03/20/2015 10:21 EDT | Updated 05/20/2015 05:59 EDT

ISIS mission: Combat operation clock 417 air sorties, 53 strikes

As the government prepares to put forward its proposal to "extend and expand" Canada's ongoing military mission in Iraq, Canadian Forces spokesman Capt. Paul Forget says the military's Iraq operation has conducted 417 air sorties and 53 strikes in support of the international coalition waging war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government intends to "move forward with a request for Parliament for extension and expansion of the mission."

He wouldn't say whether that could include the possibility of going into Syria as well.

On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson spoke to ambassadors from coalition countries on Canada's current efforts in Iraq.

The current mission is set to expire on April 7.

Vote not legally required

Although the prime minister has made it a hallmark of his government to give MPs the opportunity to debate and vote on proposed military missions, parliamentary consent is not actually required to deploy Canadian troops. That authority rests exclusively with the executive, which excises it on behalf of the Crown. 

In an essay published last fall, University of Ottawa professor and defence expert Philippe Lagassé noted that such votes can be seen as a "courtesy" extended to MPs by the executive.

"The votes allow MPs to express themselves on a matter of national importance," he pointed out. 

"In addition, they can be seen as a means of assuring the military that their mission has the support of the elected house of Parliament, and the votes add an aura of democratic legitimacy to controversial policy decisions."

But it can also provide political cover for the governing party, he adds.

"By laundering these decisions through the House, the government gives the impression that the Commons shares responsibility for the deployment."