Canada plays central role securing gains made in Afghanistan rebuild

NANAIMO – There are plenty of opportunities for residents to support or take interest in Canada’s efforts overseas.

Roger Bird

Roger Bird

There are plenty of opportunities for Nanaimo residents to support or take interest in Canada’s efforts overseas, says MP Chris Alexander, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Defence.

Alexander, Canada’s first resident ambassador in Afghanistan, made a visit to the Harbour City Saturday, stopping in at the Vancouver Island Military Museum before addressing the Nanaimo-Alberni Conservative Electoral District Association in Qualicum.

“If they continue to take an interest [in Afghanistan] they will find a huge number of opportunities,” he told the Bulletin. “There are great Canadian NGOs [non-governmental organizations], international NGOs operating there, there are organizations like Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan that have a powerful presence in British Columbia that are focused on the well being of women and girls in Afghanistan.”

Alexander, the member of parliament for Ajax-Pickering in Ontario, said that very issue will be the focus of Canada’s effort in development in Afghanistan after 2014.

“After our military leaves, we’ll be making sure that the gains women and girls have made in education, in their economic empowerment, are continued and I think Canadians have a central role to play in that.”

Prior to his six years in Afghanistan, Alexander also served at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, Russia, working on relations after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Part of his message to the members of the Nanaimo-Alberni riding Saturday afternoon is the need to renew Canadian forces.

“[It is] important for our place as a nation in the world, where things don’t always go well outside of our borders and where we need to continue to make a contribution,” he said.

Touring the new home of the Vancouver Island Military Museum on Cameron Street, Alexander said he was moved by the research and care put into the displays by museum volunteers, adding that many of the displays, such as the Afghanistan and Cold War monuments held special significance for him.

“This is the best [war] museum that I have seen outside of our National War Museum in Ottawa that tries to tell the whole story of Canada’s military,” he said. “This museum shows how national defence, but also wars, when we have had to fight them, involve effort from all of society.

“It’s nice to see all of that under one roof.”