This paper considers lessons that can be drawn from the Canadian effort in Afghanistan, especially the challenges of trying to build security, governance and development in Kandahar. First, it examines how the Canadian Forces (CF) adapted over time, both in Afghanistan and in Ottawa. Second, it looks at the challenges presented by a minority government and what can be learned from this political context. Third, it examines what was learned about the constraining forces on Canadian defence policy — the Opposition and public opinion — and evaluates the consequences for Canada’s next military engagement. The paper concludes by developing the implications for Canada’s future missions.