By Janice Dickson, iPolitics
Conservative MPs are reiterating their call to have a parliamentary debate on the Liberal government’s decision to support the UN peacekeeping mission in war-torn Mali.
“We have to have an opportunity here in the House of Commons for all Parliamentarians to get out to vote — to get out and debate this mission and also an opportunity to vote on it,” Conservative defence critic James Bezan said after question period Wednesday.
Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced Monday that Canada will send Griffon combat and Chinook transport helicopters to the West African nation. Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance reportedly later told journalists the mission would involve up to 250 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members, but also told at least one outlet the number is not fixed.
The federal government has made a year-long commitment to the mission, but some have said the mission is too short.
Bezan said Wednesday that the official opposition has yet to receive any confirmation from the government on whether or not there will be a full debate and a vote on the Mali mission.
“We call upon Minister Sajjan, on Prime Minister Trudeau, that if they’re going to deploy our troops to the deadliest UN mission that we need to have an opportunity to pronounce ourselves through a vote after we get all the information through the debate,” said Bezan.
The Manitoba MP added that the government has been calling it a peacekeeping mission, but you can’t have peacekeeping and combat in the same context.
“If it’s a UN mission, the UN doesn’t do combat. We are saying that this will end up being a combat mission. The French are there not under UN command. They’re there as a combat mission. We need more clarification on what Canadians will be doing in this peacekeeping mission,” said Bezan.