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Canada's House of Commons extends Afghan mission

  • Story Highlights
  • Troops to stay until 2011, with the stipulation that NATO contribute more forces
  • Most of Canada's 2,500 troops in Afghanistan are in Kandahar province
  • The Canadian mission in Afghanistan was to end next February
  • Critics say the cost has not been disclosed to Parliament or the public
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(CNN) -- Canada's House of Commons voted Thursday to extend the country's military mission in Afghanistan until 2011, with the stipulation that NATO send reinforcements to the volatile Kandahar province.

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Canadian soldiers walk along a track at the Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan last month.

Most of Canada's 2,500 troops in Afghanistan are in Kandahar as part of the NATO-led mission to stabilize the war-torn country.

Their presence has sparked controversy in Canada, with the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party calling for an immediate troop withdrawal.

Supporters of the mission argued that Canadians have made progress in providing schools, health care and clean water for thousands of Afghans.

They said the improving conditions would be impossible without troops ensuring a secure environment for aid workers and local residents.

"The military needs to be there," said Harold Albrecht, a conservative member of Parliament. "The military provides the civil order we would expect from police here."

The Canadian mission in Afghanistan was to end next February. It has claimed the lives of 80 soldiers and a diplomat, according to The Associated Press.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has endorsed a panel's recommendation to keep troops in place only if another NATO nation dispatches additional troops to Kandahar.

Canada wants a minimum of 1,000 reinforcements, The Globe and Mail reported.

Thursday's motion, passed with a 198-77 vote, brought Harper's Conservative party and the opposition Liberals together on the issue.

Other parties, however, noted that the cost of maintaining a troop presence in Afghanistan has not been disclosed to Parliament or the public.

"We must provide clarity to the Canadian people," said Nathan Cullen of the New Democratic Party. "We believe it to be wrong for our country." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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