Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageOp-Ed: Harper to expand and extend Canada's fight against ISIS

By Ken Hanly     Mar 24, 2015 in Politics
Ottawa - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has presented a motion before parliament that would renew its mission as part of the coalition led by the US that is fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS).
The entire text of the motion can be found here. The original mission that involved air attacks and special forces advisers lasted six months. One Canadian soldier was killed in a friendly fire incident at a Kurdish checkpoint near the front lines during the present mission.
The mission has not just been extended for a year rather than another six months, it has also been expanded to include air strikes in Syria. When Harper first made his case for joining the coalition, he specifically noted that Canada would attack the Islamic State only where it had the clear support of the government of the area being attacked. Now he has simply ignored that proviso along with the US and some other members of the coalition. Harper said: "In expanding our air strikes into Syria, the government has now decided that we will not seek the express consent of the Syrian government." NDP defense critic Jack Harris asked why the Harper government has now decided that consent of the Syrian government is not required. The foreign minister Rob Nicholson said that it was the same basis as used by the other coalition members that the IS posed a threat to everyone. They are claiming the same type of "self-defense" argument that is used by the US. When Tom Mulcair the NDP leader asked about the legality of the operation: In response, Harper referenced a letter the U.S. government sent UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in September that set out the Americans’ rationale for strikes in Syria – but which itself was criticized as playing fast and loose with international law.
An article in Macleans magazine shows in detail the similarities between the Canadian argument and that of the US. Harper claimed that Canadian special forces would not be operating in Syria. Canada also will continue an extensive humanitarian operation to help refugees from the conflict.
Both New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau complained that the government had not been up front about the role special forces were playing. They also were concerned about the seeming lack of any exit strategy.No doubt the US urged Canada to expand its role to bomb the IS in Syria.
The New Democratic Party leader promised that if the NDP becomes the government after the next elections all Canadian troops would be withdrawn from Iraq. The Liberals did not go that far but promised to change the mission to concentrate on humanitarian help and training of Iraqi forces. Both leaders claimed that bombing of the IS in Syria could consolidate Assad's power. Canadians must go to the polls before Oct. 19 this year.
The Conservatives politics of fear appears to be working. A recent IPSOS poll shows that two thirds of Canadians are in favour of an extension of the Canadian mission with just 34 percent opposed. A majority of supporters in each of the three main parties support the extension: A majority of Conservative (86%), Liberal (67%) and NDP (56%) voters support extending the current mission against ISIS, but only 38% of Bloc voters support an extension.
The Bloc Quebecois is a Quebec-based federal separatist-leaning party. 65 percent of Canadians support the use of Canadian troops in a combat mission against the IS with only 35 percent disagreeing. However, the 35 percent opposed is actually 4 percent more than last month.
Daryl Copeland a Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute argues that Canada's participation in US-led wars such as that against the IS in Iraq and Syria undercuts whatever is left of Canada's former reputation as a peace-keeper. Canada's participation he claims was not necessary in the first place and to continue the mission and even expand it will simply increase the costs. Copeland argues that the intervention will not work as is shown by what has happened after earlier US interventions, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Blowback from these interventions is what has generated support for the Islamic State. Copeland lists five reasons in all for not intervening. Given that the intervention is politically popular and that it will allow Harper to demand more money for the military as well as fitting in with his politics of fear, no doubt five reasons not to intervene will have zero influence on Harper's great leap forward into Syria.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Islamic state, canada and ISIS, Stephen Harper
Latest News
Top News