OTTAWA — The crisis in Afghanistan — alongside the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — has thrown up an alarming backdrop to the federal election, which could overshadow the campaign efforts of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as his government's record comes under scrutiny.
Party leaders hit the road last week just as the fourth wave began to surge and Kabul fell to the Taliban, prompting a desperate push to ramp up evacuation efforts for Canadian expats and former Afghan support staff at the capital's airport — an effort that ended early this morning.
Trudeau has faced questions daily about the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, where Canada boarded some 3,700 Canadian nationals and Afghan refugees onto evacuation flights in the past few weeks.
Reports of an explosion near the Kabul airport this morning confirmed by the Pentagon again took attention away from the Liberal leader's campaign message about support for seniors during a campaign stop in Quebec City.
Trudeau called it a "very difficult day" but said Ottawa's commitment to resettle more than 20,000 Afghans in Canada and support residents in the war-torn region will continue.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Canada's exit was a "failure," while Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole had said Wednesday Trudeau has "abandoned people there" and waited too long to act.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 26, 2021.
The Canadian Press