WATCH: Defence Minister Jason Kenney revealed to Global News the cost of sending Canada’s troops to Iraq to combat the terror group ISIS. Jacques Bourbeau has the details.
OTTAWA — The first six months of Canada’s mission in Iraq will cost taxpayers at least $122 million, Defence Minister Jason Kenney told Global News on Monday, one day before the parliamentary budget officer releases his estimate of the mission.
The newly-minted minister said the $122-million figure represents only “incremental costs,” which is anything beyond costs the department would have incurred regardless of whether the troops were on a mission.
The minister said the full costs of the mission will not be known until the troops are home.
“Obviously, if we decide to bring our troops back at that point there will be extra costs,” Kenney said. “Or if we decide to extend [the mission] there would be ongoing costs.”
The costs for Iraq, though, have already exceeded what the government spent during its seven months in Libya.
The incremental costs for that 2011 mission were pegged at a little less than $100 million. The total cost for the mission, meanwhile, which included everything from salaries to equipment maintenance and jet fuel, reached a staggering $347 million.
Kenney said on Sunday he intended to table costs-to-date before the end of the month. On Monday, the parliamentary budget officer announced he would release his estimate of the mission Tuesday morning.
Before National Defence can spend the $122 million, Kenney will have to get permission from MPs and senators since this goes beyond the purse the department received for the year.
“When we tabled our budget … we weren’t aware of this mission,” he said, explaining Parliament will have to approve the figures. “But we think this is a reasonable price to pay for Canada defending international security, our own security and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.”
Earlier this month, ISIS claimed it burned a Jordanian pilot to death; for months, news of one beheading after another at the hands of ISIS have made headlines.
The costs will be included in supplementary estimates, which are tabled in Parliament up to three times per year, providing parliamentarians and the public information about additional funding the department may be looking for in order to fulfill its mandates.
Until Monday, the public and most of Parliament were in the dark on the costs of this ongoing mission, but some officials were in the know.
Months ago, the military provided estimated costs of the mission to the government, who consistently refused to make those numbers public.
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