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Default No Afghan combat and no House debate - 03-31-2010, 06:27 PM

Canadians firm on pulling out by end of the year

[The Globe and Mail]
No Afghan combat and no House debate

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says there will be no debate in Parliament over Canada’s role in Afghanistan post-2011. This, as Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals are calling the Conservatives arrogant for conducting foreign policy over Canada’s airwaves. Again this morning, Mr. Cannon signaled in a television interview that his government is not willing to comply with any request for a parliamentary debate on the Afghan mission.
“We have made it clear that the military will not be [in Afghanistan] post-2011 and in that regard there is no need to have a debate in the House,” Mr. Cannon told CTV’s Canada AM.
“I don’t know how clear we can make this. … When we say there is no combat role for Canada post-2011 there is no combat role post 2011,” he said. “I have responded to this question on numerous occasions in the House of Commons.
“This is Canada’s firm [position] and we are not budging from it.”
His statement will certainly set up a fight in the Commons with the Opposition Liberals who want a say in what happens in Afghanistan once Canada’s military mission wraps up.
This potential battle was provoked by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who waded into the debate yesterday, telling CTV Power Play host Tom Clark that the Washington wants Canada to continue to play a role in Afghanistan post 2011.
As a result of her comments, Mr. Ignatieff has renewed his calls for a parliamentary debate and vote over any extension to Canada’s role. He said it was time for the government to come to Parliament with a proposition “we can evaluate.”
This morning, an Ignatieff official said the Foreign Affairs Minister was denying any request had been made by the Americans just late last week.
“Canadians should not have to watch the news to learn, from the U.S. Secretary of State, that the U.S. has made a request to Canada to extend its mission,” the official said.
“Don’t get me wrong, it was great for CTV to get an exclusive interview with Hillary Clinton, and we know that when she’s asked a question, she answers.
“But it also shows the arrogance of Stephen Harper. These issues should be debated in Parliament, not through news shows or photo-ops,” the official said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is to meet with Mrs. Clinton this morning and the issue will be likely raised again.

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