Trudeau's Syrian Inconsistency 

February 14th, 2016 | M. Menuck 

Any day now, if what we hear in the news is to be believed, the new Liberal government of Justin Trudeau will be unveiling this country’s new policy on the war against ISIS. I say war because that is what the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has declared against us, and I happen to be one of those old fashioned blokes who believes you should call things as they are. While the particulars are still unknown, the usual unnamed “sources close to the government” have given the country a relatively clear picture of the generalities. More Canadian commandos will join those already in Iraq to assist with training and advising of the Kurdish Pershmega and Iraqi security forces, our existing reconnaissance and refueling aircraft will remain, and our combat jets will be brought home.


To say this is disappointing would be alike to calling Hurricane Katrina a spot of bad weather. Despite overwhelming support for the extension of Canada’s combat contribution by the general public, our allies internationally, and the media establishment (with even the Toronto Star, Trudeau’s biggest cheerleaders, ever so mildly suggesting a change of position on this issue by dearest Justin would be in order), it would seem that in March our part in the fight against Islamic State will be coming to an end. Now, in the name of fairness, it should be conceded that Justin is correct that the removal of the half dozen or so combat aircraft that Canada had previously committed will not lead to the collapse of the entire war effort. And yes, it is also true that direct military action is only one part of a multifaceted strategy against ISIS that also includes diplomacy, humanitarian aid, and the training of local ground forces, and that Canada can and should do more in these other areas.


What Justin has failed to do is to make the case, any case, that Canada cannot both give humanitarian relief to those in desperate need of it and contribute militarily to the battle against ISIS. Instead he has stubbornly refused to even address the question, like a child willfully insisting that things can either be one way or the other and blind to the possibility there might be other options. He seems to be determined to hold to his pledge to end our bombing campaign, made somewhat hastily in the pre-election jockeying for position out of a desire to create contrast with then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for no other reason than it was a pledge he made; as if such a thing is a legally binding blood oath before the gods that cannot be changed under any circumstances.


Those who argue that the recent terror attacks in Paris have changed everything are incorrect. In truth, Paris changed nothing. Even before ISIS-trained militants filled the streets of the city of lights with the sound of AK-47 rifle fire and war cries of “Allah Akbar”, there was ample enough proof of the need to eradicate the Islamic State from the surface of this earth. Look no further than the beheadings and crucifixions, the throwing of gay men off buildings, and the mass graves of elderly women killed for convenience when they were deemed too old to be sold into sexual slavery.  Through their actions, the followers of ISIS have taken themselves out of the human race, and as a part of humanity Canada has a moral obligation to contribute towards ending this scourge.

Justin’s own father, the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, knew as much. When confronted by violence and terrorism from the FLQ, he did not respond by inviting the perpetrators over for tea to have a chat but with forceful conviction, and he told bleeding hearts to “go ahead and bleed”. There are monsters in this universe, and they must be fought. We have always been a nation willing to do our part when it was needed. We have never been a people who crossed over to the other ride of the road and looked the other way in times of crisis and terror. Should Justin do so now, it will be to our shame as a nation and as a people, not only for those living now but those who came before and those yet to be born.