September 16th, 2014

Statement on Canadian military deployment to Iraq

The Leader of the Official Opposition Tom Mulcair made the following statement today:

"Tonight's emergency debate on Canada's military involvement in Iraq must be followed by a parliamentary vote on a clear motion that outlines the details of Canada’s commitment.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) poses a serious humanitarian and security threat. Responding to such a threat requires a full assessment of the facts on the ground and a clear understanding of the role that Canada should play. Yet, Stephen Harper and his government have not even answered such basic questions as the number of Canadian troops deployed to Iraq and their role.

Stephen Harper's refusal to seek a clear mandate from Parliament for the deployment of Canadian troops in Iraq is a betrayal of his earlier promises to Canadians.

In 2006, the Conservative party platform promised that “a Conservative government will […] make Parliament responsible for exercising oversight over the conduct of Canadian foreign policy and the commitment of Canadian Forces to foreign operations.”

Again in 2007, his Speech from the Throne reiterated “…our Government has made clear to Canadians and our allies that any future military deployments must also be supported by a majority of parliamentarians.”

These promises must be kept.

After a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Canadians expect their leaders to approach potential military commitments with prudence and transparency. Many recall that in 2003, Mr. Harper in his role as Opposition leader was keen to join the US invasion of Iraq.

It is of particular concern that the government appears incapable of conveying a coherent understanding of the mission's objectives, strategy, costs and timelines. Such vagueness under the Liberals led to almost a decade of mission creep in Afghanistan.

Mr. Harper risks repeating these mistakes as he commits Canada to military involvement in Iraq without presenting a clear mandate for Canadian Forces members or securing the consent of Canada's Parliament.

At tonight's debate, New Democrats will seek answers to these important questions and reiterate our calls for addressing the humanitarian needs caused by this conflict, combating sexual violence, upholding international humanitarian law and seeking to bring war criminals to justice. We will once again demand that the government put a clear mandate for Canada's military deployment to a vote of Canada's Parliament.

Canadians deserve better than a government that cannot - or will not - answer basic questions about our country's military deployment to Iraq."