Let me walk you through the latest mission creep in Iraq.
Last October 1, Stephen Harper told CBC News that, although some 69 troops was ‘the maximum’, only some 26 were actually in Iraq. Here are some quotes:
Employment Minister Jason Kenney told the House that same day that “69 brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces are providing tactical advice to the Kurdish militias.”
On Sept. 26, James Bezan, parliamentary secretary to Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, told MPs there were “69 members of the Canadian Armed Forces who are providing tactical advice in Iraq,” although in a separate answer he’d said “up to 69” special forces were being deployed.
This was supposed to end after thirty days. Instead, by October 4 we were contributing fighter jets.
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally made his long-awaited pitch Friday for sending Canadian fighter jets – but not ground combat troops – overseas to go to war in the latest global fight against extremists in the Middle East.
Notice, we only have tactical advice on the ground. Or so we were led to believe.
What was put to us as a training discussion of troop placement, leading to a look at the battlefield, turned out to be, by January 2015, our troops using lasers to designate air strikes. And, when coming under mortar fire (surprised? when you’re shining a laser at somebody?), our troops conveniently had snipers ready ‘providing tactical advice’ who shot back.
Earlier this month, Canadian special forces operators came under fire while travelling near the front lines as part of a training operation.
News of the firefight, which was revealed by mission commanders Jonathan Vance and Michael Rouleau during a briefing Monday, sparked a debate over whether Canada had quietly expanded its efforts in Iraq to include a combat role.
The resolution passed by the House of Commons last year explicitly ruled out ground combat operations.
“If you go back to the official record … to what the prime minister said in the House of Commons, it was very clear that the kind of things that were reported as having happened last week were not contemplated by Canadians, by Parliament or by the prime minister, if you take his comments literally.”
Harris said it’s “pretty clear” that this sort of participation on the front lines — including having special forces operators calling in “over half the airstrikes” — was not what was discussed in the House last September.
If you got this far, thanks for your patience. Now for the interesting bit.
It appears that our Prime Minister lied to Parliament and to the Canadian people. It appears that the original thirty-day limit was never held seriously. It appears that sending planes was always in the cards. It appears that direct assistance to ground troops, helping aim incoming missiles in effect, was always in the plan. It appears that shooting back was always in the plan – unless our very best ‘training operation’ personnel all happen to be snipers.
If you’re waiting for the dumb question, here it is.
Why to the Canadian people put up with this crap? Why is Parliamentary debate muzzled? Do we have a PM who is the master of the wedge issue? Will he echo George W Bush and say any criticism is ‘failure to support our troops?’
Are we drifting, actually paddling hard and revving the outboard, toward a police state?
Have a look at the next post for more on my favourite politician.