Canadian government plans to extend Afghanistan mission

The Canadian government plans to extend the country’s Afghanistan mission until at least 2011 — two years beyond the proposed February 2009 deadline.

But the extension would be put to a vote during this coming parliamentary session, according to the Conservatives Throne Speech, delivered by Governor General Michaelle Jean Tuesday.

The speech ties Canada’s exit strategy to the training of Afghan security forces, including the army and police.

The Tory government says it believes those elements should be able to stand on their own by 2011.

All opposition parties want to end the mission on schedule and the New Democratic Party is calling for a withdrawal immediately.

Observers say that the statement is likely to push the Liberals into a political corner, giving them further reason to vote against the speech and trigger an election.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Friday that a five-member group led by former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley would make a recommendation by the end of January on what Canada should do when its commitment to the NATO mission expires in 2009.

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