The ramp ceremony in Afghanistan took place for Trooper Karine Blais earlier today. She is the 117th member of the Canadian Military to die since Canada's mission began in 2002.
Ironically, on Canada AM this morning the piece directly preceding this story dealt with assisted suicide and I couldn't help but draw a parallel. Our soldiers are meant to be peacekeepers, yet they are forced to assume a combat role. Our own government contradicts itself by saying out of one side of its mouth that we will not leave until the Taliban is defeated and from the other side it whispers "the Taliban can never be defeated". So, as crass as it may seem, I can't help but compare the Government of Canada with the the physicians who assist in suicide. We are sending young men and women to their deaths.
Funny, I don't get emotional about a lot of things, but as I sat in my bedroom watching the ramp ceremony on TV while my peripheral vision caugh a glimpse of the Canadian flag in my back yard flying at half staff, I cried. I don't know anything about young Karine Blais except that at 21 years of age she has not even had a chance to live half the life I've lived. No great love, no children, no future.
I can't think of anywhere else on the planet I would rather live, and I am eternally grateful that I am a citizen by birth of what I believe is one of the greatest countries on the planet. But as more and more of our troops are killed fighting instead of peacekeeping, in a war with no parameters, unattainable goals, and no end in sight, my pride in being Canadian is feeling just a little bruised today.
Our government needs to do more than issue eloquently worded statements of condolence. Leadership? No, I wouldn't call it that.
Rest in peace Trooper Blais.