World Bulletin/News Desk
Canada's main opposition parties signaled on Thursday that they might oppose government plans to send fighter jets to the Middle East, putting more pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he struggles in the polls ahead of an election next year.
Harper is expected to announce on Friday that Ottawa wants to send at least six CF-18 fighter jets to participate in a U.S.-led campaign against ISIL militants who have taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria.
The opposition Liberals and New Democrats accuse Harper of providing few details about the planned mission, and say they fear he could mire Canada in a long and messy war.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who polls show would win an election held now, said Harper had made no effort to build a non-partisan case for what he called the prime minister's military adventure. The next election is due in October 2015.
"Mr. Harper is intent on taking Canada to war in Iraq. He needs to justify that. He has not made the case for it. He hasn't even tried," Trudeau said in a speech to the Canada 2020 think-tank in Ottawa.
Canada could contribute in non-military ways, such as accepting refugees from the region.
"Why aren't we talking more about the kind of humanitarian aid that Canada can and must be engaged in rather than trying to whip out our CF-18s and show them how big they are?" he said.
A Harper spokesman said Trudeau's remarks were disrespectful of the armed forces "and made light of a serious issue."
Harper says legislators will discuss and then vote on the proposed deployment, which is bound to be approved since the ruling Conservatives have a majority in the House of Commons.
The Liberals supported a move by the government last month to send around 70 military advisors to Iraq for 30 days. That mission is due to expire this weekend and Ottawa has so far not said whether it will be extended.
Thomas Mulcair, leader of the official opposition New Democrats, said Harper clearly wanted to send the jets.
"This is not a United Nations mission, it's not a NATO mission, and Canadians should have full information before we plunge headlong into another war," he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Canada's appetite for intervening in overseas conflicts fell sharply after 10 years of military involvement in Afghanistan up to 2011, during which 158 soldiers were killed.
Both Mulcair and Trudeau complain the government has failed to brief them on the planned mission.
Officials did brief opposition leaders before Canadian aircraft attacked targets in Libya in 2011 as part of a campaign to enforce a United Nations no-fly zone.Last Mod: 03 Ekim 2014, 00:27