C B C . C A   N e w s   -   F u l l   S t o r y :

Senate grills witnesses on Afghan mission

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan is under a microscope Monday as the Senate defence committee questions the foreign affairs minister and other key witnesses.

The full day of hearings started in Ottawa at 10 a.m. EDT, when the all-party Senate committee was to hear from RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli and the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Jim Judd.

They were expected to answer questions about whether Canada faces a greater threat to security within its own borders because of what its troops are doing to help rebuild Afghanistan.

That mission includes operations aimed at stamping out the Taliban-fuelled insurgency — operations that have claimed the lives of 16 Canadian soldiers and a diplomat since 2002.

Judd was to be making his first appearance in front of the committee since assuming his duties as head of the spy agency in November 2004.

Later in the day, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay will appear to answer questions about what the country's 2,300-member mission hopes to accomplish in Afghanistan.

Senators have told CBC News that they will question MacKay and International Co-operation Minister Josée Verner about whether the Conservative government has an exit strategy to end the mission when the time comes.

The ministers will also be questioned about what conditions might trigger an extension of the mission beyond its current commitment to stay until early 2009.

Lt.-Gen. J.C.M. Gauthier, the head of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command, was also scheduled to appear before the committee Monday afternoon.

Copyright ©2006 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - All Rights Reserved