The Current

Canada's 'end game' in Iraq too murky, say military analysts

With the original deadline of Canada's mission in Iraq looming, the expectation is the Prime Minister will extend and even expand the mission, and possibly agree to action in or over Syria. But critics are asking what kind of new alliances Canada could be making.
A CF-18 Hornet awaits its next mission against ISIS at the Canadian Forces base. Prime Minister Harper is announcing an extension and expansion of Canada's mission in Iraq, this week. Critics worry we may be repeating the mistakes of Libya and Afghanistan. (Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

"Our government is seeking to extend the Canadian Armed Forces six month mission against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Soon, next week, the Prime Minister will present our government's intentions in the House of Commons. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, let me tell you, that I am tremendously proud of this decision ... and the moral clarity that guides it." - Rob Nicholson, Foreign Affairs minister, speaking last Thursday in Ottawa.

In the days ahead, the Prime Minister will ask Parliament to extend Canada`s military mission against ISIS in Iraq, and possibly opening the door to Canadian forces entering Syria ... or its airspace.

Now, you heard the term the foreign affairs minister used to describe the mission — "moral clarity." Critics might counter that ever since the fight against ISIS began last year, clarity has been in short supply, either moral or strategic.

'For us, from the beginning, this has been a mistake for Canada to be involved there. This is not our war.- Tom Mulcair, leader of the opposition on Canada's mission in Iraq

But it is a war that seems set to expand, and so today we're asking just what the plan for this extended mission might be, and what a victory in this fight might look like.

For a sense of what to expect this week, we were joined by CBC reporter James Cudmore in Ottawa. 

One Canadian soldier has already died in this mission against ISIS, and Canadians have fired on and killed militants from the other side. There's a lot at stake in extending the fight and arguments to be heard on both sides.

We did request an interview with Defense Minister Jason Kenney but he declined. We also asked to speak with his Parliamentary Secretary James Bezan, but didn't get a response.

To discuss the nuts and bolts of the mission and what, in the end, can be accomplished, we were joined by two guests:

George Petrolekas is a retired colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces who's served in Bosnia and Afghanistan. He's now on the board of the Conference of Defense Associations Institute, which promotes debate on security and defense issues. He was in Montreal today.

Scott Taylor is a former soldier in the forces. He's currently the editor and publisher of Esprit de Corps magazine, which reports on military matters. He was in Ottawa.

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This segment was produced by Ottawa Network Producer, Tom Jokinen. 


♦ MPs owe Canadians a better debate before Iraq mission is extended - George Petrolekas, The Globe & Mail

♦ Canadians must know end game before mission in Iraq is extended - Scott Taylor, The Chronicle Herald