Canada at war with Libya
Published Saturday, March 19, 2011 5:03PM MDT
Stephen Harper is giving fighter pilots a green light to fire when necessary against Moammar Gadhafi's regime. The sanction comes as a coalition of countries started using force to prevent the North African dictator from killing more of his people.
On Friday, six CF18 jets flew out of Quebec, en route to enforce a No-Fly zone ordered by the United Nations. Officials say 140 Canadian men and women will join French forces who are already patrolling Libyan skies and attacking Gadhafi's resources.
Andy Knight, a University of Alberta professor who specializes in military analysis, says Canada is entering legitimate enemy territory and will likely suffer casualties.
"Some of them could be shot down and then you're going to have individual pilots taken captive or killed, so this really puts the country at war with Libya," he said.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay admits it's a dangerous undertaking.
"The Libyan Air Force is active, we know that," he said from Halifax on Saturday. "So it isn't without risk, let's put it that way."
Other countries in the coalition include Britain, several Arab Nations and the United States. Collectively, the group fired more than 100 missiles on Saturday.
"We are doing this in order to protect the civilian population from the murderous madness of a regime that, by killing its own people, has forfeited all legitimacy," said French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
It's a sentiment echoed by Barack Obama.
"Our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear: the people of Libya must be protected."
Just one day after bowing to international pressures and declaring a cease fire, Ghadafi is now vowing to fight to the death, warning the international community not to meddle with his country's warfare.
Harper says that's not an option.
"The embattled people of Libya have challenged us: do we believe in freedom, or do we just say we believe in freedom?"
Canadian fighter jets will be stationed in Italy and won't be ready to run missions until Tuesday.
With Files from Sean Amato