Source: Toronto Sun/News Canada
Following a day of debate in the House of Commons, MPs voted 189-98 to keep Canada’s hand in the military mission in the North African country.
In a speech to the House, Defence Minister Peter Mackay argued it’s no time to ease pressure as Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces make their final stand and that Canada’s armed forces have played a key role in enforcing the will of the international community over the past six months.
« Canada was in at the start, » he said. « We should be there until job is done. »
Canada joined the mission last March and extended it for three months in June, with only Green Party Leader Elizabeth May opposing Canada’s continued military involvement.
This time around, the NDP was calling for the mission to be shifted to humanitarian aid and democracy building.
« Our position is that Canada has done more than its share militarily and should now refocus its efforts on the other aspects of rebuilding of Libya, » NDP defence critic Jack Harris said.
NATO, which is heading the UN mandated mission, okayed a 90-day extension of the mission in Libya last week.
Fighting is still ongoing in Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte and in other parts of south-central Libya.
There are also food and medical shortages in the country.
Canada recently reopened its embassy in Libya, with Ottawa’s envoy Sandra McCardell telling a Commons committee last week she would be increasing ties with the National Transitional Council, monitoring the political situation and promoting Canada’s interests.
Meanwhile, at the UN on Monday, Libya’s de facto prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, called on NATO to continue its mission until Gadhafi loyalists had stopped killing civilians.
By Jessica Murphy
-With files from Reuters