No second thoughts about Libya mission: MacKay 0
Canada's Defence Minister Peter MacKay. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)
OTTAWA -- As Canadian officials condemn the terrorists who murdered four Americans in Libya, federal ministers say they have no regrets about helping topple dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and opening the door for radical Islamists to fill the void.
Despite Tuesday's attack, Defence Minister Peter MacKay says "on balance" there is progress in Libya.
"I think you have to look at the bigger picture here," MacKay said. "We no longer have a dictator, a regime in place, that was regularly perpetrating deliberate violence against an entire population."
The Royal Canadian Air Force played a key role in NATO's Libya mission in 2011.
The country has been in turmoil since Gadhafi's demise, and the new Libyan government has been unable to control extremists.
On Tuesday, gunmen were able to storm the American consulate in Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, and three others.
That left Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird denouncing what he called senseless violence.
"It's an attack on diplomacy," Baird said during a brief teleconference from India. "We send out sympathies to the family and friends of the four American diplomats killed."
The NDP and Liberals also condemned the attack, while former Canadian ambassador to Libya Sandra McCardell issued a statement recognizing Stevens' work encouraging Libyan rebels.
"From his experience in the region, he had an appreciation for the complexities of the Middle East, which he had drawn upon in his work following the Arab Spring," she said.
Even so, some fear the Arab Spring is turning into an Islamist Winter.
Dr. Walid Phares, a Middle East expert who advises U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said Washington backed the wrong people after Gadhafi's ouster.
"Instead of allying themselves with civil society "¦ they partnered with the Muslim Brotherhood," Phares told Sun News Network. "That encourages the more extremist elements, such as the Salafists, and of course now Al-Qaida, to start attacks, not just against the United States, but even against the secular elements in this society."
The anti-American violence comes almost a year after Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed hope for "peace and reconciliation" in Libya with Gadhafi gone.
-- with files from Kris Sims