Panel to release report on Canada's future in Afghanistan on Tuesday

An independent panel will issue a report on Canada's future role in Afghanistan on Tuesday amid pressure to withdraw troops from the southern province of Kandahar. Canada's Conservative prime minister, who favors an extension of the mission that is set to expire in 2009, appointed a prominent former Liberal leader last October to head a panel to plan the country's future role in a conflict that has claimed the lives of 77 Canadian soldiers and a diplomat. The deaths have made the operation increasingly unpopular with Canadians. Opposition parties have threatened to bring down Stephen Harper's minority government if he does not end the combat mission in the south where Canada has about 2,500 troops stationed in Kandahar, the former Taliban stronghold. John Manley, a former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, will release his report Tuesday morning. Manley has been a strong supporter of the Canadian presence in Afghanistan.