POLITICS

Ambrose: Trudeau Disrespected Parliamentarians By Ending ISIS Airstrikes As MPs Debate

02/18/2016 04:17 EST | Updated 02/18/2016 04:59 EST

The interim Conservative leader has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of disrespecting Parliament by ending airstrikes against the so-called Islamic State before MPs could vote on the matter.

But the motion being debated this week on the Liberals' anti-ISIS strategy — which notably calls for CF-18 fighter jets to return home — merely asks for the "support" of members. There is no constitutional requirement for a prime minister and the cabinet to obtain the approval of the House of Commons on military matters.

Still, the charge from Rona Ambrose in question period Thursday added a new element to the debate, riffing off Trudeau's promise to run an open and transparent government.

In the House a day earlier, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced that members of the Royal Canadian Air Force conducted their final mission on Monday. The Globe and Mail later reported that the last airstrikes took place on Sunday, against an ISIS fighting position in Iraq.

'... how could the prime minister show so much disrespect for parliamentarians?'

Ambrose told the House that Canadians "mistakenly" believed that Trudeau wanted to do things differently.

"But last night, on the first night of our debate on pulling out the CF-18s, we find out that the fighter jets had already actually flown their last mission," she said.

"He didn't even wait for the debate, or wait for Parliament to vote. So, my question is simple, how could the prime minister show so much disrespect for parliamentarians?"

rona ambrose justin trudeau

Rona Ambrose and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak during question period Thursday. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Trudeau said he was pleased to have "participated in this debate that is ongoing." He lauded what he called Canada's "strong role" in the coalition taking the fight to ISIS.

Then, in a statement that could spark questions about why a debate is being held in the first place, he reminded the Tory leader that he won a mandate to make these kinds of calls.

"As you know, Canadians got an opportunity to weigh in in the last election on what they wanted for Canada to engage in ISIL," he said. "They rejected the Conservatives' military emphasis, they rejected the NDP's stepping back. They accepted that we have the best plan for a whole-of-government approach that steps up our involvement in ways that Canada can help best."

Conservatives and New Democrats have already announced they will not support the motion. Tories say the mission does not go far enough while NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has dubbed it an "enhanced combat mission" because of the increased number of troops on the ground.

'Hatred of diversity'

In her speech on the motion Wednesday, Ambrose said the Liberal plan to withdraw jets and dramatically increase training conflicted with Trudeau's commitment to diversity.

"There is no hatred of diversity in the world deeper than the hatred at the dark heart of ISIS," she said.

Ambrose noted that the "death cult" terrorizes through the sexual enslavement of women and children, and the murder of religious minorities.

"Those who run afoul of its oppressive rules or simply do not share its perverse world view are stoned, beheaded, burned alive, or crucified," she said. "The punishment for being gay is being hurled off the roof of a building."

Liberal government's plan a ‘betrayal'

While much of her speech was a rehash of remarks she has made since winning the interim party leadership last November, Ambrose introduced a seemingly new word to the debate: betrayal.

She said that withdrawing from the air combat role betrayed the people of Syria and Iraq.

"It's a betrayal of our closest friends and allies. It's a betrayal of generations of proud Canadian military history," she said. "And it's a betrayal of the government's highest purpose – ensuring the security of Canada and the safety of Canadians.

"While ISIS thrives, no one is entirely safe from its cruelty."

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