NDP opposed to extending Libya mission
The NDP doesn’t support extending Canada’s mission in Libya, Interim Leader Nycole Turmel said Wednesday, despite hints the Conservative government wants to do so one more time.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird have both stopped just short of saying the air campaign over Libya will be extended, with House Leader Peter Van Loan telling CBC Radio that the government will ask Parliament to pass a motion to extend the mission.
A spokesman for Van Loan later clarified, saying Van Loan meant only to say that if the government wanted to extend the mission, then they would table the motion in the House of Commons.
Turmel, the leader of the official opposition, says the NDP doesn't want to extend the mission again.
"We think the work has been done," she said.
"We are not considering at all a prolongation or adding months or time to the mission in Libya."
The government has a majority of seats in the House, so isn't expected to lose any potential votes on extending the mission in Libya.
Canada has been part of the NATO mission to protect civilians since March, with the House of Commons unanimously supporting a three-month extension. That extension is up Sept. 27.
Canadian officials say the NATO air war was vital to allowing rebel forces to continue fighting, eventually deposing Moammar Gadhafi after almost 42 years in power.
Libya's top diplomat in Canada, Abubaker Karmos, says civilians in his country are still in danger as long as Gadhafi is at large. It's not known where he is now.
In an interview on CBC Radio's The House on Sept. 3, Van Loan said he was optimistic MPs would support the motion.
"It will be our intention to extend the mission for a little bit at least and we'll have to do that by going to Parliament – that's what we have done for the previous motions where we have gained all-party support for the mission.
"I know the NDP have made rumblings, but surely with the success that's happening there on the ground I'd be surprised to see much opposition to completing what has been a very successful mission."
NDP MPs said throughout the summer they wanted the mission to shift to one of diplomacy to try to find a resolution.