Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced on February 14th that Canada will extend its military support for the French operation in Mali (Murray Brewster, “Canada to extend Mali Mission by a Month,” Global News, 14 February 2013):
Defence Minister Peter MacKay says a heavy-lift Canadian air force transport plane will continue to assist French forces in Mali for another month.
The commitment involving the C-17 Globemaster, which has been shuttling war material, vehicles and troops between France and the Malian capital of Bamako, was set to expire [on February 15th].
MacKay confirmed the extension to March 15 outside of the House of Commons on Thursday following question period. …
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last month that he would reach out to the Opposition parties to seek a “broad” national consensus Canada’s next steps – a reflection of fears the war in Mali would be a drawn-out conflict.
The Commons foreign affairs committee has held a series of hearings, mostly fact-finding sessions.
Thursday’s news of the C-17 extension caught Opposition members off guard.
NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said there’s been virtually no dialogue, in spite of the government’s promise to consult the House about the mission.
“What we need to know from the government is, what was the basis of this extension?” Dewar said.
“We need some details. Having a minister announce this as he’s walking up the stairs isn’t helpful. It’s not open and it’s not what the government said it would do on Mali.”
The minister provided no information about the operations of the Canadian special forces soldiers deployed in Mali. According to news reports the soldiers are there to protect the Canadian embassy in Bamako.
Photo credit: DND