Canada is expected to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan in 2011 and it appears that the recent announcement by President Obama to increase the number of U.S. troops there will not change the plan.
The Canadian mission was supposed to end this February, but the Canadian parliament last year extended the mission for another two years.
Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian foreign minister, said that date still stands.
“Our position is clear,” he said on Wednesday, according to a CBC report. “We will respect the [parliamentary motion] to the letter.”
Cannon said the additional U.S. forces and resources will help Canada focus on its priorities in Afghanistan.
“Canada welcomes the additional military and civilian resources the United States will deploy to Afghanistan, particularly the south,” Cannon said in a statement.
“This will allow Canada to further concentrate its efforts on six priorities and three signature projects, including Canada’s vital work to increase the capability of the Afghan National Security forces and place responsibility for security back in the hands of Afghans.”
Canada has been in Afghanistan since the beginning of the conflict, contributing thousands of troops and billions in aid.
More than 2,800 Canadian troops are currently in Afghanistan, according to NATO. Most of them are based in the Kandahar province in the southern part of the country, home to some of the worst violence and instability.
At least 133 Canadian troops have been killed in Afghanistan, according to a CNN count.
Afghanistan is also the largest recipient of development aid from Canada. According to the government, Canada will have authorized $1.2 billion in aid to Afghanistan from 2002 through 2011.
"Relative to other involvements of Canada around the world, it's an enormous commitment," Alan Henrikson, a professor of diplomatic history at Tufts University, told CNN earlier this year. "It is proportionally larger than the stake the United States has in Afghanistan."
At home, some recent polls suggest Canadians are growing disillusioned of the Afghan war effort.
More than half either oppose or strongly oppose the mission, according to a Harris/Decima poll released on October 22. In the same poll, 41 percent of those surveyed said Canadian troops should be withdrawn before the 2011 date.
During the past year, the Canadian mission has increasingly focused on rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan. Its priorities – referenced by the foreign minister’s statement – include providing jobs, education, services and building the capabilities of the Afghan national army and police.
And other efforts, what the Canadian government refers to as “signature projects,” include repairing the Dahla Dam, immunizing an estimated seven million children against polio and building or repairing some 50 schools in Kandahar province.
"We are not ever going to ever defeat the insurgency. Afghanistan has probably had - [based on] my reading of history - an insurgency forever of some kind," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in March.
"We have to have an Afghan government that is capable of managing that insurgency and improving its own governance."