Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Harper Signals Iraq Combat Mission Proposal Coming to the Commons

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Harper Signals Iraq Combat Mission Proposal Coming to the Commons

Article excerpt

Iraq combat mission proposal coming: Harper

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OTTAWA - No decision has been made, he said, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper left little doubt Tuesday that MPs will shortly be called upon to approve a government proposal to go to war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

A request from the U.S. for Canada to step up its involvement in the military campaign against the extremist group, which has swallowed a vast swath of territory in the war-racked Middle East, was the subject of a flurry of closed-door presentations and a lengthy exchange in the House of Commons.

The contribution -- at this stage -- would involve a contingent of CF-18 fighters and surveillance aircraft. That would be in addition to the 69 special forces troops committed to the mission in northern Iraq, whose participation is subject to review and renewal by the end of the week.

"If there is a combat mission of any kind, including an air combat mission, there will be a debate and vote in this House," Harper said in answer to a series of questions from NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

Harper said a final decision would come within days, but he left little doubt where the government was headed, telling Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau that "whenever we enter a mission that involves combat, including aerial combat," MPs will be consulted.

And finally, he said: "We will come to the House of Commons with a proposal on that matter and I look forward to a debate and vote on that."

For much of question period, the prime minister was peppered with questions as both Opposition parties demanded to know the case for war, how long it would last and what kind of restrictions would be placed on forces involved.

Harper set the stage for the forthcoming debate with a broad description of ISIL atrocities committed throughout Syria and northern Iraq against minority religious groups -- and one pointed, ominous warning for Canadians.

"We have at the present time the establishment of a quasi-state, an Islamic caliphate, stretching from Aleppo almost to Baghdad, up until very recently operating entirely in the open, planning attacks, not just genocide against large populations in the region but planning attacks against this country," he said. …

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