Defining ‘non-combat deployment’ in fight with ISIL a tricky proposition: expert

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says 69 special forces soldiers have been sent to northern Iraq to advise and assist local forces in the fight against the militants known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper says 69 special forces soldiers have been sent to northern Iraq to advise and assist local forces in the fight against the militants known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Harper revealed the figure during a second straight day of question-period pressure from the opposition in the House of Commons.

Both the New Democrats and Liberals want Parliament to vote on the deployment, but Harper says that won’t happen because it’s not a combat mission.

When Canadian soldiers were in Afghanistan, the Conservatives twice gave the House a say in extending the mission in Kandahar, even though there is no law requiring input from elected officials.

Deploying troops is a prerogative of the prime minister and the federal cabinet under the Canadian system.

Experts, including the current head of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, say a prolonged struggle against ISIL could involve the use of western special forces, but President Barack Obama says there will be no large-scale deployment of troops.