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- Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

We often receive questions from readers, either by email or social media, about the issues of the day.  We truly appreciate it when our local elected representatives, or their staffs, take the time to give our readers their honest response to those fair concerns.

This week our new Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff responded personally to Andrew Scheer's announcement and the coming leadership contest in the Conservative Party of Canada, and to the recent Washington Post report on the war in Afghanistan.

"As you know, Mr. Scheer made a personal decision to resign. I believe he summed it up very succinctly when he made the following statement, “the Conservative Party needs someone who can give 100 per cent to the effort. After some conversations with my kids and loved ones, I felt it was time to put my family first.” All Canadians should appreciate Andrew Scheer’s willingness to lead one of our national parties, and the sacrifices he made personally to partake in our democratic process.

From my internal perspective, the party is very united, our caucus is excited for the House of Commons to return, and we are ready to work hard on behalf of the people who elected us, and to hold the government to account.

As for where I see the Conservative Party heading in the next few months, I see it as an opportunity for members of the Conservative Party to select their new leader, and the future Prime Minister of Canada. This will be a time to talk about the future direction of the party, to present new ideas, and to bring in new members. I am excited to see who will put their names forward for the leadership race. Our party is strong and united, and I already know there will be a number of talented and inspiring people who will run for the leadership of the party.

Re: Afghanistan:

"My focus is on Canada and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound; however, from my quick research of the Washington Post reports it seems their investigation is focused on the United States efforts and analysis.

I did two deployments in 2007 and 2012 under NATO and Canadian leadership in Afghanistan, and can provide commentary from my experience there. Any contemporary conflict, but especially a counter-insurgency, is extremely complicated, nuanced, and multi-dimensional in nature. Resolution requires a Whole of Government (WoG) effort, and time. Canada set the example with our WoG team that involved members from not only the Canadian Armed Forces, but Foreign Affairs, CIDA, RCMP/Police, and many other governmental departments.

Our Provincial Reconstruction Teams, Battle Groups and mentoring/liaison teams were essential to helping the Afghan/Kandahar government get back on its feet (at all levels: federally, provincially, and locally). Further, our efforts as part of the Canadian Contribution to the Training Mission in Afghanistan (CCTM-A) (mainly focused in Kabul) were key in helping augment the professionalism and institutional capacity of the Afghan forces, their police, and government.

Is Afghanistan still in a level of turmoil? Yes. However, prior to 2002 the Taliban were ruling the whole country, Al-Qaeda had a safe haven to train and to project terrorism around the globe, minorities were being persecuted, and girls weren’t allowed to go to school.

When I left in 2012, Afghanistan was under a democratically elected government, Al-Qaeda’s footprint in the country was nearly non-existent, and girls were going to school. This shows that there was progress, and I am proud of the work we did in Afghanistan.

Alex Ruff, MSC, CD

Member of Parliament, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound


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