Fighting terrorists in Afghanistan is better than waiting until they show up in Vancouver, Montreal or Ottawa, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor told the Commons on Monday.
MPs debated Canada's role in Afghanistan amid growing casualty lists, blood-curdling threats from terrorists and polls which suggest Canadians are divided on the mission.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said the debate was a chance to ask key questions, including some raised by O'Connor himself while he was defence critic: What is Canada's role? How long will it take? How is victory to be defined?
Layton said Canadians incorrectly thought the mission was one of traditional peacekeeping and have been taken aback by recent gun battles between Canadian and Taliban forces.
Terror attacks against civilians as well as foreign and Afghan troops are now routine. Afghan authorities say domestic insurgents have been reinforced from outside the country, with Iraqi-style suicide attacks growing in numbers.
A survey by Decima Research last weekend suggested an even split among respondents when asked if Canadian troops should be in Afghanistan.
Neither Harper nor Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe took part in the debate. A spokesman for Harper said the prime minister made his support for the mission clear while visiting Afghanistan last month. (source)