Prime Minister Stephen Harper left open the possibility he may extend Canada's military involvement in the costly war in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
The United States has asked Canada to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014. They have other fish to fry.
Harper said he is undecided. He will "consider all options."
Harper has been doing that for years. Harper extended Canada's military deployment in 2006, in 2008 and in 2010. Strangely, it was always after elections that he changed his mind and made the extension.
When the New Democratic Party hesitated a few years ago to take on Canada's participation in the war in Afghanistan, Harper laughed and said "the NDP could not even bring itself to fight in World War II."
Harper likes to laugh at others. He is very good at that sort of thing.
But this week it was Harper who couldn't decide whether Canada should stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 at the request of Barack Obama.
Worse, this is the fourth time that Harper has announced that our troops leave Afghanistan on such date, and then change his mind afterwards actually after the election in every case.
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair demanded that just for once, Harper should keep his word.
Harper's ploy today was to pretend that the Americans had not formerly asked him to extend the mandate of Canadian troops. So therefore he doesn't have to make a decision.
"They tell me that we have not had a specific request from the United States. Whether we get one or not, let me be very clear: Canada will make its own determination in this regard," Harper said.
Mulcair replied that it is Canadians who are "perfectly clear. " They want the troops back, said Mulcair.
Harper keeps stressing it is he who will decide. The last thing he wants is to look like a doormat for the U.S.
Canada has already paid a high price in blood and dollars in Afghanistan. The conflict has cost the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers. Another 635 were maimed or injured.
The cost to Canadian taxpayers has exceeded $ 14 billion, according to Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
"They want this mission to end," said Mulcair. "It was supposed to end in 2006. It was supposed to end in 2009. It was supposed to end in 2011. Now it is supposed to end in 2014. When will we finally end?"