Stephen Harper to reveal ISIS combat mission plan today

In a motion to the House of Commons, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will outline Canada's plan for a combat mission against Islamic jihadists in the Mideast, the Prime Minister's Office confirmed in a statement last evening, with a debate and vote expected to follow Monday.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to argue for sending CF-18 jets, along with CC-150 refuelling planes, to join the U.S.-led combat mission. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will tell Canadians today how Canada will further contribute to a combat mission against Islamic jihadists in the Middle East, the Prime Minister's Office confirmed in a statement last evening.

A motion will be tabled in the House, a day before the current 30-day mission ends, with a debate and vote expected to follow Monday.

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper will rise in the House of Commons and deliver a minister’s statement outlining Canada’s additional support for counter-terrorism efforts against ISIL," Harper spokesman Jason MacDonald said in a written statement, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by one of its several acronyms.

MacDonald said the opposition parties were informed Thursday evening of Harper's plan to table the motion Friday.

Under House rules, each recognized opposition party can give a brief reply.

Although there are no strict time limits, both the prime minister's statement and the opposition replies are expected to be between eight and 10 minutes long.

The prime minister will speak shortly after question period —which he is not expected to attend —wraps up at noon.

Both the New Democrats and the Liberals have reportedly been told that they will receive copies of the prime minister's statement in advance, although no such offer has been made to Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who will also get the chance to respond.

Government House leader Peter Van Loan will likely need to secure the unanimous consent of the House to proceed to a vote on Monday evening.

As CBC News reported Wednesday, Harper will make the case for sending CF-18s, along with CC-150 refuelling jets, to join the U.S.-led combat mission.​

"The prime minister’s statement will clearly outline how Canada will continue to contribute, along with dozens of other countries, to the fight against these terrorists. 

"Specifically, his statement will outline Canada’s military contribution to the counter-terrorism operation, as well as our ongoing humanitarian support," MacDonald said.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair was critical of Harper for not outlining his plan sooner, while Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said the prime minister's unwillingness to offer Canadians details of the combat mission was "troubling."

Harper said in the Commons this week that the ISIS Islamic militants represent a direct threat not only to both the Middle East and Canada.

An audio recording from ISIS last month urged Muslims to kill "disbelievers" in countries, including Canada, supporting the U.S.-led combat mission.

While Harper has authorized the deployment of 69 special forces soldiers for a 30-day mission to Iraq that ends Saturday, he revealed Wednesday that only 26 Canadian soldiers are currently on the ground.


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