Harper says decision on Iraq mission coming in 'days'
Published Tuesday, September 30, 2014 10:00AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 30, 2014 7:49PM EDT
The federal government will decide whether to send Canadian troops on a combat mission in Iraq "in the next few days," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday, as a deadline to renew the current advisory mission looms.
The opposition grilled Harper on whether Canadian soldiers will be sent into combat in Iraq during question period in the House of Commons Tuesday.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair asked Harper when he will table his plans in the House "for study, a full debate and a vote?"
"If we are planning any kind of a combat mission, including an aerial combat mission, there will be a debate and a vote in this House," Harper replied, adding that a debate will only occur when a decision is made.
Harper said the government expects to "make a final decision on that in the next few days."
Canada currently has 69 special operations forces in northern Iraq, advising Iraqi forces as they take on ISIS militants. Canada has also flown humanitarian supply airlifts into Iraq.
The 30-day advisory mission began on Sept. 5, and so a deadline to renew looms this weekend.
The opposition has hammered the government over potential "mission creep," particularly since Harper revealed last week that the United States government had made a request for further Canadian military assistance. Harper made the comments during an interview with the Wall Street Journal in New York.
On Tuesday, Harper said his government is “strongly supportive of the actions that have been taken at the initiative of (U.S. President Barack) Obama and our allies to deal with the threat presented by (ISIS), not just in the region but the broader threat that this terrorist caliphate represents to all of us, including the security of this country.”
When asked what military support Canada has offered to the United States, Harper answered by saying his government believes that the U.S. and its allies have taken "necessary" and "noble" actions.
"And when we think something is necessary and noble, we don't sit back and say other people should do it," Harper said. "The Canadian way is you do your part."
Harper was also asked about a timeline for a combat mission. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that Canada and other countries could be facing a lengthy mission because there are "no quick fixes" when fighting terrorism.
On Tuesday, Harper would only say that the government will look "carefully at steps that we believe would not leave us there in a quagmire for years."