PM's feet to the fire for his cynical posturing during the election, playing the cheapest (at the time) of all possible cards. And Harper is probably right; if Martin does send any troops at all, even the smallest token contingent, it probably will bite him in the ass come election time. But this would be one of those times to smile, and nod, and be conciliatory. If Liberals can be made to do the right thing, by that strange magic of politics-as-usual around here, it somehow becomes the Canadian thing. (Despite being that which they were vehemently opposed to, yesterday or the day before. Funny, huh?)
At that point, when it therefore can't be sold during an election campaign as fundamentally despicable and un-Canadian, the Tories can step in with a rational and reasonable plan to both stop being unhelpful to American policy aims, and return some kind of dignity to the funding of our military forces. It doesn't have to be a good one, as such platforms go, just better than the current Liberal one. After Paul Martin lays the groundwork, both will be a far easier sell in general - and, more importantly, the Liberals won't be able to substantially contest the morality of either. Didn't Sun Tzu say something about not stopping the enemy from marching straight into a trap of their own devising?