Justin Trudeau, NATO, and the problem with backseat ministering

The attacks in Paris raise questions about the prime minister’s policies. But he should get a chance to answer them.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses as he addresses the media on the terrorist attacks in Paris prior to his departure for the G20 and APEC summits from Ottawa, Friday November 13, 2015. Trudeau says Canada has offered all the support it can to France following Friday's attacks in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses as he addresses the media on the terrorist attacks in Paris prior to his departure for the G20 and APEC summits from Ottawa, Friday November 13, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

I thought the new Prime Minister looked rattled and tentative in his remarks at the Canadian government hangar at Ottawa Airport on Friday night. Judge for yourself here, in a video from the CBC.

If there was a night to be rattled and tentative, Friday was it. Dozens lay dead in Paris; it was still, nearly five hours after the first reports of shots and explosions, a chaotic and uncertain situation; much of Trudeau’s ambitious travel itinerary was now open to sudden revision.

And, of course, if the slaughter was perpetrated by people who had or claimed links to the so-called Islamic State terrorist group, then two of Trudeau’s biggest plans would face new questions: his intent to withdraw CF-18 fighters from action over Iraq and Syria, and his plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the New Year. Indeed, the only question Trudeau took at the airport before boarding his flight, from Global reporter Jacques Bourbeau, addressed both issues. Trudeau left wiggle room but indicated that for now, he doesn’t intend to change his plans.

Related: Why Islamic State is more dangerous than ever

By Saturday it was looking like the questions won’t go away. Two of the Paris killers were associated with the passports of Syrians registered as refugees in Greece earlier this year. (UPDATE, Sunday: There are serious questions about the authenticity of the passports. Le Monde‘s reporter on the story quotes Christiane Taubira, France’s justice minister, saying the passports are fake.) Poland’s new populist government announced it won’t accept any new refugees in the wake of the Paris tragedy. France’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, was saying “we must wipe out the enemies of the Republic.” Most significantly, both Valls and France’s president, François Hollande, called the attacks “an act of war.”

The apparent involvement of Syrians who entered Europe under the guise of refugees (UPDATE, Sunday: See my note above. There authenticity of the Syria connection is seriously challenged by French authorities – pw) casts doubt, by association, on millions of others. Poland’s announcement—which came so fast it was hard to shake the suspicion that the country’s new Law and Justice government was grateful for the pretext—contrasts with Trudeau’s plan. But the phrase “act of war,” pronounced by the leaders of one of Europe’s biggest governments, has particular significance.

Jason Kenney, the former defence minister, was quick to assert that Hollande’s statement “has implications for Canada under the NATO Treaty’s Article 5.” Article 5 is the big one: it declares that an attack on one member state is an attack on all, and will meet a response from all. There followed a tirade from Kenney, interrupted with heckling from yours truly, to the effect that from the moment Hollande said the word “war,” Canada had a treaty obligation to ditch Trudeau’s plan to withdraw the CF-18s.

To call Kenney’s reasoning shaky would be to insult Jell-O. First, as NATO’s own website explains, you don’t invoke Article 5 with incantations. You do so at a meeting of the alliance’s North Atlantic Council, and Article 5 has been invoked precisely once in the alliance’s 70 years: after 9/11.

Second, again using NATO’s own language, “Allies can provide any form of assistance they deem necessary to respond to the situation. This assistance is not necessarily military and depends on the material resources of each country. Each individual member determines how it will contribute.” If Article 5 were formally invoked, that would not confer any obligation on any member state to apply lethal violence in the Iraq-Syria theatre. As it happens, the Liberal government’s policy—announced a year ago, tested in an election three weeks ago, repeated in Trudeau’s mandate letter to his new defence minister—is not to drop everything and come home, it’s to “refocus … Canada’s efforts in the region on the training of local forces and humanitarian support.”

Once implemented — it hasn’t been yet; Canadian jets are, at last report, still carrying out raids against ISIS targets — Trudeau’s policy would bring Canada into line with the activities of such honest-to-gosh NATO members as Spain, Slovakia, Norway, Bulgaria, Poland, Croatia and Romania. Jim Stavridis, the former U.S. navy admiral who served as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, dashed off an op-ed calling for NATO to attack ISIS. But even Stavridis called troop training — Trudeau’s avowed goal in the region — the “most important” project NATO could undertake if it gets involved.

People law flowers and light candles at the Place de la Republique square in Paris on November 14, 2015, following a series of coordinated attacks in and around Paris late on November 13. At least 128 people were killed in the Paris attacks on the evening of November 13, with 180 people injured, 80 of them seriously, police sources told AFP.  (MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

People lay flowers and light candles at the Place de la Republique square in Paris on November 14, 2015, following a series of coordinated attacks in and around Paris late on November 13. At least 128 people were killed in the Paris attacks on the evening of November 13, with 180 people injured, 80 of them seriously, police sources told AFP. (MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

On all of these elements—speed and quantity of refugee welcome, armed intervention against Islamic State—it’s easy to imagine Trudeau’s plans changing in the Paris aftermath. But we just had an election on these precise questions, and the voters’ judgment was not vague. It’s disturbing to see a former defence minister and near-certain aspirant to the Conservative leadership invoke Canada’s most fundamental mutual-security alliance with little apparent understanding of what it says or means. (One presumes, of course, that Kenney knows precisely what he’s talking about, and therefore that he stands on quicksand with his claims, but that he figured a little weekend arm-waving wouldn’t hurt.)

I’m also a little tired of these Conservative party chicken hawks. If the fight against Islamic State is existential, then don’t send a measly six CF-18s. If procuring new fighters is fundamental to Canada’s security, procure some. If Canada doesn’t cut and run, then don’t end Jean Chrétien’s Afghanistan deployment just because Stephen Harper grew weary of the fight. If the way to stop refugees leaving Syria is to make Syria less of a hellhole, then don’t give Bashar al-Assad carte blanche.

If, on the other hand, you belonged to a government that ended the Afghanistan mission, deployed nothing more than cross words against Assad, and did not send more hardware to the region than Belgium and the Netherlands, then maybe do a little less chest-beating.

One more thing. For reasons that remain unexplained, except for Trudeau’s comment the day after the October election that he would draw down Canada’s military deployment in Iraq in a “responsible” way, the RCAF is still running bombing raids over there. Which means Trudeau’s policy has not yet been implemented in any way. Which means that right through Friday’s attack in Paris, Canada’s policy against Islamic State was Stephen Harper’s and Jason Kenney’s policy. That’s the sort of chain of events that might inspire some humility, in a party that professes to be remorseful about its “tone.”

None of this answers whether Trudeau should change his policy in the light of these gruesome new events. Elsewhere on our pages, colleague Petrou argues Trudeau really should. I’ve never been sure what the right way forward in that region might look like. But a new prime minister should at least get a chance to meet Canada’s allies in a string of high-stakes summits before the ex-ministers who ran the show up to now can feel free to backseat drive.

Mourning on the morning after


Justin Trudeau, NATO, and the problem with backseat ministering

  1. Baptism By Fire eh? Looks like the perfect time for Trudeau to take a different approach. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. The old war mongering crap is just playing into “someone’s hands”. The Republicans love this stuff.
    Maybe someone has to stand up and say ….we are not playing your game anymore. As a new age Prime Minister maybe it must be left up to you to do the unexpected.
    You poke us and we poke back and at the same time limit our own freedoms in a misguided attempt to be seen to be doing something. It is a lose lose strategy for us. so we are changing the rules of engagement. We will stiffle our fear and anger for the better good. Lets talk. You’re attempts to disgust us is disgusting. But we are stronger than you.

  2. the only thing I got out of this dribble is that Paul Wells has a hate on for the Conservatives. Doesn’t help out much for the rest of us looking for a fresh perspective on the tragedy. The Liberals are now in power BTW, your rant is outdated and mis-directed.

    • Criticism of opposition positions is, and always has been, fair game, just as criticism of government positions has been and always will be. The fact that the Conservative party is now in opposition does not mean their positions cannot or should not be criticized.

      Opposition should oppose sensibly and constructively. Our country needs that kind of government opposition, but we’re not seeing it yet from Jason Kenney. The opposition we’ve seen so far amounts to nothing more than declaring that voters don’t like what they did on October 19th.

      • Trudeau is doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing, not reacting to the reaction, by reacting to the reaction(bombing), he would only be driving fear, the message the terrorists want us to take. By not reacting, he is sending a signal or message, we will never show signs of fear in the face of fear.

        • Trudeau the liberals and anyone who support this chicken sh#t PM should be ashamed to call themselve Canadian. He embarrassed himself and Canada at the G20, babbling about infrastructure posing for selfies and stumbling through all of 60 seconds of drivel. Oh wait… what happened with that “face to face with Putin” Trudeau was slipping in his own sh#t getting out of Putin’s way. This country is Fu#Ded.

    • Paul Wells is the anti-Conservative, absolutely. I am tired of the constant attacks in the media against Harper and the Conservatives. They did a pretty decent job during troubled times. How ’bout some objective journalism for a change? How ’bout encouraging Trudeau to be open to rethink his stances in the situation? Sticking to his guns may end up endangering the country, but hey…at least he isn’t a Conservative! I would respect him a lot more if he were to take into account new developments and be willing to re-assess. He should take into account the outlook and stance of other world leaders in the face of an ever increasing threat. All it would take would be three or four of the 25,000 barely screened Syrian refugees to slip through as extremists to put Ottawa or Toronto or Montreal on level footing with Paris. Let’s use our heads, not our bleeding hearts!

      • Ypu seem to want the Prime Minister to rethink his stances on the spur of the moment without doing any of the reassessing that you demand that he undertake. You don’t know that he isn’t taking in new developments and reassessing his policies – you just assume that he is without any evidence. You think that he should talk to other world leaders and do what they think he should do – did you think the same way when Mr. Harper was running the show – govern by foreign committee? Considering that most, if not all, of the attackers in Paris were homegrown, it would seem ridiculous to worry about people who have received background checks and are fleeing ISIS and an equally violent government in Syria.
        Conservative rants about media bias are equally strawman in nature and tedious beyond belief – nothing requires you to partake of any of it, even the CBC. I have no interest in Sun News output, I don’t partake. You don’t like this site or any other – you have lots of places to go even though you claim the media is biased. The National Post, The Globe and Mail, a host of regional Sun Newspapers across the country along with other Post Media outlets. Right wing talk radio abounds throughout Canada. Ezra Levant has you covered on the Web – the fact that there weren’t enough conservatives in this country to sustain Sun News TV is your own fault, not those who didn’t watch it.

  3. Saudi Arabia’s Syrian adventures may soon be over

    Reports of Saudi king’s possible visit to Russia indicate that Saudi Arabia’s adventurism in Syria is coming to a close.

    According to the Russian presidential press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, the visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Russia is being worked out and agreed through diplomatic channels.

    This shows Riyadh is ready to reach a ‘compromised solution’ on the Syrian crisis – a solution that may not be what the US seems to be attempting to achieve through its renewed engagement in Syria and Iraq and its (possible) policy of balkanization of Syria into different “safe zones.”

    As is evident, the kingdom’s engagement in Syria and Yemen has rather grown overstretched. Military fatigue in Yemen and resource fatigue in Syria seem to be getting the better of its establishment that no longer seems ‘energetic’ enough to keep itself embroiled in the conflict, especially when no ‘rational’ and balanced solution, as far as the Saudi position is concerned, is available in the hindsight.

    While a clear ‘victory’ in Syria does not seem to be possible under the given circumstances, Saudi Arabia’s own rapidly weakening economic position seems to be playing the central role in determining broader contours of its foreign policy. As it stands, the House of Saud appears to be making serious efforts to take its relations with Putin’s Russia to an entirely new level.

    As far as Saudi Arabia’s economic position is concerned, consider these facts: the treasury of the regional leader is certainly at risk of running dry, and the “kingdom of the welfare state” can expect bankruptcy, according to IMF. Up to now, the financial holes – the budget deficit this year is projected to be 21.6% of GDP – have been covered by the earlier petrodollar savings.

    However, this summer, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency was forced to withdraw $70 billion from foreign investment funds assets. It can be assumed this is only the beginning of the return of capital to their homeland to tide over the emerging new outgoings.

    Saudi Arabia’s chief regional allies, too, seem to be falling out of their erstwhile, and so-called, position of ‘strength.’ Already, the cumulative budget deficit of Middle Eastern oil-exporting countries in the next five years could reach $1 trillion.

    Hence, Saudia’s “friendly” gestures towards Russia. It is remarkable to note how Saudi position is changing vis-à-vis the Russian campaign in Syria.

    When Russia launched its air-strikes in Syria, Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to denounce these strikes as “reactionary” and potentially “counter-productive.”

    However, recent developments such as King Salman’s up-coming visit to Moscow indicate that Saudi Arabia has started to come round to the ‘Russian way’ of resolving the Syrian crisis.

    In this context, the statement by Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the US and former intelligence chief, is significant.

    He openly expressed his ‘confidence’ that Russia’s strategy on Syria is more effective than that of the US, and that the Russian point of view demands “attention and respect.”

    While Russian view with regard to Syria or Assad’s position as its legitimate ruler has not changed since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, Saudi Arabia’s position has undergone significant change.

    Recently, Riyadh issued a ‘secret document’ to its embassies in the Middle East instructing them to stop ‘funding’ the so-called Syrian ‘rebels’. This indicates that the House of Saud is ‘no longer’ in a position to achieve its basic objective of overthrowing Assad’s regime.

    This trend, if it continues to develop, is a major positive step towards peace in the region.

    Saudi money had been financing numerous terrorist groups in their desperate effort to topple the Assad regime during the monarchy of King Abdullah and Prince Bandar, his intelligence chief responsible for the war against Assad.

    Bandar was fired soon after Salman took over, signaling a possible but slight change in Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. This change was officially stamped when Saudi Arabia’s defence minister visited Russia in mid-2015.

    This ‘constructive engagement’ seems to have strong economic underpinnings as the Saudis seem to be very interested in participating and opening for themselves, as also for their regional allies, doors to the greatest global infrastructure in history — China’s One Belt, One Road port and rail Eurasian infrastructure development where Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union states are being fully integrated in an ‘economic union.’

    For Riyadh, such a development, if it eventually occurs, would be a far more positive development than funding thousands of terrorists who will certainly come to threaten Saudi Arabia and its allies if not totally defeated in Syria and Iraq.

    The Saudis certainly seem to have developed a sort of ‘self-realization’ of the way they have been unable to place themselves as a Mid-Eastern hegemon.

    The policy shift certainly also indicates that the Saudis are far more interested in buttressing their economy through an “alliance for oil” with Russia.

    A strong indication of this “alliance for oil” came just three days after Prince Salman’s Sochi talks with Putin. Alexander Novak, Russian Energy Minister, announced that Russia is planning to meet with Saudi Arabian counterparts, as well as Iranian, in November, to discuss the current oil market.

    While Saudi Arabia does stand to gain a lot economically through an alliance with Russia, Moscow does have much to harness out this renewed engagement with the House of Saud. As a matter of fact, a deal with Saudi Arabia could produce incremental oil revenue of around $180 billion a year for Moscow.

    On the other hand, forced by its economy, Saudi Arabia is seeking higher energy prices for consumers within the country, as reported by the Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi. Responding to a question whether the kingdom is going to reduce energy subsidies in the near future, the Saudi official said: “Your question concerns whether we are considering such a possibility? Yes, we are considering it.”

    It has certainly become important for the House of Saud to shuffle domestic oil price because the kingdom is losing out on potential revenue by selling oil on the domestic market at a much cheaper rate than on the foreign market. Currently, Saudi Arabia spends about $86 billion a year in subsidies for oil producers.

    It is obvious that to revamp its economy, Saudia needs higher price in global market too — something it cannot politically afford to do without taking Russia and Iran on board under the given circumstances.

    Were it to repeat its policy of causing them ‘damage’, the Saudis would unwittingly fall a prey to the trap they were to set for them. The Saudia, as it appears, seem to have learnt something out of the chaos they have caused over the years in the Middle East.

    An ‘alliance for oil’ might just do the opposite. A deal on oil price, to be eventually pushed towards $100 or more a barrel, does make political and economic sense for both Russia and Saudi Arabia.

    However, for that to occur, the House of Saud will have to go beyond merely ‘stopping’ funding Syria-based terrorists.

    For stabilizing the oil market, the ‘Arab coalition’, aiding as it is the US-led coalition, will have to stop bombing Syrian oil fields and prevent the so-called “mini oil caliphate” (Islamic State) from bumping oil into markets for as low as $10 a barrel.

    Only then can order emerge out of chaos.


    • Are you saying that Saudi can make a deal with Russia outside of OPEC to change the price of oil for only a few countries…..
      Putin is in Syria. He has an airfield. Why would he not just bomb the Saudi oil fields…. Who is going to come to their defense……He turns off the oil flow and the prices rise which he needs. Maybe that is the deal he is making with the Saudi princes…….stop the fight with Syria, support Assad and shut down the flow the oil to raise the price or I bomb your oil fields. I recently read the Saudi has to have $109.00 a barrel of oil to break even due to the extent of the subsidies in their country. Everything is free and they subsidize the gas to citizens only pay 10 percent of the cost. There citizens do not really work. They import doctors, nurses, oilfield workers, etc. They are bleeding cash at this low barrel cost and with 2 expensive wars. Putin has set himself up in a very good position but I am not sure with OPEC, how only one or two producers can benefit.

      • Thank you for your reply. I believe that the Asiatimes report by Mr. Salman Rafi indicates the beginning of the end of U.S.A. superpower status, as well as the end of European colonial influence within the Middle East North Africa (MENA) regions. It appears the Russians are in the process of replacing the U.S. and E.U. as protectorates of the M.E.N.A. oil producing countries existing rulers. Thus in concert with Venezuela and Brazil will in foreseeable centuries control the majority of the world’s known reserves of naturally occurring hydrocarbons and protect existing infrastructures, without the impediments of ‘climate change activism’ nor alternative sources of energy displacing their market shares. Historians will view the blockade of Canada’s hydrocarbons from reaching world markets and Canadian politicians subscribing to the imagined theory that humans control Earth’s climate as humankind’s pivotal turning point in the suppression of equality, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.

    • You don’t expect us to read all that do you? Here’s a rule of thumb: If your comment has a higher word count than the article you are responding to, edit for length.

      • Ah, the impatient backroom editor who speaks for no one.

  4. I find Wells’ criticism of Kenney most interesting. While I am not about to defend Kenney’s twisted interpretation of the substance contained in Article 5 to further his argument, I found it disappointing to see Wells descend to such a low quality of debate. There are a few examples that support this but the most glaring is when Wells accuses Kenney’s government of “deploying nothing more than cross words against Assad.” In all fairness, this is an absolutely ridiculous point to use as a crutch for supporting his argument against Kenney. To suggest that Canada could have done anything against Assad without America first taking action is absolutely ridiculous. While it is undeniable that there were many good reasons that would have supported intervening against Assad’s regime, it is Obama’s failure to act as a world leader that is to blame. Even the most zealous patriot will readily admit that the only military role Canada will ever play is that of a supporting player. It is ludicrous to blame the West’s failure to act against Assad on the Harper government. While this is the kind of supporting argument I might expect from a blabbering college freshman, it is certainly not the type of mud-slinging I’d expect from an experienced editor.

  5. We had voted for change but never really understood his arbitrary position on this issue other than abject pacificism, like his father. However, now the situation is amplified, and frankly as a Canadian, am really, really hoping he does not embarrass us as a gutless airhead. Hoping he makes the right decision and supports that we as a people made the right one too.

    • I do not know what is there that you do not understand? He was very explicit during election what he plans to do and he is doing it.
      Do you like politicians who make promises and once elected they do not keep them (like Harper on accountability, transparency, openness, Senate reforms and …. the list is too long to go on). Is this what you want a “new Harper” as PM? You must be disappointed – I ma sorry for you.

      • You sad pathetic excuse for a Canadian..you are supporting a gutless(like his old man) man child who’s only purpose on this planet is too make his own life better…Canada be damned. You voted this POS into office now you have to life with it.

        • Other than the father reference, you seem to be describing Harper.

  6. It is worth mentioning that neither Britain nor Germany are involved with the bombing missions and that Canada, if and when the bombing is discontinued, will still be very much a part of the coalition…

    There is a lot of repetition and group think in reporting this situation. But the situation in Syria/Iraq is similar to the war in Afghanistan in that the fighters and arms came across the order from Pakistan . The Taliban was born there and had haven there,so the allies fought and died putting out brush fires while the real fire was burning across the border.

    Same thing here-Gulf money especially Saudi money set up and bankrolled the various Jihadi groups including ISIS.


  7. Wells better be careful – Kenney is after all a high school graduate.

  8. Thankfully, Wells hasn’t yet joined the knee-jerk throngs who, post-Paris, have concluded Canada must , more than ever, continue Harper’s belligerent bombing campaign in Iraq & Syria. Imo, the events in Paris demonstrate exactly why Canada should NOT continue bombing ISIS. Why should Canada invite upon itself the same fate Paris just suffered? Why should France continue & escalate its own bombing campaign, inviting even more & worse terrorist attacks against itself from ISIS? It’s madness.

    ISIS has become a movement, & bombing it won’t make the movement go away, but bombs will provoke the movement’s adherents to retaliate. It’s not Canada’s or France’s fight, it’s the U.S.’s fight. Arguably, America created ISIS as the force it is today by invading & destabilizing Iraq on false pretenses (fictional WMDs), ousting secular Saddam, & creating huge vacuums Sunni extremists are all too happy to fill & expand. It’s America’s shameful mess, not Canada’s. The U.S. “broke it.” Let the U.S. try to repair it. As Wells suggests our six CF18s are a militarily meaningless contribution, anyway. The U.S.’ s monster military doesn’t NEED our little CF18s. Why should Canada make its cities more vulnerable to becoming terrorist war zones like Paris in order to provide window dressing/moral cover to the U.S. in its attempt to clean up the international ISIS mess it created in its own American arrogant stupidity?

    France’s Pres. Hollande calls the Paris attacks “an act of war.” Yes, an act of war in a war France declared & started first. France attacked ISIS first, & ferociously. ISIS didn’t attack it first. ISIS retaliated after relentless French attacks that killed & obstructed ISIS forces. As if France was just peacefully minding its own business when ISIS attacked Paris. Yeah, right. If you wilfully poke a hornets’ nest with a long stick, don’t be surprised that the hornets feel provoked & sting you in retaliation.

    America largely created ISIS. Let the U.S. try to repair the damage with their multi-trillion dollar monster military. I prefer my Canadian city to remain safe from ISIS attacks, safe from turning into a bloody war zone like Paris, & safe from my own gov’t stupidly provoking ISIS terrorism via ongoing bombing campaigns against them that pander to the U.S. as the U.S. tries once again to repair the damage it arrogantly & idiotically created in the middle east. Harper’s bombing campaign in Iraq & Syria was Canadian folly. Trudeau is prudent & wise to end the bombing. Canadians are much safer under no-bombs Trudeau than they were under bomber-commander Harper. Harper’s Torues were hazardous to your health, folks, & the events in Paris illustrate just how potentially hazardous Harper was to Canadians’ well being.

    • ISIL is asking its followers everywhere to go and out and create havoc. That is very likely what happened with the two Canadian military who were killed last year. Canada is small potatoes but it is too late, already over 120 extremists have the left the country to go and fight for ISIL. How many do you think are in the country wanting to do their part, especially now that we are in a bit of bust. How much damage did a home grown terrorist like Timothy McVie do…What set him off…what set the unibomber off. What about the countless people who armed with guns go into universities. People look for reasons. To pretend we can keep them from finding one is really naive.

    • Bob Bee,

      I was as vigorously opposed as anyone to the US invasion of Iraq. However, that is history, and now the Western World must deal with the outcome. Saddam Hussein was never much of a threat beyond his own borders. ISIS, on the ther hand, is the most evil and dangerous entity to walk the planet since the defeat of the Nazis, and it must be dealt with before the cancer grows to the proportions of the 1940s Third Reich. It has already metastisized into several countries and grown enormously in the past year.

      Defeating ISIS goes far beyond our Duty to Protect. Your craven suggestion that Canada should “mind its own business” to avoid retaliation by the barberians is naive beyond measure and shows zero understanding of Islamism. ISIS has not been shy about advertising its ultimate objective of winning enough support among Muslims (at least among the Sunni majority) to enable the expansion of its “caliphate” throughout the world. That might take 50 years or even a century but, if we cower helplessly in the face of an intractable and fanatic adversary, the outcome will be inevitable. If the caliphate eventually acquires nuclear weapons, the denoument will come much sooner. In any event, without western intervention, we can kiss most of the Middle East and North Africa goodbye within a decade.

      The world urgently needs a Churchill in place of the little Chamberlins currently in charge. (Socialist Hollande is a happy exception).

      • “ISIS, on the ther hand, is the most evil and dangerous entity to walk the planet since the defeat of the Nazis,”

        Odd that they can only muster a fraction of the death and destruction of the Assad regime. So how is it that you got to here: ” without western intervention, we can kiss most of the Middle East and North Africa goodbye within a decade” ?
        Maybe you can show your work.

        • Certainly, to date, the Assad regime has killed more civilians than than ISIS. However, he is not a threat to the West and, thanks to craven Obama and his empty bluster about red lines, that debacle can’t by reversed. The dead can’t be revived.

          Show you my work? What do you mean? I have eyes and ears to absorb the threats by ISIS openly bragging about its unspeakable atrocities. Also, I lived in ME and NA for a few years – long enough to be exposed to the more wild-eyed Sunni adherents. When they threaten to eliminate “infidels” you bet that I believe them.

          • I mean what evidence suggests that an organization that can’t even come close to waging the levels of death and destruction of a middling ME power like Assad are the most “dangerous entity” walking the planet and are going to take over the ME and North Africa?
            Do you actually have any, or is it just that you sit at home watching their snuff flicks and soiling yourself?

  9. France 24 reports that Greek entry applications were made by two of the Paris attackers, according to police sources. One of the three suicide bomber suspects at the Stade de France may have landed as a refugee on the Aegean island of Leros on October 3, using a Syrian passport. More detailed information on another is still being sought.

    So far, there is no proven tie between the attackers and the documents found. Police caution that the Greek travel documents may have been stolen or sold.

    One of three attackers at the Bataclan theatre has been identified by fingerprint as Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 30-year-old French national, from the Paris suburb of Courcouronnes. His father and brother were also taken into custody. He was the only one of the seven who was ‘known to police.’

    “Several more arrests” – at least three – were made in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, Belgium. Those arrests are linked to two rental vehicles used by the three teams of attackers in Paris.

  10. Sad that Paul Wells is so pathetically anti Conservative. Expect fawning over Trudeau to continue. The Laurentian Elite think they are the only idea worth considering. Its the fun thing in their little circle.

    • Typical Conservative rhetoric. The Conservatives are the true elite. Why elso do you think they have the largest donations? Harper continually gave the millionaires and billionaires more money back while ignoring the poor, seniors, veterans etc. who don’t have the resources to donate to political parties.

    • Wells often took up the Conservative cause during Harper’s years in office; he’s just not a sycophant. If he thinks someone got something right, he says so; conversely, if he thinks they got it wrong, he calls them on it.

      The language used here is a bit stronger than Wells often uses; the frustration is evident. That doesn’t make him anti-CPC or pro-Liberal; it makes him someone who has finally had enough of the BS. Wells knows that Kenney knows better. You’d think a bunch that just got thrown out of office for lying to the nation in such a patronizing way would be looking to change their ways – but Kenney just goes for the cheap shots and hopes no one will notice the lies.

      To me, Wells’ comments could easily reflect a conservative frustrated by a party that continues to let him down. In fact, given his book on Harper and many other pieces he’s written, I’m inclined to think that’s exactly what this little rant is about: not pro-Liberal, but conservative and let down.

  11. To suggest that I, and millions of others, voted Liberal to affirm Justin’s foreign policy is as ridiculous as Kenney’s interpretation of Article 5. An election devoid of a good option does not a solid mandate make.

    • There were no good options in this election, but it would appear that you chose the worst of the three. It’s unfortunate that so many people got swept up by their emotions caused by the “anyone but Harper” campaign, but hopefully this will be a lesson for Canada in the future. Vote with your head, not your heart…

      • I did vote with my head and I did ^NOT^ vote for the Conservatives.

    • The Liberal Party Platform is a total hoax, it’s designed for gullible voters. It has no practicality, zero pragmatism, zero efficiency The Conservatives will have many, many occasions to hit the Liberals in the head and the language won’t be academic. Get used to it.

      • It doesn’t have to be academic. But it ought to be honest. Kenney knows better.

    • The angst on this thread is delicious.

      – The Liberal win isn’t a mandate because there were no good options.

      – The Liberal government was only elected because stupid Canadians voted with their emotions, they were gullible, the Liberal platform was a hoax.

      – A journalist criticizing an opposition statement (from a guy who was Minister of Defense *three weeks ago*) for being utterly wrong on the facts – well, that’s proof that Trudeau can’t take the heat, and the media is in love with him.

      – Why, oh why doesn’t Trudeau continue his predecessor’s policy, what was wrong with Harper’s policy?!?


      • 80% of Canadians believe that gender parity in the Cabinet is a good idea.But how many countries have a Cabinet based on quotas ? Only Canada! So, it a platform “designed” for gullible voters. Unless we think that Canadians are the most brilliant people in the world. Is it true ?! Yours to discover!

        • What does this have to do with the topic at hand? Does Kenney know what he’s talking about or not? If he does, why is he lying? If he doesn’t… why the hell was he our Minister of Defence in the former government? What does that say about the quality of the government we just booted?

      • Everything was wrong with Harpers policies. Keep giving money to the really rich while ignoring the poor, our veterans, our seniors, FIrst Nations doesn’t work…Although I do realize those unfortunate ones don’t and can’t donate to political parties. Appoint Senators that are unqualified and unvetted just to go out on the taxpayers dime to fly all over Canada to raise money for Harpers party. Call anyone who doesn’t agree with your ideology an enemy to be destroyed? Spend $750 Million on partisan advertising? could go on but I will guess I am wasting my time because you will never get it.

        • Be prepared for 4 years of economic disaster. The ecologists want top notch environment protection measures. The aboriginals want ownership on any project regarding the natural resources. That means the investors won’t invest anymore in oil, gas and other extractions. All the new projects from Alberta and Saskatchewan will be on hold as long the Liberals are in power. Harper doubled the amount people can invest under tax free saving accounts. He did it because he observed more and more people put money in RRSP and the CRA collect less and less taxes. Giving people the opportunity to put more money under TFSA increases the tax collection. People might find attractive to invest money after tax under TFSA ( eg stock market ). Trudeau wants to reverse this decision.It’s a stupid idea. Everybody will put money in RRSP. The government will be in much bigger deficit that they think.Trudeau said he will invest in infrastructure to create jobs. Here’s the problem, the infrastructure is needed in the most populated provinces, Ontario for example. But in Ontario the unemployment rate is 5.8%. So, creating jobs in Ontario doesn’t make too much sense. They have jobs anyway. Efficient is to create jobs in the provinces from Atlantic, where the unemployment rates are over 10%. Unfortunately investing in infrastructure in small provinces doesn’t pay off. These are the issues Harper found out after implementing Canada’s Action Plan. Trudeau won this elections by “selling” us Harper’s old plan that didn’t work as expected. But he didn’t realize that. So, in other words, we are screwed!

  12. Poor Justy. The Opposition are big, bad, mean people who question his decisions. They should just leave him alone and go away.

    • That’s a weird comment. Trudeau hasn’t complained about press or opposition.

      • No but that is basically what Paul Wells is complaining about.

        • No – he’s complaining that Kenney, who knows full well what the real deal is, is lying to Canadians to stir up anti-Trudeau sentiment before the Liberals have even begun to implement their policy. They are continuing with the very same crappy strategy that got them booted in the first place.

  13. When Harper sent the CF-18 fighters in Syria he said ” we will do our share, nothing less, nothing more” and this is probably what we should do as NATO members. What’s wrong with Harper’s position ?
    What I see wrong is to withdraw the fighters when other allies have been just convinced to send troops in Syria. Everybody will ask “What’s wrong in Canadians head ?”

  14. Nice “smack-down” of Kenney. Well deserved.

    When’s the chicken hawk leaving for “the front”?

    • He’s too busy hiding in his Calgary closet… blow-hards like Kenney don’t set foot in dangerous places … they stay home, feather their election war chests with taxpayer dollars and send others to do the dirty work.

  15. The obvious question we should be asking many other journalists is, given what we know about the record of the former government, how they can now attribute any credibility to any member of said former government.

  16. I agree with Wells that Trudeau looked tentative. He had nothing to say and should not have been out there that soon.
    Obama and Cameron are experienced world leaders who can say all the right things at the drop of a hat in these situations. Trudeau should have waited a while.
    Trudeau has his options open and could without personal damage announce say a 6 month bombing extension or ramped up security at home, or more troops on the ground for training in Iraq.
    He is not in such a bad corner as being suggested by a lot of TV reports.
    Kenney seems to be doubling down on the hard line Harper rhetoric. Will this help in the leadership race. against Raitt or Clement another moderate?

    • The more Lisa Raitt keeps her mouth shut, the better she looks. She also appears to be one of the few Conservatives with acquired political smarts.

      • Yeah … Lisa learned from her “Cancer is sexy” comment ….

  17. On top of which, if the actions of the former government were so salutary and effective, how is it that ISIS has managed to pull off its recent attacks in Egypt, Beirut and Paris. If Jason Kenney wants to drive from the back of the bus, he should at least provide better directions than the ones that got us lost in the first place.

  18. Mr. Wells, quite the scathing rebuttal to Jason Kenney’s tweet advocating for the continuation of Canada’s current military role in Iraq and Syria.

    I agree with you’re assertion that the Harper government were military “chicken hawks”:

    – token air and ground support against ISIS

    – no plan to procure CF-18 replacements, just a bunch of pathetic political vacillating and years of process churn-churn-churn.

    – the government still has no process for procuring anything: Every procurement is a nightmare challenge to determine needs, industrial benefits, political benefits, budget funds and get contracts signed

    – Harper declared Canada wouldn’t “cut and run” from Afghanistan, then he did exactly that – and Nobody cared!

    – the “decade of darkness” that Harper said the military suffered under the Chretien Liberals was no worse that the following decade under Harper: Less than 1% of GDP annual investment, no jets, no combat OR supply ships, submarines that still don’t work

    – Harper said ‘it’s not how much you spend, it’s what you do with it’, which is complete BS coming from a chicken-hawk

    – Harper cut military spending to balance the budget in time for the 2015 election: Is that Canada’s ‘white paper’ on National Defense under Harper?

    – Is Canada’s secret white paper called “If the Sh!t Hits the Fan, The Americans Will Save Us”?

    From the looks of it and the Liberal election platform, Trudeau Junior will do even worse.

    Absolutely shameful.

  19. Paul Wells was never privy to the military intelligence that Jason Kenney was therefore he’s blowing smoke. Fight them there, leave them there in Turkey and keep them out of Canada.

  20. Perhaps the free world can just take the terrorists for coffee and try to find out why they do what they do. That is what Jack Layton wanted to do!!!!!! What a laugh.

    • “What a laugh.”

      Indeed. It’s hilarious to think that you might be a Canadian adult who believes what you wrote.

  21. Trudeau looked shocked to me, a valid response. It was a nice change from the bluster of the Conservatives. Chicken hawks indeed.

    I’m disgusted with the Conservatives’ rush to pressure Trudeau to keep enacting their policies. Call me naive, but I thought voting them out of power should bring some relief from their ignorant posturing. I need more than a two-week break from it. “We won’t hold it against him” Ambrose says. Oh, please. Softer voice notwithstanding, it’s the same old same old with them.

    • Good grief, they’re the opposition party. What should you expect from them if not, wait for… OPPOSITION!? If you are looking for someone to blindly agree with everything that the LPC is proposing right now, then you are in luck because the MSM appear to be filling that void quite sufficiently right these days.

  22. I do find it kind of odd that Jason Kenney seems to be twittering away to his heart’s content, makes me wonder if this is alignment with the party’s (interim) leadership, or does he just see himself above that and essentially appointed himself as the de facto mouthpiece?

  23. Bob Bee

    I was more vigorously opposed then most to the US invasion of Iraq. However, that is history, and now the Western World must deal with the outcome. Saddam Hussein was never much of a threat beyond his own borders. ISIS, on the ther hand, is the most evil and dangerous entity to walk the planet since the defeat of the Nazis, and it must be dealt with before the cancer grows to the proportions of the 1940s Third Reich. It has already metastisized into several countries and grown enormously in the past year.

    Defeating ISIS goes far beyond our Duty to Protect. Your craven suggestion that Canada should “mind its own business” to avoid retaliation by the barberians is naive beyond measure and shows zero understanding of Islamism. ISIS has not been shy about advertising its ultimate objective of winning enough support among Muslims (at least among the Sunni majority) to enable the expansion of its “caliphate” throughout the world. That might take 50 years or even a century but, if we cower helplessly in the face of an intractable and fanatic adversary, the outcome will be inevitable. If the caliphate eventually acquires nuclear weapons, the denoument will come much sooner. In any event, without western intervention, we can kiss most of the Middle East and North Africa goodbye within a decade.

    The world urgently needs a Churchill in place of the little Chamberlins currently in charge. (Socialist Hollande is a happy exception).

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