By: Dana Wagner on
Tom Mulcair, Leader of the Opposition and NDP MP for Outremont, in an interview on July 15, 2015
There are roughly 69 Canadian personnel deployed in Iraq. That could fit within a common understanding of “a few dozen.” But counting those posted in both Kuwait and Iraq as part of the same mission, the number climbs to 669.FactsCan Score: Misleading
Tom Mulcair is critical of the government’s talking points on the threat posed by Islamic State, and recently pointed out a difference in rhetoric and response. “Mr. Harper has tried to define this as the greatest threat we’ve ever faced,” Mulcair said about Islamic State in an interview with Maclean’s. “If that was the case, you’d think we’d have more than a few dozen soldiers there.”
In debate over what makes a proportionate response to Islamic State’s presence in Iraq and Syria, it’s important to get the proportions right.
Canada has more than “a few dozen soldiers” in the fight, depending on what role and location you count.
Canada’s mission against Islamic State, called Operation Impact, is part of an international coalition that’s fighting in both Iraq and Syria, where Islamic State fighters control territory. Canadians first deployed in September 2014, and in October, Parliament voted for a mission extension of six months. In March, Parliament gave the mission up to 12 additional months. Although other coalition forces are operating in both Iraq and Syria, Canadians are deployed in Iraq and Kuwait, with a majority in Kuwait where Canada’s aircraft are based.
According to official figures, there are roughly 69 Canadians in Iraq serving as advisors to Iraqi forces. These are all special forces members, hence the vague language. For operational security, the number is typically not exact. It’s “roughly,” “approximately” or “up to” 69. For the same reason, detail is scarce on which of the special forces’ five units make up the ground team. In a technical briefing in January, Brigadier-General Michael Rouleau would only say “generally for a mission of this type we draw from various units.”
A further approximately 600 personnel are stationed in Kuwait on Operation Impact. This number includes Armed Forces members who are part of an air task force, aircrew support, and in other roles.
In total, there are some 669 personnel deployed in Kuwait and Iraq.
These numbers appear on the Department of National Defence website, and Captain Kirk Sullivan, a public affairs officer with the department, confirmed in a July 21 email that the figures are current.
Mulcair did not respond to request for comment on which group he meant: the combined 669, the 600 in Kuwait, or the 69 in Iraq. On its own, the claim is misleading. It’s misleading even if he meant the smallest group. Calling 69 “a few dozen” is a bit of a stretch, but more importantly, the claim ignores that there are an additional 600 in Kuwait on the same operation.