Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

June 10, 2008 18:47 ET

Government of Canada Sets Future Course for Engagement in Afghanistan

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 10, 2008) - The Government of Canada today announced clear priorities and three "signature projects" related to Canada's future engagement in Afghanistan. This new direction will ensure a measurable improvement in the lives of citizens living in Kandahar province between now and 2011.

"Our ultimate goal remains the same-to leave Afghanistan to Afghans, in a country that is better governed, more peaceful, and more secure," said Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister David Emerson. "What is new is that we will significantly concentrate Canadian efforts and resources on the areas most likely to help us reach that goal."

Today's announcement responds directly to recommendations outlined in the report of the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan.

The progress that Canada has achieved in the last few months, along with the challenges and direction forward, is outlined in the inaugural Report to Parliament on Canada's engagement in Afghanistan. "Setting a Course to 2011," which was tabled today in the House of Commons, fulfills a commitment in the March 13 parliamentary motion to provide regular updates to the House of Commons.

For the next three years, Canada will focus on a targeted set of objectives in keeping with proven Canadian strengths and consistent with Afghan objectives and the efforts of the international community.

The first four priorities focus primarily on Kandahar. Canada will help the Government of Afghanistan to:

- maintain a more secure environment and establish law and order by building the capacity of the Afghan National Army and Police, and supporting complementary efforts in the areas of justice and corrections;

- provide jobs, education, and essential services, like water;

- provide humanitarian assistance to people in need, including refugees; and

- enhance the management and security of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Nationally, Canada will help:

- build Afghan institutions that are central to our Kandahar priorities and support democratic processes such as elections; and

- contribute to Afghan-led political reconciliation efforts aimed at weakening the insurgency and fostering a sustainable peace.

"Canada has done remarkable work in Afghanistan," said Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay. "The dedication and sacrifice of our military and civilian team have only strengthened our resolve and will continue to inspire us to work to fulfill these important priorities."

"Afghans must control their own destiny," added Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day. "Their future must be built on security, good governance and respect for human rights and the rule of law."

As Canada transforms its engagement in Afghanistan, our Kandahar-focused programming will comprise more than 50 percent of our total effort, and more and more funding will be directed toward efforts to benefit the people of that province. Prominent among Canadian activities in the province will be three "signature projects." Canada will:

- support rehabilitation of the Dahla Dam and its irrigation and canal system, generating Afghan jobs and fostering agriculture;

- build, expand and repair a total of 50 schools; and

- expand support for polio immunization in Kandahar with a view to eradicating the debilitating disease in Afghanistan by the end of 2009.

"With greater focus, increased resources in the field and initiatives that will touch the lives of the Afghan people, Canada will be making a difference," said the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation. "Improved water, education, and health are three key basic services needed for a better future in Kandahar."

To finance these and other development-related initiatives, Canada will be increasing its 10-year allocation to development and reconstruction in Afghanistan from $1.3 billion to a total of $1.9 billion (2001-2011).

For further information on the new signature projects announced today and on Canada's priorities in Afghanistan from now until 2011, please refer to the backgrounders located at:

Contact Information

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and
    Minister for the Pacific Gateway
    and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics
    Lynn Meahan
    Press Secretary
    Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
    Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
    Office of the Minister of National Defence
    Jay Paxton
    Press Secretary
    Office Department of National Defence
    Media Liaison
    Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Joanna Bailey
    Press Secretary
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office