Canada's mission in Libya extended
National Transitional Council recognized as representative of Libyan people
- Canada recognizes Libya's National Transitional Council as legitimate
- 'Enhanced engagement strategy' with NTC will include sharing expertise
- Canada pledges further $2 million in aid
- NDP moves amendment on prevention and prosecution of use of rape
The House of Commons has overwhelmingly voted to extend Canada's mission in Libya for 3½ months.
The Conservative motion passed by a vote of 294-1, with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May being the lone member of Parliament to vote against.
May had said she was against giving "a blank cheque to a mission that doesn't have an exit strategy."
Former Conservative minister Chuck Strahl joins strategists Rob Silver and Ian Capstick in the Power & Politics War Room to discuss the debate on Canada's Libyan mission. Listen to the podcast
Canada pledges additional $2M in aid
International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda announced a further $2 million in aid to Libya Tuesday.
"The situation in Libya remains volatile, as thousands of people remain in need of ongoing assistance within and beyond Libyan borders," Oda said in a statement. "Access continues to be difficult as the need for food, water, sanitation, protection services and medical supplies increases."
Canada is giving $1.75 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), together with the Red Crescent Societies of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, and $250,000 to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to protect women and girls from gender-based violence — including sexual assault — and provide critical care to survivors in Libya.
Canada has about 650 people working to enforce the no-fly zone as part of a NATO mission to protect Libyans from a bombing campaign by strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
MPs began debating whether to extend Canada's mission in the country on Tuesday morning.
Earlier, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the mission isn't over yet, as Gadhafi continues to wage war against his own people.
"Canada and our international partners must continue to show resolve, patience and determination to go the distance and help Libyans secure their future. We must extend our military mission there," he said.
Amendments focus on aid, prevention of war rape
NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar proposed amendments to the government's resolution, including an increase in humanitarian aid, a focus on preventing and prosecuting rape as a tool of war, and a pledge to keep troops off the ground.
"It is to make sure that we protect civilians," Dewar said.
"This is a critical point for Canadians. We can't decide on whom we like and don't like and go around the world taking out people we don't like. We have to abide by UN resolutions, by international law."
NDP Leader Jack Layton had said the party will only support one extension to the mission, and only if the government accepts his party's amendments.
"This is a one-time extension that we're offering to support. If we end up finding ourselves three months down the road with further requests for extensions, those are not extensions we'll support because quite clearly we would have moved into some very new phase in this conflict," he said after question period.
"[In three months] we'll no longer be in the situation of an immediate, urgent response such as we found ourselves three months ago. We will clearly be into something that is much longer term."
Text of Libya motion
Read the full text of the government's motion and the amendments proposed by the NDP and Liberals.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the NATO mission is weakening the infrastructure around Gadhafi and the leader who has run the country for 41 years is losing support.
"Withdrawing the Canadian Forces from the NATO-led mission at this point would send the wrong signal. It would have dire consequences for the citizens of Libya, it would be contrary to the core Canadian values of freedom, democracy and human rights, it would not conform to our commitment to the international community and it would undermine the credibility of the North Atlantic Alliance," he said.
Liberal Leader Bob Rae said he agreed with the NDP's amendments, moving his own amendment calling for the government to engage with the NTC.
"We live in a world that's not stable, where democracy isn't there for everyone or human rights aren't respected," Rae said, defining the debate around the rights of citizens.
"Do we simply take the case of national sovereignty and say we can never intervene in the affairs of another country ... or do we understand that the entire evolution of international law has taken us to this point, that we have to say whatever goes on inside a country is just as important as what happens between countries?"
"The answers are not always simple and in fact the answers are not always clear. But we are slowly but surely as a world taking the human footsteps to the point where we can say we will not allow people to be brutalized by their government.
"We will not simply sit back and do nothing. We will intervene. And yes, that intervention may have a military component. And people will be killed as a result of that intervention. And none of us should ... take joy in the fact that is a consequence of what happens," Rae said.
Baird also announced that the Canadian government is officially recognizing the National Transitional Council of Libya as the legitimate representative of Libyan citizens.
"Canada is embarking on an enhanced engagement strategy with the National Transitional Council of Libya," Baird said Tuesday, adding Canada will provide governance expertise to the council.
"Our government will engage with the institutions and representatives of the NTC. I will be seeking a meeting with my counterparts on the NTC – the vice-chairman and its ambassador to the United Nations. We will identify members of the NTC responsible for domestic issues and propose meetings with their Canadian counterparts.