12/09/2011 07:21 EST | Updated 02/08/2012 05:12 EST

Canada Libya Mission Party Rings Up $850,000 In Parliament Hill Celebration

OTTAWA - It cost Canadian taxpayers $850,000 for a Parliament Hill celebration on the return of forces who served as part of the Libya campaign.

Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, confirmed the figure late Friday.

The special recognition ceremony, complete with an air force fly past of fighter jets and a C-17 transport, was to honour troops from the NATO-led Operation Unified Protector.

It took place on Nov. 24 and included honours for the Canadian commander of the NATO mission, Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard.

Canada's participation in the military mission, which aided in the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi's regime, officially ended on Oct. 28 after over six months of operations.

It included 1,500 sorties by combat and support aircraft.

Critics were quick to point out that the government had not lavished a similar ceremony on troops returning from the combat mission in Afghanistan, but MacKay pointed out that Canada's participation in the training mission until 2014 meant that those celebrations would be delayed.

Yet, it was billed as a celebration for Canadian Forces members and their families.

"This recognition ceremony was a valuable opportunity to connect Canadians to our military heroes and nationally showcase the men and women who helped ensure that a brutal regime could no longer threaten and inflict violence against its own citizens," said Paxton.