Stephen Harper talking to opposition about next steps in Mali mission

The Canadian Press

CAMBRIDGE, Ont. - Stephen Harper says he's looking for a broad national consensus on what else Canada should be doing about the unfolding crisis in Mali.

The prime minister says the government is looking at "when and how" to extend its support of France, which has launched an offensive to dislodge an al-Qaida off-shoot from Mali's north.

Harper says he's reached out to colleagues and opposition parties to build consensus, but says "direct" military involvement in the form of troops is not in the cards.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has already said he wants to see the issue of the country's military contribution — direct or otherwise — debated by Parliament.

Harper is operating under a tight timeline.

Canada's current commitment of a single C-17 transport plane, which has been ferrying French war supplies and vehicles to Mali, is set to expire Thursday.