John Manley and his advisory group are expected to release a highly anticipated report this week advising Parliament on Canada's role Afghanistan once the current combat mission expires in February 2009.


John Manley talks to reporters at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan in November 2007. ((Bill Graveland/Canadian Press))

The report is expected Tuesday or Wednesday.

The advisory panel and Manley, a former Liberal cabinet minister and one-time leadership contender, were appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last October to consider four options:

  • Keep training Afghan troops and police to be self-sustaining when Canadian troops withdraw.
  • Focus on reconstruction in Kandahar with another NATO country taking over security.
  • Shift Canadian security and reconstruction to another region of Afghanistan.
  • Withdraw the main body of Canada's troops in February 2009.

The panel has received more than 200 submissions from interested people and organizations, including those from the Liberal party and the Green party, the CBC's Rosemary Barton reported. The NDP and the Bloc Québécois, which have been critical of the panel, didn't submit suggestions, she said.

The group — which includes former broadcaster Pamela Wallin, Derek Burney, former ambassador to Washington and one-time chief of staff to former prime minister Brian Mulroney, Paul Tellier, former clerk of the privy council and Jake Epp, a former Mulroney cabinet minister — also spent 10 days touring Afghanistan in November.

Former colonel Alain Pellerin, who presented before the panel, said he believes it will recommend that Canada remain in Afghanistan.

"But obviously the focus will shift towards more mentoring and training" of Afghan security forces, he said.

The findings won't be binding but will carry weight in the discussions about Canada's future role in Afghanistan given that Harper has also promised to allow MPs to vote on the issue in Parliament.

Harper appointed the panel amid a political debate over what Canada should do when the mandate of its current Afghan commitment runs out in February 2009. The Conservatives are leaning toward a continuation of Canadian troops working in the region, while other parties are demanding that the troops come home.