NEW YORK - Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the United States formally requested more help from Canada in fighting the extremist advances of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Harper told an audience of Canadian businesspeople here that he received the request within the past few days by letter, and since the U.S. hasn’t released the letter, he would not divulge details.
But he said the request is now before cabinet which would make a decision soon.
Canada has currently deployed 64 special forces commandos strictly as advisers in Iraq, and will announce what next steps it will take by Oct. 5, after a 30-day period. But he has consistently said it is not a combat mission, and repeated that here Tuesday.
Harper said the federal government would allow a debate in Parliament if Canada’s mission in the region changed, but no decision has yet been taken.
Harper elaborated on his views on the best way to fight extremism, including radicalized Canadians. He said it was in part, up to Muslim communities to fight extremism within their own ranks. But Harper said some “errant individuals” will always be drawn to radical political fringes, pointing to the baffling case of a Korean Canadian “kid” jailed in Mauritania on terrorism charges.
He said his government does not use the collection of “metadata” to conduct broad surveillance on Canadians, and believes targeted surveillance and intelligence gathering is the best approach to assessing real risk.