Waterloo, Ontario - The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), together with the Canadian International Council (CIC), is holding a national town hall on the future of Canada's engagement in Afghanistan.

The Way Forward in Afghanistan will be held at CIGI on December 9. "The town hall will represent the first truly national dialogue on this critical foreign policy issue in Canada," says CIGI Senior Fellow and Afghanistan specialist Mark Sedra, who will moderate the discussion. "Afghanistan represents Canada's largest bilateral aid program and is the country's foremost foreign policy priority. Yet despite the seminal importance of the Afghan mission to Canada and Canadians, there has been little national debate on its objectives and direction."

Headlining the discussion are the following panelists:

Ambassador Ronald Neumann - was formerly a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the US Department of State and served three times as Ambassador; to Algeria, Bahrain and finally to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. He is currently the President of the American Academy of Diplomacy and a part-time faculty member at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University.

Ambassador Omar Samad - took up his posting as Afghan Ambassador to Canada in September 2004. Prior to that, he was the Spokesperson for the Ministry Foreign Affairs and Director General of the Ministry's Information Division between 2002 and 2004.  Before returning to Afghanistan he worked in the media for ABC News and as a freelance television and radio producer. In 2001, he served as a commentator and analyst on Afghanistan for several international media outlets and covered the Bonn Conference for CNN.

Kevin McCort - is the President and CEO of CARE Canada. During his 15 years at CARE, he has led emergency relief efforts in Somalia, Haiti, Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Bosnia and was CARE Canada's country director in Zambia for three years.

David Mulroney - is the Deputy Minister of the Afghanistan Task Force at the Privy Council Office. In this position he provides advice and support to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan in the delivery of a strategic plan to transform Canada's role in Afghanistan. The Task Force also provides secretariat support to the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan.

Derek Stoffel - is a veteran journalist who covers southern Ontario for CBC National Radio News. He has also reported on the United States, Europe and most recently Afghanistan. Previously, he was a producer and reporter at BBC World Service.

The purpose of the town hall is threefold: (1) to provide Canadians with a comprehensive view of the current situation in Afghanistan, (2) to offer an outlet for a wide variety of stakeholders to express their views and opinions and (3) to generate a genuinely inclusive national dialogue

A broad range of topics will be addressed during the town hall, including: the resurgence of the Taliban and the general rise in violence, the role of Pakistan, the potential for talks with the Taliban, and the impact of the change of administration in the United States.

Canadians from across the country will have the opportunity to engage in the town hall at participating CIC branches via interactive video streaming technology. CIC branches in the cities of Victoria, Calgary, Waterloo, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax are participating in the debate.


The Way Forward in Afghanistan


Tuesday, December 9


7:00 - 7:10 pm, introduction of event, panelists and participating CIC branches

7:10 - 7:45 pm, opening remarks by panelists

7:45 - 8:55 pm, questions from audiences across Canada

8:55 - 9:00 pm, moderator's concluding remarks


The Centre for International Governance Innovation

57 Erb Street West, Waterloo, Ontario

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.