PM says Canada can’t sit on sidelines in fight against ISIL

Conservative government has faced sharp criticism for a lack of transparency

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Chris Wattie/Reuters

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his spokesman in Parliament and even the U.S. ambassador reached out Friday to clarify whether Canada will expand its role in the battle against Islamic militants in the Middle East.
The Conservative government has faced sharp criticism for a lack of transparency on the role the Canadian Forces will play in dealing with the threat of the violent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant taking shape in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
Harper made it abundantly clear that Canada could well end up providing more of a contribution than the 69 special-forces “advisers” who are currently taking part.
“There is a real threat against us,” an animated Harper, flanked by European leaders in town to cement their new trade relationship with Canada, told a news conference on Parliament Hill.
“We cannot have a terrorist caliphate controlling a large swath of territory and carrying out terrorist attacks against targets here and around the world. We cannot accept that.”
Harper revealed during a public interview with the Wall Street Journal in New York this week that the U.S. had recently asked Canada to expand its role in the battle against the marauding al-Qaida splinter group known as ISIL.
The comment only fuelled criticism back home that he had not been forthcoming with Canadians about military plans, since he had been pressed for that kind of information in the Commons.
A news report Thursday that said it was Ottawa that approached Washington with a military offer, rather than the other way around, added to the confusion.
“I find this kind of bizarre,” Harper said when asked about the report. “Is this seriously suggesting that Canada is dragging the U.S. into military conflict? Let’s be serious here.”
U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman waded in saying Washington asked Canada for help, insisting that the sequence of conversations and communications between the two countries is of no matter.
“We’re actually not delineating in public conversation exactly what we’re asking for. We’re leaving that to dialogue and conversations between our two governments,” Heyman said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“But we are asking very specifically for additional support and help at whatever level Canada feels comfortable providing.”
Harper said the American requests are under consideration.
“I don’t want to suggest for a second that we do this reluctantly,” he said.
“We will always make our own decision, but we will make those decisions based on our capacity and based on our objectives. Ultimately, it is not our intention not to support our allies.”
He went on, presumably to make clear where his Conservative government stands on the question of taking the fight to ISIL.
“This phenomenon is a direct threat to the security of this country,” Harper said.
“People in this country should be under no illusion about this, as they are not in most of the world. These are extremely dangerous people who have continued to operate like this (and) will almost certainly launch terrorist attacks against a range of targets across the world, including this one. That has to be countered.”
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Thursday that if Canada were to contemplate playing a combat role, such as participating in airstrikes, it would be subject to a vote in Parliament.
Shortly before Harper’s news conference Friday, his parliamentary secretary Paul Calandra offered an emotional apology to the House of Commons for failing to answer direct questions on the military plans.
When NDP Leader Tom Mulcair had asked him about the Forces, Calandra responded repeatedly with a non-sequitur on Israel.
“I allowed the passion and the anger at something I read to get in the way of appropriately answering a question to the leader of the Opposition,” said Calandra, whose responses had been the fodder of viral social media ridicule.
“For that I apologize to you and to this entire House and to my constituents.”
Mulcair said he accepted Calandra’s apology. He encouraged the Conservatives to make public any exchange of letters that had transpired with Washington.
“I think we have to get to that point where we understand that Parliament’s not an afterthought,” Mulcair said Friday.
“Harper when he was leader of the opposition promised a consultation, full information, a vote on any military mission…We are expecting the government to come, provide full information and a proper vote.”

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PM says Canada can’t sit on sidelines in fight against ISIL

  1. This article helps keep things in perspective and is a great timeline to this fiasco. Harper had a disastrous week from his vacation in New York. The ISIS Crisis is providing cover for the PM’s yet again inappropriate activities and behaviour to a speech given to an empty UN Assembly.
    Harper is carrying around a “letter” that he received from the US regarding the ISIS Crisis. Ambassador Heyman has stated that all allies have received the request for assistance in dealing with ISIS. the UK, Belgian and Denmark have all jumped front and centre while Canada is dithering.. So what’s the problem here? I surmise, ..and I’m just spit balling here, is that “letter” has a quite a bit more to say than a request for assistance. With Harper keeping it under wraps can only mean it’s content is less than flattering.

    • but you made your own point, U don’t know what the letter says except for your telltale surmising(s) ?

      • We know it DIDN’T say what the PM told us it did. That was a bald-faced lie – for whatever stupid reason he said it. He should resign.

  2. Canada must not get involved and immediately withdraw all its military forces from the Middle East region, even if it must withdraw from Nato. The Persian Gulf monarchies, Israel, the UK and France, and especially the United States and its military adventures created this ISIL — Islamic State — problem and it is up to them to solve it.

  3. Well, gosh darn. The Belgians and Danes got ahead of us.
    The Belgians ! The Danes ! Who’s next ? Andorra ?
    Our cheerleading section gotta up their game.

    • If you had done your due diligence, you would see the Belgians and Denmark are experiencing horrific issues with islamics. They are experiencing what we will soon experience and they are regretting allowing islamics to immigrate – as there has not been one successful immigration of islamics into a western world.

      Canada and the US will soon see what France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Sweden are seeing.

      No matter how many people wish to keep their heads in the sand – and I admit there are many things I find distasteful about the middle east having served there for five tours of duty – it will happen there or it will happen here.

      Watch and see for yourself. It is coming.

      • You mean their Islamic ‘refugees’ are causing them ‘horrific issues’? Why is that not reported in the media?

    • What’s in it for Belgium and Denmark? What’s in it for us? ISIS/IL is no threat to any of these countries. And by now whatever happens to Iraq and Syria couldn’t be much worse than what we’ve already seen there. It’s so unimportant, we won’t accept any refugees.

  4. “I find this kind of bizarre,” Harper said when asked about the report. “Is this seriously suggesting that Canada is dragging the U.S. into military conflict? Let’s be serious here.”

    OK – let’s. Clearly, Mr. P.M., you are either completely clueless or you think Canadians are when you try to put THAT spin on the story.The story in question merely presented the possibility that you made the offer of assistance without being asked, contrary to your public statements.

    No one, anywhere, for a single minute, thought Canada was the primary aggressor who dragged the US into the conflict.

    You probably meant it as a humourous deflection, but the problem is: You. Aren’t. Funny.

    • So what’s the problem? I would imagine those who know about these things (The RCAF, the relevant Army Corps, and the RCN are busily trying to figure out what we CAN do since our forces are so small (without drawing on the Reserves, as we had to do in Afghanistan (and what we shouldn’t do again!). And the Services job is not to answer to Mulcair, (leader of the Opp by virtue of a fluke in the oft-changing population of the province he (also oft-changing) comes from!). I notice those on this thread are the same bunch who over the years have loved to give voice on almost anything they don’t know much about. The real concern is that this ISIS quirk does not blossom into a real caliphate!

      • Read my comment again. It is strictly limited to the idiotic attempt at deflection by the P.M., who – I hope in an attempt at humour, because otherwise one really has to question the man’s intelligence – tries to claim the story about Harper offering assistance (rather than being asked for it) really says that Canada “is dragging the U.S. into military conflict”.

        As for giving voice to things they don’t know about: Go back and read some of your own posts on this site.

    • Harper can’t even recognize/let alone respect, or honour, the soldiers, buried in a field, that he has unwittingly thought he was doing rightby as to what America told him “rightby” really was all about.

  5. From what I’ve seen – and it’s really all I know for sure, ISIS/IL could very well be same kind of media ‘construct’ presented to the UN as the excuse to invade Iraq or as the cause of Gulf War 1. It’s coming from the same folk who’ve called on the world to mobilize before, to fight a ”terror’ that was more frightening as presented than it ever turned-pout to be in actuality. These are the same people who cut back on the programs the might alleviate the suffering and distress that give rise to ‘terrorist movements’ – at home and abroad, but think nothing of ‘investing’ trillions new ‘security’ entities and operations. At the same time our resources were squandered on a massive destruction and disruption of South Asia – a massive failure, another chapter of which has become a ‘threat to peace’ again.

    I’m inclined to believe we’re the threat to peace, not ISIS, ISIL, AQ or any of the other acronymic ‘horrors’ we’ve created.

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