POLITICS

History shows Canada's varied approach to sending military into conflict

10/02/2014 02:55 EDT | Updated 12/02/2014 05:59 EST
OTTAWA - The House of Commons is poised to debate a motion on further Canadian military involvement in Iraq.

There's no legal obligation to secure the support of the House before a combat mission, and as a result, there are no formal guidelines on what a motion ought to say.

Here's a look at how other recent military missions were — or were not — dealt with by Parliament.

Mali: In January 2013, Canada agreed to a request from France to help with military logistics involved in global efforts to stabilize the country following a coup. The formal announcement came from Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a news conference. Thought the mission never went to a vote, there was a take-note debate in the House of Commons and Harper briefed opposition leaders prior to its extension. Here is the official statement:

http://bit.ly/1vyns5H

Libya: Canadian soldiers first joined the international military mission against Moammar Gadhafi in February 2011, but it became a combat mission in March. It was supported by a vote in the House of Commons on a motion which set a three-month-deadline, at which time the House would debate an extension. Another vote took place in June and then a final one in September, though Harper had declared his intention to extend the missions prior to the votes.

A record of the March debate is here: http://bit.ly/1pu6rpb

June: http://bit.ly/1rAFHsN

September: http://bit.ly/1pu6Doz

Afghanistan: The contribution of Canada to the international mission in Afghanistan first came before the Commons in 2001, in the form of an announcement by then-Liberal Defence Minister Art Eggleton. There will several take-note debates on the mission, but it wasn't until 2006 under the Conservatives that the Commons actually voted on it, in the form of a vote on whether to extend the mission. Another one took place in 2008. In 2010, the prime minister announced Canadians would stay in a non-combat role until 2014 and there was no vote on that decision.

A timeline of early parliamentary efforts on Afghanistan can be found here: http://bit.ly/1rO1AE0

Quote:

"My position is if you're going to put troops into combat, into a war situation, I do think for the sake of legitimacy, I do think the government does require the support of Parliament. But when we're talking simply about technical or training missions, I think that is something the executive can do on its own." — Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2010 on the subject of whether the Commons would be asked again to vote on extending the mission in Afghanistan, if the mission was just focused on training Afghan soldiers.

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"Our Government has made clear to Canadians and our allies that any future military deployments must also be supported by a majority of parliamentarians." — Conservative government throne speech in 2007.