Harper Lied About U.S. Requesting Canada’s Military Help In Iraq
In New York on Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Wall Street Journal that his government had received a formal written request from the U.S. for more support in the ongoing war against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq.
He lied. It was Harper who first contacted the Americans to offer further Canadian military aid in Iraq – and not the other way around. The letter from the Americans was in response to Canada’s offer.
In an exclusive story, published Thursday, Global News quoted U.S. officials denying that the Americans had ever requested Canada’s help. Instead, “the Canadians” dispatched a “letter” to the Americans “describing areas where their contributions would be helpful.”
“The United States government says it was Canada that asked what more it could do to help in Iraq – an offer that led to the letter Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he recently received from the U.S. requesting further military help in the fight against ISIS,” reported Global News. “A spokeswoman for the U.S. Secretary of Defense told Global News the Canadians reached out to ask how to help in “countering” Islamist rebels.”
The Toronto Star reports that Washington received “an offer of greater help from the prime minister.”
During the Wall Street Journal interview, Harper said the U.S. “just recently, in the last couple days, has asked for some additional contribution and we’ll — we’re weighing our response to that.” But Harper would not specify the kind of support the Americans had requested.
Harper is playing us all for fools.
Harper’s version of reality made news here in Canada. “U.S. asks for military help,” reported The Chronicle Herald. From the CBC News: “Stephen Harper considers U.S. request for further military help in ISIS fight.” The Globe and Mail reported: “U.S. asked Canada for more help in the Middle East, Harper says.”
Also on Wednesday, the CBC News reported that “Harper revealed, during the question and answer session, the U.S. had formally asked Canada in a letter received this week for further involvement in the fight against Islamic State militants in the Middle East.”
It’s clear that the Harper government has been shopping around for overseas military missions while doing everything possible to withhold the finer details from Canadians.
In an earlier Question Period exchange, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair asked for clarity on the number of Canadian soldiers already in Iraq. At first, Harper chose to be evasive, before confirming that Canada currently has 69 “special advisers” in Iraq on a 30-day non-combat mission. He said Royal Canadian Air Force had been deployed to Iraq “to deliver humanitarian and military assistance to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State, ISIL, and there are several dozen Canadian army personnel also deployed to Iraq in an advise-and-assist capacity.”
Then, during Question Period on Wednesday, Mulcair asked the Conservatives to “confirm that the 30-day Canadian commitment in Iraq will indeed end on October 4?” Instead of giving a straight answer, Conservative MP Paul Calandra, Harper’s Parliamentary Secretary, responded by questioning the NDP’s loyalty to Israel.
In a statement, the Liberals accused Harper of “playing coy political strategy games and fudging the truth.”
Here’s part of the statement:
Prime Minister Harper has a duty to be upfront and a responsibility to be truthful. This should be especially the case when Canadian Forces personnel are being sent into harm’s way. For them and their families this is a matter of life and death.
Tonight’s report that Mr. Harper misled Canadians at this very serious time is very troubling.
Mr. Harper must come clean to Canadians about his intentions in Iraq. Canada cannot be blindly drawn into an unexpected mission in the Middle East.
It now appears as though the Prime Minister omitted a key detail about the American request for further Canadian participation in Iraq. It was not the U.S. asking Canada for help. It was the other way around…
The Prime Minister should not be playing coy political strategy games and fudging the truth when the lives of our soldiers are on the line. It is unacceptable.
Any change to Canada’s non-combat mission in Iraq must only be made with rigorous and effective Parliamentary oversight.
We expect the Prime Minister to answer all questions pertaining to this deployment fully and openly in the House of Commons in front of Canadians.
Canadians deserve clarity on our commitment to the ongoing U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.