Cannon's answer is clear and at the same time unclear about whether troops will remain in Afghanistan. The U.S. probably will request more troops and I would not be surprised if Ignatieff might support this if they are involved in other than combat roles. Right now he is just trying to embarrass the Conservatives a bit and put them on the spot. However, he is eliciting nothing but a weasel word response as might be expected. This is from the Globe and Mail.
Afghan withdrawal date puts
Lawrence Cannon in hot seat
Michael Ignatieff is demanding a vote in Parliament on any extension to the military mission in Afghanistan, accusing the government of conducting foreign policy in secret.
The Liberal Leader was reacting to a report in The Globe and Mail today that the U.S. government will request Canada keep as many as 500 to 600 troops in Afghanistan after the military mission ends in 2011. According to the story, sources inside and outside government say the formal request is expected to come toward the end of the year through NATO.
“Will someone in this government tell us what in heaven’s name is going on?” Mr. Ignatieff demanded in Question Period. “The government didn’t bring this before the Canadian people. This is no way to run the foreign policy of a serious government.
“Will the government commit to putting any deployment in Afghanistan past 2011 to a vote in Parliament?”
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon dismissed the report, saying no request has been received. “Let me reassure the Opposition Leader that our military mission will end in 2011 as we’ve indicated in the Speech from the Throne,” Mr. Cannon said.
The Conservative government has repeatedly said the military mission will end in July 2011.
Earlier today, Stephen Harper, who was in London, Ont. to make a job announcement, called talk of this request entirely speculative. “We’ve received no such request. The Canadian Forces continue to plan for Canada's end to the military mission in 2011,” the Prime Minister said.
But the opposition is having trouble with that.
The NDP is suspicious the government is wording its answers in such a way as to leave the door open for troops to remain in Afghanistan. “Yes or no, all troops gone from Afghanistan in 2011? Yes or No?” demanded NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair after accusing Mr. Cannon of answering one way in French and another in English.
“Two very different answers,” Mr. Mulcair said. “One refers to the military mission, the other is a very general statement that we are gone.”
Replied Mr. Cannon: “The military mission will end in 2011.”