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The Hamilton Spectator
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Saturday February 2, 2008
Tugged by Conservatives on one side, and New Democrats on the other, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion also faces internal tension in caucus over policy on Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.

A year of Liberal solidarity has shown signs of strain around Mr. Dion's position that Canada's combat operation in Kandahar should end as scheduled in February 2009.

It's against that backdrop that Mr. Dion, whose party's vote in the Commons could make or break an extension of the mission, meets Monday with NDP Leader Jack Layton and later, at a yet unscheduled date, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mr. Layton wants a full withdrawal of Canada's 2,500 troops from Afghanistan. Mr. Harper has embraced the John Manley panel recommendations for an extension of the combat role on condition NATO sends 1,000 more troops and Ottawa sends more equipment.

Mr. Dion wants an end to combat activities in a year's time and reassign troops to training and to security activities for civilian protection, development and reconstruction.

He warns against a "never-ending mission" and notes that the former Liberal government that sent troops to Afghanistan to begin with committed Canada to the Afghanistan Compact, which expires in 2011. The compact is an international agreement to help restore Afghanistan. Source...

Watch for wobbles on Dion's Afghanistan line
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