Rob Nicholson says cost of Iraq mission to be revealed later

It's too soon to put numbers to the cost of Canada's mission ‎against ISIS in Iraq, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson told MPs on the Commons defence committee.

Minister appeared before MPs to discuss supplementary budget estimates

Defence minister on Iraq mission costs RAW


6 years ago
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson tells MPs on the defence committee that costs for Canada's mission in Iraq will be "made known when they are known" at the end of the mission. 6:26

It's too soon to put numbers to the cost of Canada's mission ‎against ISIS in Iraq, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson told MPs on the Commons defence committee today.

"[The costs] will be reported, you know, in the normal way. Usually within 90 days of the completion of the mission the costs are tabled," Nicholson said.

Nicholson also suggested it would be months before the costs are released to the public. "This is a six-month mission, and when the costs are known, we will table them in the usual way."

Nicholson's parliamentary secretary, James Bezan, seemed to suggest Monday on CBC News Network's Power & Politics that Nicholson would provide figures during his appearance at the committee.

But Bezan said Tuesday his remarks were misinterpreted.

"That was a mischaracterization of my words," he told the committee. "If you actually review a transcript from CBC, my comments were that there would be questions to the minister on the cost of operations, not that we would release anything."

Cost estimates

Canada is contributing six CF-18s, two Aurora surveillance aircraft and a refuelling plane to the U.S. led-mission against militants of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Canada's jets arrived at a base in Kuwait Oct. 30 to take up the mission.
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson told the Commons defence committee on Tuesday the Iraq mission costs won't be made known for several months. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Speaking on CBC Radio One's The House last Saturday, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson said the military had given a cost estimate for the mission to the government.

"I'll leave it to our elected officials to determine when that will be shared," Lawson told host Evan Solomon.

Asked about the military's costs estimate by NDP MP Robert Chisholm on Tuesday, Nicholson repeated that the government would make the mission "costs known when they are known." He added, "There is a huge human cost if we don't participate. The daily atrocities we are made aware of by ISIL, the atrocities against men, women and children — I hesitate to use the word unprecedented, but as bad as anything we have seen."

Nicholson was appearing at the defence committee to discuss his department's supplementary budget estimates. Bezan said Monday those estimates reflect an increase in department spending of $900 million. 

Bezan said incremental costs involved with the mission would be reported to the public through normal parliamentary processes.

The opposition has been clamouring for incremental cost estimates since debate began on the mission.

"I hope we can get a nice simple figure per day, like the Americans have provided," Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau said on the Monday Power & Politics panel.

Watch what Bezan told Evan Solomon on Monday:

Combating ISIS


6 years ago
Will Canada expand the war against ISIS into Syria? 13:36


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?