Post-Gadhafi era up to Libya, Canada's envoy says

Sandra McCardell, ambassador to Libya, says any peace settlement must come from Libyans. Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada is expelling Libya's remaining diplomats.

Canada to expel all remaining Libyan diplomats

Rebel fighters from the Tripoli Brigade relax at their base close to the front line near the town of Tiji, western Libya, Monday. The rebel fighters of the Tripoli Brigade have a single purpose - to be among the first to enter the Libyan capital and kick out Moammar Gadhafi and his loyalists, aided by their intimate knowledge of the city. (Balint Szlanko/The Associated Press)

It's not up to anyone outside Libya to decide what happens to dictator Moammar Gadhafi if he's forced from power, Canada's ambassador to the country said Monday.

Sandra McCardell, ambassador to Libya, says it's Canada's position, as well as that of NATO, that Gadhafi must go.

But what happens next is up to Libyans, she told MPs at a briefing to the House of Commons foreign affairs committee.

"What transition follows is for the Libyan people to determine. It's their country and they're responsible for developing a transitional government," she said. "It will be up to them to determine their future."

Pushed on the question, McCardell said, "There's no support for impunity" for Gadhafi, but the terms of an eventual peace settlement will come from the two sides on the ground.

"I don't believe the Libyan people … have any interest in returning [to the system under Gadhafi]," she said.

Canada kicking out Libyan diplomats

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued a statement Monday saying Canada is expelling all remaining Libyan diplomats.

Baird described the decision as the "latest step Canada has taken to isolate and delegitimize the Gadhafi regime," adding that the diplomats will have five business days to vacate the Libyan Embassy and leave the country.

Baird said the government is also cutting off the diplomats' access to the embassy's bank accounts.

Canada expelled several  Libyan diplomats in May.

Baird visited the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi in June to meet with members of the National Transitional Council.

Canada and other Western countries, including Britain and the United States, recognizes the NTC as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people.

With files from The Canadian Press

Canada's military mission in Libya is helping keep anti-Moammar Gadhafi forces alive as they try to bring him down after more than 40 years of rule, Maj.-Gen. Jonathan Vance said Monday.

NATO bomb attacks in the country have made it harder for Gadhafi to target civilians, and are ensuring the rebel groups can keep fighting on the ground, Vance said.

Canada deployed its first ship and planes to Libya last winter to protect civilians from air attacks by Gadhafi. Originally intended as a three-month mission, Parliament has since extended it once, to Sept. 27.

'Civilians into soldiers'

But anti-Gadhafi forces have proven disorganized and ill-equipped against the pro-Gadhafi forces that Vance said are well-financed, leaving the conflict in flux.

Currently, the anti-Gadhafi forces control the supply lines in the country, but the pro-Gadhafi forces have support in the country's cities.

"As the anti-Gadhafi forces gain resources, benefit from some experience, their capacity to turn people who were basically civilians into soldiers and gain some momentum, we're seeing incremental increases and improvements," Vance said.

"I don't think we're anticipating a cataclysmic military end as a result of anti-Gadhafi force ground movement, but it's slow and steady."

Canada has recognized the National Transitional Council as legitimate representatives of the Libyan people, leaving it up to them and the rebel forces to remove Gadhafi from power.

McCardell is back in Ottawa after leaving Libya on Feb. 26, shortly after the conflict started.

"I evacuated on a C-17 as well," she said. "Everything that I have is in a house in Tripoli."

No plans to extend mission

NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar says Canada shouldn't extend its military commitment beyond Sept. 27, but move to more diplomatic efforts.

"There is not one person, even on the military side, who thinks that the goals will be achieved through military means. Let's acknowledge that and let's not sleepwalk into another ongoing conflict," Dewar said after the committee.

"We need to put our focus on the diplomatic side and the political side," he said, adding that Canada has achieved its goal of preventing Gadhafi from massacring Libyan people.

McCardell said she's not aware of any intention to extend the military mission beyond Sept. 27.

"At this point, I am not aware of any plans to bring forward a new resolution on Libya," she said, referring to a House of Commons resolution to support the UN operation.

Bob Dechert, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, pointed to Vance's comments about what NATO has achieved, and said no one knows what the end of September will bring. Dechert referred to reports Monday the rebels were within 80 kilometres of Tripoli, Libya's capital city and Gadhafi's seat of power.

"I'm confident that there will be a successful conclusion either through diplomatic means or through rebel military action," Dechert told host Rosemary Barton on CBC's Power & Politics.