Canadian government asks Parliament to extend Afghan mission to 2011

Canada's minority Conservative government asked Parliament on Friday to extend the country's combat mission in Afghanistan to 2011, introducing a confidence motion that would trigger early elections if it is rejected. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government is under pressure to withdraw Canada's 2,500 troops after the deaths of 78 Canadian soldiers and a diplomat. Canadian opposition parties have threatened to bring down Harper's government if he does not end the combat mission in 2009 when it is set to expire unless extended by Canadian lawmakers. The confidence motion introduced Friday makes the two-year extension conditional on NATO providing more troops and equipment to back up Canadian forces in southern Kandahar province, a volatile former Taliban stronghold.