Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Trudeau Defends Iraq Mission Secrecy, Accuses Tories of Endangering Lives

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Trudeau Defends Iraq Mission Secrecy, Accuses Tories of Endangering Lives

Article excerpt

Trudeau defends Iraq mission secrecy

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OTTAWA - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the previous Conservative government of having endangered Canadian troops as he defended a recent clampdown on information about Canada's mission in Iraq.

The comments came during a sharp exchange in the House of Commons on Tuesday in which interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose alleged the Liberals were keeping Canadians in the dark for "political reasons."

She alleged the Liberal government was trying to hide the fact that Canadian soldiers are actively fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant despite Trudeau's promise during last year's election campaign to end the combat mission in Iraq.

Military officers revealed during a rare briefing this month that Canadian special forces troops have been spending more time on the front lines and engaging in more firefights with ISIL forces.

But the military and government have refused to provide further details, including the number of incidents, what Canadian soldiers are doing on the front lines, and even how many troops are in Iraq.

Ambrose noted the Conservatives held more briefings and provided more details about the mission when they were in power.

"But the prime minister has changed that policy for political reasons," she said. "He promised to end a combat mission that he's actually expanding. Will the prime minister be transparent and resume these briefings so Canadians can know exactly what our men in uniform are facing?"

Trudeau acknowledged that his government, which was elected on a promise of greater transparency, was being more restrictive in terms of information about the campaign against ISIL.

But he defended it as necessary to protect Canadian soldiers.

"We have changed somewhat the approach that the previous government had," Trudeau said. "We will not put our men and women in the Canadian Forces in harm's way for communications purposes. …

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