Yesterday (September 23), NDP Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair sought to learn how long Canadian soldiers will be in Iraq.
So he stood in Parliament and asked a man who might know—Paul Calandra, a Conservative MP and parliamentary secretary to the prime minister.
“Will the Conservative government confirm that the 30-day Canadian commitment in Iraq will indeed end on October 4?” Mulcair asked.
“Israel!” Calandra replied.
Over and over again.
Later that day, Conservative MP James Bezan eventually answered Mulcair’s question when it was asked by reporters. He said that a 30-day deployment is scheduled to expire on September 5.
According to the Globe and Mail, Bezan refused to answer any other questions about Canadian soldiers in Iraq because doing so might jeopardize Canada’s national security interests.
Here’s a complete transcript of the back-and-forth between Mulcair and Calandra. Because, democracy.
Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has failed to answer clear questions about his ill-defined military deployment in Iraq.
Yesterday, Conservatives refused once again to answer in this House, but the member for Selkirk—Interlake stated on CPAC that the mission will end on October 4.
Will the Conservative government confirm that the 30-day Canadian commitment in Iraq will indeed end on October 4?
Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal of confusion with respect to the NDP position on Israel.
I wonder if the Leader of the Opposition could confirm for me whether Alex Anderson, who identifies himself as a fundraiser at the New Democratic Party, speaks for the NDP when he says “[eff] the IDF and all who supports them. I am sick and tired of the media [BS] trying to sell lies and hide an [effing] genocide”.
Does Alex Anderson speak for the NDP when he says these shameful things?
Mulcair: Mr. Speaker, I can understand the confusion. We are in the Middle East and we are under the I's, but we are talking about Iraq.
It took over a week for the Prime Minister to answer a simple question about the number of troops involved in the Iraqi deployment. It now appears that Canadian soldiers may require visas approved by the Iraqi government.
Since this military deployment is still ongoing, and since it is set to conclude in 12 days, precisely how many Canadian soldiers are on the ground in Iraq today?
Calandra: Mr. Speaker, what does the Leader of the Opposition not understand? Our friends in Israel are on the front lines combatting terrorism.
When people who work for the NDP, like Alex Anderson, who identifies himself as a fundraiser at Canada's NDP, calls what the Israel Defense Forces are doing an effing genocide, and calls the media BS for not supporting the fact that they call it an effing genocide, what does he not understand?
Israel is on the front lines. Canada will continue to support our friends in Israel. We will stand up for peace and security around the world. Unlike them, we are not confused by our position.
Mulcair: Mr. Speaker, there are rules in the book about question period. You are our arbiter. We ask you to enforce the rules on relevance and on question period.
When asked at foreign affairs committee just a couple of weeks ago, the minister said that a status of forces agreement with Iraq outlining operating rules for Canadian forces had not yet been completed.
Has that agreement now been completed? If so, when can Canadians see it?
Calandra: Mr. Speaker, again, clearly the Leader of the Opposition does not identify or understand the fact that our friends in Israel are on the front lines combatting terrorism in the region.
That is why on this side of the House we support our friends in Israel. Unlike the NDP whose position is all over the place, Canada will stand up for Israel, will stand up for freedom around the world.
The NDP supporter calls it an effing IDF, and all those who support it. He claims that the media is ignoring it, and calls it BS.
We will stand up for Israel. We will stand up for—
The Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
Mulcair: Mr. Speaker, well, that does not speak very favourably about your neutrality in this House.
The Speaker: The hon. member for Papineau.