Canada to vote on extending the mission in Afghanistan info
Harper says Afghan debate important for Canada
Last Updated Tue, 16 May 2006 23:45:54 EDT CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will lead off Wednesday's debate on whether to extend Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.The debate, scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET, will decide whether Canada's 2,300 troops will come home next February or stay in Afghanistan until early 2009.
On Tuesday, Harper said the mission is a vital one."What we are doing there is not just protecting our national interests, but [we are] providing international leadership and providing real advancement to the standard of living and human rights of the Afghan people. These are important things for which Canada should stand."
The opposition parties believe that if Canada extends its stay in Afghanistan it won't be able to respond to other trouble spots such as Darfur, Sudan.
"Did [the prime minister] realize that this would render Canada incapable of responding to other situations in the world?" asked NDP Leader Jack Layton.
Harper says that, for Canada, the priority is Afghanistan.
"We understand that a commitment of this magnitude creates some real constraints on our ability elsewhere," he said.
Casualty count raises questions
On Wednesday night, after a six-hour debate, MPs will vote on a motion for a two-year extension of Canada's diplomatic, development, civilian police and military personnel in Afghanistan, including funding and equipment.
Increasing casualties, including the deaths of 15 soldiers since 2002, have caused many Canadians to question how long Canada should be in Afghanistan.
The Liberals suggest that may be why Harper is putting it to a vote now — so that the mission extension is dealt with well before a possible election looms next year.
"It's not about whether or not the mission should be until February 2009," said Liberal defence critic Ujjal Dosanjh. "Now the question is whether or not it should be extended."
Layton also says MPs haven't been given much time to prepare.
"What we don't know is the nature of the extended mission. Canadians have not been told about it. MPs have not been told about it, yet they're going to be asked to vote on it after a few speeches on the House of Commons."
But Harper says MPs have had lots of time to decide.
"Members of this House, the parties of this House, have had five years to decide what their position is on this mission. We want to be sure that our troops have the support of this Parliament going forward."
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has just returned from a trip to Afghanistan. He says Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked about Canada's involvement after next February.
"They want to know that Canada is going to be there," said MacKay.
The NDP have already said they won't support extending the mission. Which leaves the Bloc Quebecois and the Liberals to decide the fate of the mission. The goverment needs the support of just one of these parties to extend the mission until February 2009.
632 Pheonix Telesat Wing - Royal Canadian Air Cadets
Last edited by Yoman; May 17th, 2006 at 12:48..