MacKay defends Canadian troops involved in allied Afghan combat posts
Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Tuesday October 16, 2012. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Tuesday, October 16, 2012 4:54PM EDT
OTTAWA -- For the second day in row, Defence Minister Peter MacKay has had to fend off Opposition attacks over Canadian troops serving in combat roles with allies in Afghanistan.
Fewer than half a dozen members of the military -- most of them with the air force -- are part of exchange programs with British, Australian and U.S. forces, all of which are still+ engaged in anti-Taliban operations in Kandahar.
New Democrat defence critic Jack Harris accuses MacKay of misleading the House of Commons and the public, which expected no Canadians would be in harm's way after Canada withdrew from southern Afghanistan last year.
Harris also says the exchange program violates the motion passed by the Commons in 2008, which ordered an end to Canadian combat operations by the end of 2011.
MacKay denied the exchange program contravened the motion and says the participation is part of the country's broader, long-standing spirit of co-operating with allies.