Opposition MPs continued to criticize the government’s plan to join airstrikes against Islamic State militants during debate in the House of Commons Monday, even as the Conservatives announced additional humanitarian aid for victims of ISIS.
MPs will resume debating a motion on committing Canadian Forces to an air campaign against ISIS on Tuesday, with a vote expected late in the day. Given the Conservative majority, there is no question the motion will pass.
Early on in the House of Commons debate Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said he wants Canada to show a "strong and united front" in the fight against ISIS.
This is not just another conflict,” he said. “The struggle is not against a state or even a foreign dictator. This is a struggle against a group of terrorists that rape and pillage and slaughter anything and anyone that stands in their way.”
Baird also announced that Canada will contribute $5 million in aid to help victims of sexual violence perpetrated by ISIS militants, and another $5 million to investigate and prosecute the attackers. He noted, however, that providing aid is not enough and that the world can't confront ISIS "solely armed with bandages, platitudes and investigation."
Both the NDP and Liberals have said they oppose the mission, citing concerns that once involved in Iraq, it will be difficult for Canada to leave.
CTV News has confirmed a small advance team from the Canadian Forces is heading to an undisclosed country in the Middle East to prepare for the CF-18s that will take part in Canada’s combat mission.
The mission, slated for a period of up to six months, will include as many as six CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft, as well as surveillance and refuelling aircraft, and air crew and personnel, but no ground troops in combat operations.
During Monday’s debate, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said the Conservatives’ stance on “mission creep” shows a lack of “rigorous thought” and “ethics on the international stage.”
He said the airstrikes won’t resolve the long-standing crisis in Iraq.
"When we realized that everything that is unfolding before our eyes is a direct result of the wrong-headed mission in 2003, we know that more bombing is not the answer," he said.
The NDP proposed an amendment to the motion that would overhaul the mission and focus on supplying weapons to local fighters for three months so they can battle ISIS.
Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau said the government has not made the case for a broader combat role in Iraq.
"Deciding in six months to pull out of combat could be very problematic for Canada, depending on the situation and the pressure that will be on us to remain. That is why the Liberal Party of Canada will not support the prime minister's motion to take on a combat role in Iraq," he said.
When Garneau later questioned Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander about the exact length of the combat mission, Alexander replied: “We are going to stay there until ISIL’s capacity to deliver this murderous agenda in Iraq, and potentially beyond, is
CTV | Canadian Press