Vote could extend Canada's commitment to Afghanistan by 2 years
Last Updated Mon, 15 May 2006 21:47:46 EDT
The Conservative government is planning to move what has been described as a "substantial" motion in the House of Commons, extending Canada's troop commitment in Afghanistan by two years.
* INDEPTH: Afganistan
The current mission is scheduled to end in February 2007, but since coming to power, the Conservatives have told Canadians that they believe the military should stay for the long haul.
The issue has been discussed in the backrooms on Parliament Hill for the past few days. But pressure from the Harper government came to a head on Monday afternoon, resulting in an agreement from all parties for a debate on Afghanistan, beginning Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.
* INDEPTH: Canada's Military
The debate will last for six hours, and there will be a vote at 9:15 p.m. on extending the mission.
If the vote passes, the mission would be extended to February 2009.
Canada faces pressure
CBC correspondent Paul Hunter reported Monday night that there's "pressure on Canada to make up it's mind shortly.
"If it's going to continue in Afghanistan, the coalition would need to know, so that it doesn't have to line up troops from other countries."
In political terms, the motion could also wipe Afghanistan off the table for the Harper government as a problem in the House of Commons. If he loses the vote, opposition parties could face accusations of being soft on support for Canada's troops; if Harper wins, it effectively removes the issue as something for which the new prime minister could be criticized, since he would have won support in Parliament.
Canada has about 2,300 members of the military stationed in Afghanistan. Most are in Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, where they are part of a NATO-led mission.
In total, 15 members of the Canadian military have been killed in Afghanistan.
Most recently, four soldiers were killed near Gumbad, north of Kandahar, on April 22, when their vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb.