POLITICS

Iraq Mission Consultation 'Phoney,' Tom Mulcair Says

10/02/2014 10:13 EDT | Updated 12/02/2014 05:59 EST

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already decided to plunge Canada into a combat mission, rendering any parliamentary consultation "phoney," NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said today.

Harper briefed the Conservative caucus Wednesday on the options for Canada to increase its contribution in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS or ISIL. He says he'll bring any plan for a combat mission to the House of Commons for a debate and vote.

Canada has offered 69 military advisers, although the Conservatives admitted Wednesday that only 29 are on the ground in Iraq. Canada has also been flying military aid provided by other countries and as of last week had completed 25 flights carrying more than 680,000 kilograms of military equipment to northern Iraq.

"There's no question that Mr. Harper's mind's already been made up so any consultation at this stage of the game, frankly, will be phoney," Mulcair told CBC News.

"This is not a UN mission, it's not a NATO mission, and Canadians should have full information before we plunge head long into another war."

Mulcair also criticized Harper for planning to announce on Friday what Canada will do to help fight ISIS. That's a day on which the House sits for only a few hours, and when many MPs are either back in their ridings or en route.

Trudeau calls Harper's approach 'troubling'

"On issues of national importance, and there is nothing more important about the life of our country than asking whether we're going to tell young Canadians to go into war," Mulcair said.

"[But] Mr. Harper's playing a political game. He's not providing information to Canadians, he's not providing information to Parliament... There's been no discussion, no debate. Now they say there's going to be a vote, but it's going to be a fait accompli."

Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who spoke at a conference in Ottawa on Thursday, are sounding similar notes in their criticism of Harper. On Wednesday, both said Harper hasn't properly made his case for a combat mission.

Like Mulcair, Trudeau, in his speech Thursday, attacked Harper's handling of the debate.

"How did Mr. Harper let Canadians know that he was thinking about their fellow citizens into war? He announced it casually in New York — during an interview with the Wall Street Journal at Goldman Sachs," Trudeau said.

The Liberal leader called Harper's approach "troubling," and said the government hasn't briefed the opposition leaders and hasn't answered specific questions in the House about the possible mission.

"Canada has asked a lot of our men and women in uniform over the last decade. And too often they have returned home only to be let down. If we dare ask more of them now, there ought to be a good reason," Trudeau said.

"Canadians expect the highest standard of openness and honesty from a leader who wants to send our forces to war. Prime Minister Harper has so far failed to meet that standard."

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