A Matter of Responsibility

The Dutch defence minister resigned Friday after being censured by her country’s parliament over her handling of the evacuation of those who had helped Dutch forces in Afghanistan. The foreign minister had already resigned over the same issue.

For this Caandian it was shocking to see a cabinet minister accept blame and resign over anything. Responsibility is sadly missing in our politics these days.

The issue that led to the resignations was the evacuation of translators and others who had helped Dutch forces in Afghanistan. As the Taliban swept to power, many countries tried to make good on the promises they had made to those who helped them. The Netherlands had to leave some people behind; the ministers accepted responsibility and resigned.

Canadian troops served in Afghanistan for a decade, and employed thousands of locals in various positions. Given that helping western troops would put these people at risk should the tides orf war turn, those employees were assured that they could emigrate to Canada if they wished.

Canadian intelligence services, like their Dutch counterparts apparently misjudged how quickly the Taliban would seize control. Promises of assistance from Justin Trudeau, of a 20,000 person airlift, turned out to be hollow words. We got some out, but most remain trapped in Afghanistan, fearing for their lives.

Did any Canadian cabinet minister resign over this failure? Of course not.

The official government response to the fall of Kabul was to call an election, instead of dealing with a humanitarian crisis in the middle of a pandemic. No wonder people were left behind – the government had “higher” priorities.

Perhaps this callous disregard for human life and national honor will end not with ministerial resignations but with the defeat of the government in Monday’s election. At the very least I am hoping that the cabinet minister who stood in solidarity with her “brothers” in the Taliban will feel the voters’ wrath.

Once upon a time people of honor entered politics to serve their country. They understood that they were responsible for their actions or inactions in the way they did their job.

Apparently that is the case still in The Netherlands. Will we ever see that again in Canada?


One comment

  1. and also in Australia

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