Canada winding down Libyan mission in 2 weeks
Published Thursday, October 20, 2011 10:08PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 6:19AM EDT
Canada's military mission in Libya will wind down within the next two weeks, government sources confirmed on Thursday afternoon.
A senior source in Ottawa, who has been working on the Libyan file, confirmed the timeline to CTV's Mercedes Stephenson hours after the deposed North African despot Moammar Gadhafi was killed.
Canadian fighter jets have been taking part in airstrikes in the NATO mission, which was launched in March after Gadhafi brutally clamped down on anti-government protests in Libyan cities like Benghazi.
Earlier, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Libyans were beginning a new chapter in their history.
He also told reporters that he is looking forward to working with Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) to help move the country in a more peaceful direction.
"Gadhafi's days are over," he said. "Never again will he be in a position to support terrorism or to turn guns on his own people. The Libyan people can finally turn the page."
Anticipation gripped the international community as the world waited for officials to confirm Gadhafi's death.
Even before Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril verified that Gadhafi was killed when fighters surged into his hometown of Sirte, people living thousands of kilometres away were weighing in on unconfirmed reports of the death.
Thousands of messages poured into Twitter and Facebook as media outlets raced to substantiate various reports on the death.
U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated the Libyan people, saying that they've won their revolution.
"One year ago, the notion of a free Libya seemed impossible but then the Libyan people rose up and demanded their rights," he told reporters.
Shortly after the news was confirmed, British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters the news signalled the dawn of a new era for Libya.
"People in Libya today have an even greater chance, after this news, of building themselves a strong and democratic future," Cameron said at the brief conference.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae echoed that sentiment, issuing a release stating that his party also supports the NTC's efforts to reform Libya.
"Ridding Libya of Moammar [Gadhafi] and his tyrannical regime is but the first step on a long road to transparency, accountability and democracy for the Libyan population," Rae said in the statement issued Thursday.
Officials at the White House were more tight-lipped about the death.
Unnamed United States authorities told The Associated Press that they were monitoring reports on Gadhafi's capture and killing but said they couldn't confirm any information.
Elsewhere in the United States, news of Gadhafi's defeat took on a special significance for one New Jersey family.
Susan Cohen lost her 20-year-old daughter in the 1988 Pan-Am bombing, a terror attack linked to Libya that killed 270 people — most of them Americans.
Cohen told The Associated Press that she plans to buy a bottle of expensive champagne to celebrate Gadhafi's death. She added that she hopes the deposed leader left evidence of Libya's involvement in the bombing.
Gadhafi's death is equally as personal for some Libyan expatriates living in Canada.
Amal Abuzgaya's parents moved from Libya to Canada in 1984. The Libyan-Canadian activist said she's visited the country several times over the years and said Gadhafi leaves a legacy of oppression.
"Libya has always been a country that I've known as a fear-mongering culture. Fear infiltrated every part of their life," she told CTV News Channel on Thursday.
Abuzgaya said she called her aunt and uncle in Benghazi as soon as she learned of Gadhafi's death. Her relatives told her that they were out on the streets of the city "celebrating openly with everyone around them."
Salhin Elgheriani of Toronto spent all day trying to reach his mother, who lives in Libya.
"She always told me the day of liberation is the day that Gadhafi is either caught or killed," Elgheriani said.
AT Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square, Libyan-Canadians gathered to celebrate the death of Gadhafi.
Citizens on the streets of Sirte were the first to respond to the ousted leader's killing, hoisting signs and rifles into the air in celebration.
Video captured in the coastal city shows crowds of young fighters dancing in circles and flashing a hand signal for "peace" to the cameraperson.
Freelance reporter Khadija Ali witnessed a similar scene on the streets of Libya's capital Tripoli.
Ali lived in Canada five years ago, but moved back to Libya where she currently works as a reporter for the Tripoli Post.
"In Canada I saw what freedom was, I lived freedom. When I came back to Libya, I couldn't find that freedom that I was so used to," she said.
Her voice broke as she described how she wanted access to education and health care without having to leave her country of birth.
"I'm a Libyan who dreamed of freedom," she said with a quivering voice. "I've been waiting forever for this moment.