09/20/2011 10:03 EDT | Updated 11/20/2011 05:12 EST

Ghadafi forces no big military threat but pose danger to civilians: general

OTTAWA - A senior military planner says the forces of ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi do not pose a significant military threat, but are still a danger to civilians.

Maj.-Gen Jonathan Vance, director of the Strategic Joint Staff, told MPs today that elements of the former regime are still demonstrating "considerable strength" in the south, despite being chased from Tripoli.

His remarks to the Commons defence committee come as opposition parties express skepticism about extending Canada's military deployment of jet fighters and a frigate alongside NATO forces.

Liberal John McKay wanted assurances that Canada wasn't being drawn into supervising a long-term civil war.

Vance says NATO does not face "years and years" of fighting and that the war could be over in a matter of weeks.

The country's ambassador to Tripoli says discussion is underway for Canada to provide targeted stabilization to the new government in Libya.

Sandra McCardell painted an upbeat picture of the situation on the ground following the retreat of pro-Gadhafi forces to strongholds in the south.

Canada has already contributed $10.6 million in humanitarian assistance, almost exclusively through international aid agencies.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in New York at the United Nations where one of his meetings involves the Friends of Libya.

McCardell says an assessment of the country's needs is underway and will be completed by month's end.