Monday, June 25, 2007

Harper says consensus needed to extend Afghan mission.

I wonder what Harper is up to? Is it a face saving tactic or does he really think that he will gain support from the Liberals or BQ great enough to claim a consensus. It will be a strange consensus if some parties oppose any extension at all as the NDP might unless the role is solely aid for reconstruction.

'Consensus' needed to extend Afghan mission: PM
Last Updated: Friday, June 22, 2007 | 2:25 PM ET
CBC News
The Conservative government will not extend Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan beyond February 2009 without a consensus in Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.

"I will want to see some degree of consensus among Canadians on how we move forward on that," Harper told reporters Friday in Ottawa.

"I don't want to send people on a mission if the opposition is going to, at home, undercut the dangerous work they're doing in the field."

The 2009 deadline was set in May 2006, when the Conservatives announced a vote on a two-year extension for the mission and, a few days later, squeezed it through Parliament in a vote of 149-145.

But Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion has since made it clear that his party will oppose any extension of the mission beyond February 2009.

'He wants to stay': Dion
Dion accused Harper on Friday of deliberately creating ambiguity over Canada's future role in Afghanistan.



"If he were responsible, he would tell the Afghan government and our allies that the Canadian combat mission in Kandahar would end in February 2009 and they should prepare themselves on that basis," Dion told reporters after Harper spoke.

"To keep saying these ambiguous things, it's because he wants to stay."

Harper said Friday that he didn't believe Canadians wanted "simply to abandon" the democratically elected Afghan government and said he hoped for a "meeting of minds" in determining Canada's role beyond the deadline.

His comments came a day after NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer appealed for Canada to remain with the fighting and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan beyond 2009.

Since Canada started its Afghan mission in 2002, it has lost one diplomat and 60 soldiers, including three soldiers who were killed this week by an improvised explosive device.

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