Canada extends NATO mission in Libya

Sept. 27, 2011 at 8:59 AM
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OTTAWA, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Canada's Conservative government has extended the country's NATO military role in Libya for another three months, officials said.

In Ottawa, Defense Minister Peter MacKay told Parliament Monday night Canadian fighter jets, surveillance and refueling aircraft and a navy frigate would remain in Italy and the Mediterranean Sea for 90 more days, Postmedia News reported. The original government commitment to the international operation expired Tuesday.

In late March, the United Nations authorized NATO to protect civilians from the Libyan military under Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who authorized live fire on civilians calling for him to step down.

Under Canada's political system, the government didn't require a parliamentary vote on the mission, as the cabinet is authorized to make such decisions unilaterally. However, it was put to a vote and passed 189-98 after MacKay spoke of national obligations.

"Canada was in at the very beginning and we should be there until the job is done," he said. "Canada has never shirked a responsibility and certainly we cannot do so now."

Three months into the NATO mission in June, MacKay said the country was expected to spend $60 million by the end of September. Government figures obtained by Postmedia showed more than $37 million was spent on bombs in the first three months of the operation.

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