Through a technical briefing, Commanders of the Canadian Armed Forces today informed the public that Canadian troops in Iraq had come under enemy fire on several occasions. In response, James Bezan, Official Opposition Critic for National Defence, and Pierre Paul-Hus, Associate Critic for National Defence, issued the following statement:
“We are extremely proud of and thankful for the work done by the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. We fully support our troops as they train, advise and assist the Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces in their operations to retake the city of Mosul.
“However, the fact that the Liberals withheld information about Canadians coming under enemy fire is shocking and disappointing. This represents a dramatic policy shift. Under the previous Conservative government, the military routinely provided updates regarding when and where Canadian soldiers were forced to fire on militants in self-defence.
“Canadians deserve to know the risks that our troops are facing and when they are involved in an exchange of fire. It is unacceptable that the Liberals deliberately withheld this information from Canadians and now refuse to provide further details. The Minister of National Defence owes the friends and family of those deployed an explanation.
“This secretive behavior is hypocritical of the Liberals who continually called for more briefings on Operation IMPACT while in opposition. In reality, the previous Conservative government held 19 technical briefings and fully disclosed all information when our soldiers had to defend themselves. In fact, prior to February 2016, Canada’s air contribution was praised as ‘the most transparent approach of all participating militaries’.
“The transparency practiced by the previous Conservative government allowed Canadians to follow the mission while maintaining operational security.
“We call on the Liberals to immediately restore regular technical briefings on Operation IMPACT. It is especially important that the government provide updates when the nature of the mission and associated risks change. Canadians and Parliament deserve to be informed of the great work being done by the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.”