The Liberal defence critic says he's headed on an unauthorized fact-finding trip to Afghanistan after having his request to visit the troops consistently ignored by the Harper government.Seems to me that Junior ought to ensure that everything gets done so the Defence Critic for the opposition is afforded the same opportunity to visit the mission that is afforded to our Prime Minister on his many photo op ventures over there. It would be quite the thing if Coderre were not afforded the same protections that Conservatives are entitled to...
Denis Coderre says he's set to leave for Kabul and Kandahar to visit with development workers, Afghan government officials and Canadian soldiers.
“(Afghanistan) is a major issue for the Canadian people,” Mr. Coderre said in an interview Saturday.
“I think that for the sake of the debate it's important that I go. Since I couldn't get an answer I decided to go on my own.”
The Montreal-area MP says he's made multiple requests with Defence Minister Peter MacKay's office but that they were systematically ignored or rejected. He said he first asked to go when Gordon O'Connor was defence minister but sometimes didn't get his calls returned.
Mr. Coderre says that he has the full blessing of his leader, Stephane Dion, and that his boss has also informed the Harper government that Mr. Coderre wants to go to Afghanistan.
While visiting dignitaries generally use transportation supplied by the Department of National Defence, Mr. Coderre has made his own travel arrangements to Afghanistan and within the country.
He does not yet have permission from the Canadian government to visit the international base in Kandahar but says he's confident that he will be allowed to meet with the troops.
“Since (all requests) passed through the defence minister's office, I would see it as a partisan gesture from the defence minister if I'm denied access,” he said.