In other news, Canada seeks to (un-ironically) memorialize embarrassing foreign policy failure for all time
Critics ‘dismayed’ over Ottawa’s plans to install plaque praising Afghan evacuation
Global Affairs Canada plans to install a plaque commemorating Canada’s evacuation of Afghans
and embassy staff when its capital Kabul fell to the Taliban
, but critics argue that sends the wrong message.
The plaque carried a $10,000 price tag and was approved in a July 2022 memorandum that The Canadian Press obtained through an access-to-information request.
It reads, in part: “This plaque pays tribute to all the government of Canada employees who contributed to this heroic effort.”
The department said it unveiled the tribute in an October ceremony and plans to install it when renovations at its headquarters are completed.
Conservative Sen. Salma Ataullahjan said she was baffled by the move.
“It’s totally inappropriate, considering how we badly botched the exit,” she said in an interview from her native Pakistan, where she said Afghan children are begging in the streets.
“To me, it seems unnecessarily inappropriate and insensitive when I think of what’s happening in Afghanistan,” she said. “What are we congratulating ourselves on?”
The plaque describes Canada’s role in the chaotic evacuation of Kabul in August 2021, when the Taliban took over Afghanistan, as such: “In the preceding weeks and in those that immediately followed, a complex operation took place under extremely harsh, unsafe and rapidly changing conditions to help thousands of Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada and Afghans to flee to safety.”
Last year, a special parliamentary committee studied how it unfolded in depth.
MPs heard that Canada evacuated its embassy before its peers, making it nearly impossible for Canadian veterans’ groups to help get the Afghan interpreters they had worked with to safety.
Canada’s final commander in Kandahar during the Afghan war, retired Maj.-Gen. Dean Milner, said embassy staff left “embarrassingly way too fast.” He said that’s part of the reason “we only managed to pull out maybe about 15 to 17 per cent of those critical interpreters who soldiered alongside us.”
As detailed in a report last June, the committee also heard about failings in Canada’s resettlement process, which it found was “administratively and logistically complex.” Witnesses described poor communication, an overreliance on email and a requirement that people trying to flee the country access documents with a professional version of Adobe Acrobat.
The memorandum says deputy ministers held a June 2022 discussion that included an event to commemorate the Afghanistan evacuation, but it doesn't say who came up with the idea.