Why Trudeau’s crass stance on Syria is lose-lose

By promising to pull out of the anti-Islamic State air campaign while still taking part in it, Canada has alienated both hawks and doves

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Doubtless, things would have been different had the NDP won the election last October. It would be Justin Trudeau, not Tom Mulcair, trying to justify his continued existence to a roomful of dejected troops. We in the media would be pondering when exactly the halo would tumble from Mulcair’s head, as we are doing with Trudeau at this very moment. There’d be more orange, less red. More beard, and less Vogue.

Yet on the issue of Canada’s participation in the military mission against Islamic State, there is little light between the positions of the very real Liberal government and that phantom NDP version—on paper, anyway. Both parties voted against the mission in October 2014, and both the Liberals and the NDP promised to end Canada’s participation in the mission as soon as they got the keys to 24 Sussex.

Both did so in similarly strident terms. “We will put an end to Canada’s participation in the combat mission in Iraq and in Syria,” Mulcair said last September. “We will end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq,” reads the Liberal platform, released last June. By all accounts, then, we should be well out of the campaign against Islamic State in that corner of the world.

Suffice to say, we are not. In fact, Canada’s participation in the air war against Islamic State has continued almost as though there was no change in government last fall. According to National Defence figures, Canadian military forces have conducted 334 sorties between Nov. 5—the day after the Liberals were sworn in—and Jan. 18. The majority of these, 209, were bombing missions involving CF-18 fighter aircraft, and targeting Islamic State fighting positions.

Over the last two and a half months, Canadian bombs have also destroyed Islamic State weapons caches, weapons production facilities, compounds and vehicle-borne improvised explosive Devices. On Oct. 20, the very day Trudeau informed U.S. President Barack Obama of his plans to withdraw for the anti-Islamic State campaign, Canadian jets destroyed an Islamic State staging area. About a week before Christmas, CF-18 bombers aided in withstanding what military brass termed a “fairly concentrated and well coordinated attack” on Kurdish troops and Canadian special forces in northern Iraq. This happened two weeks after Trudeau vowed to pull out of the region “within weeks.”

Arriving in office as a refusenik, Trudeau has instead been as bullish on bombing Islamic State as his predecessor. In saying one thing and doing another, Trudeau hasn’t just broken a key promise of the Liberal election platform; he has also managed to alienate the hawks and doves in both his party and in the country he governs.

He has also starved his government of the opportunity to vaunt the very real impact the anti-Islamic State coalition has had on the most hated terrorist organization on Earth. Until recently, the Iraqi cities of Sinjar, Tikrit and Ramadi were Islamic State strongholds. They are no longer. Islamic State has  lost upwards of 40 per cent of its territory over the last year, thanks in large part to coalition air support. Because of the Liberal government’s blinkered take on its own involvement, Canada is part of the coalition yet can take none of the credit for its successes.

Mulcair invoked the NDP’s history of pacifism when its caucus voted against Canada’s participation in the bombing mission in the fall of 2014. The Liberals instead reneged largely because it was advocated by Stephen Harper. Both positions may be equally cynical—the NDP and the Liberals were vying for the hearts of typically dovish Quebec voters, after all—yet the Liberal position came off as particularly crass and unprincipled. A year and a half later, as Canadian bombs continue to rain down on Syria and Iraq, it is even more so.


Why Trudeau’s crass stance on Syria is lose-lose

  1. Ah Martin, sound a fury signifying nothing. A political cynic at his finest who can’t see anything but political motivations for anything. Genuine questions about the morality of the mission? Naivety. Why are we there? We weren’t involved in the American invasion of Iraq that created ISIS. Why are we obligated to fight another American war? War profits? LAV sales to the Saudi’s? Brutality all around? Killing for influence? I don’t know and neither do you.

    [hack hack hack]. Sorry I have a bad cough.

    • Agree. The Libs appear to be trapped into military activities. It isn’t our war and, the more we bomb and destroy Muslim countries, the more refugees we create. Terrorist attacks can only escalate within our borders

    • Sounds like we have no obligation to the refugees resulting from the American war either. Good thing, given how far short the Libs have come from their ballyhooed election promise.

      Nor, I suppose, do we owe anything to the families of the 6 Canadians killed by Islamic terrorists last week who were doing the humanitarian work our emotive PM feels we should be doing instead of trying to stop the thing creating the need for it.

  2. The Liberal policy on Syria, like most of their policies, appears to have been made up in fifteen minutes during a coffee break during the campaign.

  3. If Trudeau does not renew the current bombing mission authorized by Parliament, he will have met his campaign commitment. I do believe Canada has not bombed Syria (uninvited) since Trudeau took over, as many believe that is a war crime. All of the bombing has not only killed a lot of innocent people, it’s destroyed whole cities and towns. That’s all there is bomb now.

    DND is consulting with allies and developing a better plan, making better use of Canadian forces. Until then, negative pieces like this win out.

    • What the media doesn’t report as it strives to put Trudeau in a bad light on this decision, is that you don’t have clue who your killing in these bombing missions. And, the Americans, and this is proven, don’t care.
      The media bias got so bad recently that they were allowing commentators and politicians to imply that Canada should be bombing in AFRICA.

  4. Ah, the mind of a Liberal. It’s the Americans fault. We are peacekeepers, fence-sitters. We do nothing. We stay out of everything. We hope that if we tuck our tail, the Islamic terrorists, (they are islamic) will see how nice we are, maybe they will like us, maybe they won’t hurt us, maybe they have a point. Did you ever think that being so neutral, so cowardly, so apathetic may make them think, how easy it is to take over Canada? Trudeau and his brood are heavily protected if things should go wrong. Are we? Our emasculated army is instructed to sit on the sidelines, and watch as terrorist terrorize. And the Liberal minded, neutered mass of men who call themselves Canadians will put on then quirky glasses, loafters and slither away; hoping to find a rock to hide under till someone with testicles helps them out. Maybe the Americans? Nah, not with Obama destroying the country.

  5. Let’s face it. Canada has stood on wobbly military legs for the better part of 50 years. It was even hard pressed to serve its “peacekeeping” missions abroad with either worn out or dated equipment. If Canada wants to ‘play with the Big Boys,’ it must act like a Big Boy. Today’s Canadian military is rapidly becoming little more than an army in name only. The laughing stock of NATO. The military cannot become the tool it is supposed to be when it has no equipment or political leadership to make it so. No wonder our veterans are so shabbily treated. There is simply no money for anything that smacks of militarianism. We cannot even keep our economy on firm footing; so how can we expect our military to be respected? The fact is, Canada is becoming a poor stepson in the world by hiding its head in the sand. We look good on paper and as a place to live, but the reality is, we are floundering by trying to be a free-ride state for every bleeding heart cause.

  6. Take a BOW ONTARIO and QEBUEC you got what you asked for..not to worry the drugs will come soon ,you will need them after you watch what you elected in destroy our country.

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