Harper wants MPs to agree to an extended military mission in Libya
DEAUVILLE, France -- The G8 leaders agree that more must be done to oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and Prime Minister Stephen Harper will ask Parliament next month to extend the Canadian military mission there.
But Canada appears to be on the sidelines of two other major declarations at the G8 summit in this quaint, French seaside town -- how to help Middle Eastern countries who've already kicked out their dictators and how to resolve one of the oldest conflicts in the region between Israel and the Palestinians.
While the leaders agreed that multilateral lending institutions could funnel up to $20 billion to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia which are struggling to become democracies, there were also calls for bilateral assistance both from the G8 and Persian Gulf states.
Canada isn't giving any more money, saying it's already met its obligations to development banks to the tune of $12 billion since 2009.
Plus, said Harper, Canada is already doing its part in the form of its military contribution in Libya.
"We've had good, strong, support across parties in Parliament for this mission,'' Harper told reporters at the close of the G8 summit on Friday.
"I would hope now that we continue to have it here, internationally... I hope that would encourage Parliament to continue to support the actions of the Canadian Forces.''
The House of Commons approved a three-month operation in mid-March.
Canadian CF-18 fighter-bombers have since flown hundreds of missions against targets in Libya and a Canadian commander is currently in charge of the NATO mission.
Canada has seven CF-18s, three aerial tankers, two maritime patrol planes and a navy frigate assigned to the Libyan operation.
NATO's involvement in the North African nation was a hotly debated topic around the G8 table, as the Russians have been critical about what they called an excessive use of force by NATO and urged a quick end to hostilities.
But all eight leaders agreed Friday that the Gadhafi regime has to leave.
"Gadhafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfil their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy,'' said the declaration released at the end of the summit.
"He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go.''
While the leaders are prepared to continue to wage war in Libya, they reiterated a call for peace in Israel and Palestine, piggybacking on a landmark speech by U.S. President Barack Obama last week.
The G8 declaration on that conflict did not include one of the most contentious elements of Obama's proposal _ that a peace deal take as its starting point the borders between the two nations in 1967, the year Israel seized East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
European diplomats told Reuters that 1967 wasn't included because Canada objected.
Harper neither confirmed nor denied that report. He told reporters that while he broadly supports the theme of Obama's speech, bits of it cannot be cherry-picked as the basis for a peace deal.
"I would support any statement on finding peace in the Middle East that was balanced,'' he said.
"I would not support any statement that was not balanced.''
This year's G8 summit differed from the one hosted by Canada last year in Toronto in that leaders focused most of their energy on current events, rather than traditional subjects such as international development.
Some aid agencies said they were concerned the G8 is drifting away from that purpose.
Oxfam spokeswoman Emma Seery said more time should have been carved out to discuss current and long-standing challenges.
The G8 countries have every right to spend time thinking about the big picture, but "their core business needs to be taken seriously,'' she said.
"They can't open up huge agendas with so many things on the table left to deal with.''