By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch
The Liberal government has extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq for almost another two years.
The mission will be extended until March 31, 2019, the government announced Thursday.
“Canada is providing $371.4 million over two years to support the cost of this renewed contribution to the Global Coalition against Daesh,” the government noted in a news release. Daesh is another name for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The Canadian military will be able to deploy capabilities as needs arise, the government noted. “This extension includes the authority to provide training for new potential partners within the Iraqi security forces and a CC-130J Hercules aircraft for tactical airlift,” it added in the news release.
Canada will also continue to contribute existing capabilities, including:
o Aerial refueling and surveillance capabilities;
o Tactical helicopters;
o Training, advising, and assisting Iraqi security forces;
o Capacity building in Jordan and Lebanon;
o A Role 2 medical facility; and
o Personnel, including intelligence support.
This extension includes the authority to deploy up to 850 military personnel.
Peggy Mason, president of the Rideau Institute in Ottawa, pointed out that the Liberals extended the mission without Parliamentary debate.
“The situation on the ground in Iraq is about to radically change with the impending demise of the territorial phase of the Islamic State enterprise,” Mason said in a statement. “Canadian military trainers may find themselves not only confronting a diffused Islamic state insurgency but a Kurdish independence movement and deep sectarian divisions between the Shia- controlled Iraqi government and the Sunni majority population.”
That type of situation should prompt a full debate in Parliament, she added.
“Instead what we have from the Trudeau government is a press release, after Parliament has recessed, and two days before the July 1st festivities begin, which appears to delegate the responsibility for updating the mission in light of evolving circumstances to the Canadian military, without even the involvement of the government, let alone Parliament,” Mason said.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told journalists on Thursday that the original mission was already debated in the House of Commons.