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Pte. Jonathan Couturier, 23, died in an IED strike southwest of Kandahar city on Sept. 17. ((DND/Canadian Press))

Family members of the latest Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan told a Quebec City newspaper that the young soldier considered the mission "a bit useless."

 

Nicolas Couturier, brother of Pte. Jonathan Couturier, told Le Soleil that the 23-year-old soldier had mixed emotions about being in Afghanistan.

"That war, he thought it was a bit useless, that they were wasting their time there," he was quoted telling Le Soleil.

"He didn't talk about it," Nicolas told the newspaper. "He was positive, but at certain moments, let's just say he was fed up."

Jonathan Couturier died Thursday morning when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb while returning from a mission in the Panjwaii district, southwest of Kandahar city.

The soldier's sister-in-law and his brother's spouse, Valerie Boucher, also told the newspaper Jonathan "didn't want to go" and was very much looking forward to coming home.

Nicolas Couturier was also critical of the Afghanistan mission, saying it "is not serving anything."

Bloc backs criticism

The family's comments, coming on the same day Couturier's body was flown from Kandahar on its way to Canada, sparked a reaction from political leaders, with the Bloc Québécois's defence critic saying he agrees with the family.

"I endorse the comments of the young man and I endorse the comments of his family," said Claude Bachand.

The New Democratic Party has also been critical of the mission in Afghanistan, but MP Joe Comartin said Couturier's death was not in vain.

"It's hard to say to the family, was this a waste? I don't say that to them because I don't believe that," Comartin said outside the House of Commons.

"On the other hand, we've done more than our share. Canadians have done more than their share in terms of contributing our soldiers. The faster we get out of a combat mission and just deal with other issues that we can deal with, the better it will be for the whole country."

Comments against the mission are rare for family members of fallen soldiers, but they echo the complaint of Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, who, in a commentary published Sunday in the Montreal Gazette, said the war was futile.

"If there were significant signs of progress, then maybe our huge investment would make sense," he wrote. "But that isn't the case."

Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, commander of Canada's Task Force Kandahar, responded to Kenny's comments earlier this week after the death of another soldier, Pte. Patrick Lormand.

"He does not need to be told his efforts are futile, for he could see positive results in the communities he was protecting," said Vance, referring to Lormand.

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean last week also waded into the debate over Afghanistan, saying after a recent visit that Canada's mission was improving lives in the country.

In a ceremony Friday, more than 2,500 Canadian and international soldiers were present at Kandahar Airfield as Couturier's body was carried in a flag-draped casket to a military transport aircraft.

His colleagues lauded him for his sense of humour and ability to display it even during difficult times.

Couturier was the 131st Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002.

With files from The Canadian Press