Trudeau opens door to supporting Iraq mission extension
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, March 1, 2015 10:27AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, March 1, 2015 12:24PM EST
As the six-month deadline for Canada's mission in Iraq approaches, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is signalling that his party may support a mission extension.
When asked if the Liberal Party would support an extension of Canada's mission in Iraq, Trudeau told CTV's Question Period that Canada definitely has a role to play in the fight against ISIS.
"There's never been any debate within the Liberal Party about whether or not we should be part of this mission," said Trudeau. "The question has always been about the best way to do that.”
While Trudeau did not directly indicate if he would support an extension, he appeared to retreat from his original opposition to the air combat mission in Iraq.
Trudeau voted against the mission last October when the House of Commons passed a motion supporting a six-month commitment to the U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS. The mission is set to expire in April.
In an email to CTVNews Sunday, Trudeau’s spokesperson Kate Purchase said the Liberal leader has not changed his position on the mission.
“He just reiterated the point he's been making all along - that we have a role to play in Iraq but we disagree with the PM on what that is,” she said.
While the government has not yet indicated if it will extend the mission, rumours of an extension have been buzzing around Parliament Hill.
Trudeau called on the Conservative government to be more open in its proposal for an extension. After recent news that Canadian soldiers have come under fire numerous times from Islamic extremists in Iraq, Trudeau accused Harper of misleading Parliament when he assured MPs that soldiers would not be involved in combat.
"What we're looking for when they bring forward their extension is a level of openness and information to Canadians," said Trudeau. "I've always felt that our best support and where we do well is supporting the local troops in going after ISIL themselves, giving them training and support and advice."
The Conservatives have maintained that Canadian forces are not involved in a combat mission, but may have to return fire in their role of advising and assisting Iraqi troops.
As a House of Commons committee prepares to consider the Conservatives' anti-terror bill, C-51, Trudeau called on the government to consider opposition amendments. He said the Liberals will table an amendment allowing parliamentary oversight of Canada’s security agencies.
"Hopefully the government will listen to us and to Canadians' concerns. And if they don't, we will be offering these amendments as part of our election platform and bringing them in if we form government," said Trudeau.