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Sajjan to face calls for resignation in wake of Afghanistan battle claim

Tuesday - 02/05/2017 01:42
Canada's defence minister has apologized for exaggerating role in Operation Medusa against Taliban

Harjit Sajjan is expected to face calls to resign as Defence Minister in the House of Commons today in the wake of his claim he was the "architect" of a major assault on the Taliban in 2006.

MPs are back in Ottawa after a two-week break, and the controversy over Sajjan overstating his role in Operation Medusa during an April 18 address in New Delhi is likely to dominate the daily question period.

The Conservatives are set to call for him to step aside or be removed from his post, alleging a pattern of misleading the public.

Sajjan said he was sorry in a message posted to his Facebook page Saturday, but opposition parties say that's not enough. He is scheduled to make a statement in the foyer of the House of Commons at 2:05 p.m. ET, according to a notice from his office, and will carry it live.

The Conservatives say this is not an isolated incident, but rather part of a pattern of questionable comments from the minister.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan also refuted claims by Sajjan that the Iraqis were accepting of Canada's decision to withdraw its CF-18 jet fighters from combat against the Islamic State. He said the minister also made misleading statements about the air force's capability gap and who was responsible for cutting danger pay for soldiers in Kuwait.

The NDP is also prepared to raise questions about the minister's credibility.

Former soldiers with direct knowledge of Sajjan's role in Afghanistan told CBC News that he served as a liaison officer with local Afghan leadership, and provided critical intelligence and insight that helped shape the battle, but that he did not plan the September 2006 operation west of Kandahar City.

Sajjan served on one tour to Bosnia and three deployments to Afghanistan as a reservist.

On the weekend, Sajjan said he made a "mistake" in how he described his role, retracted the statement and apologized.

"I am truly sorry," he said in his Facebook post. "While I am proud of the role I played during my deployments to Afghanistan, my comments were in no way intended to diminish the roles of my former superiors and fellow soldiers. To them I offer my sincere apologies."

With files from David Cochrane

Source: CBC News:

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