SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Just days after the government announced that Canadian military strategists are heading to Iraq to help out in the fight against Islamic militants, MPs will get the opportunity to question Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson about the deployment during a special meeting of the House foreign affairs committee on Tuesday.
The committee will also hear from Chief of Defence Staff Tom Lawson, as well as Andrew Bennett, Canada’s religious freedom ambassador, according to a notice posted to the parliamentary website on Friday evening.
Baird spent several days in Iraq last week, during which he visited Kurdish front lines, where he announced an additional $15 million in aid earmarked for security, including helmets, body armour and vehicles to support Kurdish and Iraqi forces battling fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS or ISL.
In a show of cross-partisan unity, Baird took the rare step of inviting both opposition foreign affairs critics, NDP MP Paul Dewar and Liberal MP Marc Garneau, to accompany him on the trip.
On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper revealed that “several dozen” Canadian Armed Forces members would soon be sent to Iraq, where they’ll join U.S. officials in advising the Iraqi government on securing the northern part of the country.
They will also “provide strategic and tactical advice to Iraqi forces before they commence tactical operations against ISIL,” according to a statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Canada will be present in an advisory and assistance role.”
The advisers will come largely from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, the government said.
Liberals want details on ‘full nature’ of mission
A spokesman for Baird declined to provide any additional details on the briefing.
“It’s all Iraq, and there will be a long Q&A session after remarks,” Adam Hodge told CBC News.
The Liberals, who have just one seat at the committee table, will be looking for specific details on the parameters of the mission, according to party spokeswoman Kate Purchase.
“The government must outline the spectrum of operations Canadian military personnel will be engaged in, the steps taken to ensure their safety, what factors would be considered in extending the Canadian presence beyond the stated 30-day timeframe and how this mission will help contribute to Canada’s national security interests,” she told CBC News.
“It is essential that the government disclose to Parliament the full nature of the mission it is proposing.”
Last week, Liberal public security critic Wayne Easter served notice that he intends to push for a full parliamentary inquiry into ISIS recruitsin Canada when the House returns next week.
The meeting is scheduled to run for two hours, and will be televised.