I am more and more impressed with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He has just gone on a top secret visit to Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan. According to the left—leaning Toronto Globe and Mail,
The Prime Minister enters a zone where Canadian soldiers are clearly being targeted. Earlier this year, senior diplomat Glyn Berry was killed in a bombing, while three other soldiers were severely wounded. Most recently, two soldiers were killed in a vehicle collision, while yet another soldier was critically injured in an axe attack. Still others have been subjects of suicide attacks.
Gen. Hillier said the visit is an important one for the troops.
"They love it. They're excited by it," he said. "Every soldier, sailor, airman and air women you talk to here are proud to be here. They believe in their mission."
Mr. Harper said that although he's not unmindful of the danger of this visit, he needed to come to the base to demonstrate solidarity with the soldiers.
The more conservative Calgary Sun, home to our contributor Paul Jackson, notes:
Today, Harper will address a full corps of Canadian and foreign soldiers on base in what's expected to be a rousing speech to rally the troops. Hillier said military personnel were "excited" by the PM's visit, but denied they were in dire need of a morale boost.
"Every soldier, sailor, airman, airwoman you talk to here is excited about their mission. They're proud to be here, they believe they're doing something fundamentally good. They're delighted to represent our country and they're doing a professional job," he said.
Harper also praised the role of Canadian police, development workers and diplomats working with the military to stabilize the region. That 2,400—plus force is carrying out Canada's critical role in the global fight against terrorism, he said.
"We have to remember that there were a number of Canadians killed in the World Trade Center," he said.
"We're all touched by the threats of terror. This country, as we all know, was the bastion of that and is still a threat in terms of those who would establish terror bases across the world."
The visit may be a bit risky, politically. Canadian troops have been targeted and died, and public support for their deployment is probably falling. As Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters points out,
Harper hasn't taken the poll—watching route of leadership, quite obviously, and he has more vulnerability to shifts in public opinion than an American president. This show of resolve will not just boost Canadian troop morale, but also the morale of Canada's allies in this effort.
I am coming to the conclusion that Harper seriously wants to change Canadian politics and the way Canadians think about themselves, and is embarking on a highly ambitious plan, step by step, to build institutional and attitudinal supports for a more vigorous society and economy.
Another way of putting it would be to say that Canada has a leader, one who takes leadership as a responsibility, not a prize to be enjoyed.
Hat tips: Paul Jackson, Ed Lasky
Thomas Lifson 3 13 06