GG praises Canada's effort in Afghanistan

Gov. Gen. David Johnston praises the efforts of Canadians working in Afghanistan in a New Year's message released Tuesday.
Gov. Gen. David Johnston says peace and education are key to rebuilding family life in Afghanistan. ((Chris Wattie/Reuters))

Gov. Gen. David Johnston praised the efforts of Canadians working in Afghanistan in a New Year's message released Tuesday.

In the message, Johnston recalled a trip he took to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in November.

"I saw a lot of despair," he said. "But I also saw Canadians helping and contributing their talents."

He spoke of a Canadian project in Kandahar province to rebuild 50 schools and train teachers, saying rebuilding schools and "ensuring the peace that will permit boys and girls to have an education are key to reconstructing family life in Afghanistan."

"Ten years ago there were fewer than 700,000 children going to school in Afghanistan," he said. "Today there are more than six million, one-third of them girls, and counting."

He said Canadians should be inspired by the "courage, determination and conviction" of the members of the Canadian Forces and also praised the civilians working at their side to "build a better society" in Afghanistan.

Johnston also urged Canadians not to rest on their laurels.

"As we embark on a new year, let us not forget our neighbour in need," he said. "Let us all work together towards a smarter and more caring nation."

Johnston, who was sworn in as Canada's 28th governor general in October, also praised the performance of Canadian athletes at the Vancouver Winter Games and said he wishes Canadians "health, happiness and peace."

With files from The Canadian Press