Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason discusses the reasons behind Canada not being invited to the anti-ISIS coalition meeting in Paris on 20 January.
An anti-ISIS coalition meeting took place in Paris on 20 January. Defence ministers from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Australia, and the Netherlands joined U.S. Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter to discuss the future of the fight against ISIS. Canada has not been invited to the meeting.
Some claim that Canada has been snubbed because of incoherent messaging from the Liberal government. As reported on CBC, conservative defence critic James Bezan said this is an indication that Canada has not been a reliable partner: “[If] we were serious about taking the fight to ISIS […] we should be at these meetings.”
For Peggy Mason, this is not surprising at all. Speaking on the Ed Hand Show on 1310 News on 19 January, she argues that Canada’s absence at the meeting suggests that the United States believes Trudeau’s government will follow through on its commitment to end airstrikes in the region shortly.
If you look at the composition of [the meeting], it looks like it involves those countries that are engaged directly in airstrikes, or, in the case of Germany, providing support through refueling the airstrikes. […] I think this is a reflection of the fact that the Canadian government is going to carry through, sooner rather than later, with pulling us out of the airstrike part of the coalition.
Whilst some suggest that, in the wake of the Paris attacks, the Liberal government should reconsider its election promise to end the airstrikes, Mason argues that this is symptomatic of the “do-something” approach that often emerges after a dramatic incident, when focus shifts to an immediate, very visible reaction rather than the long, hard slog of diplomacy. Rather than focusing on an imaginary snub to Canada, we should be asking how Canada can effectively contribute to the UN-led peace process aimed at ending the civil war in Syria.
Peggy Mason on the Eric Drozd Show on 570 News, on 20 January:
The problem with bombing is that if you kill civilians you are breeding more terrorists. […] I would very much like Canada to not be distracted by a very problematic bombing campaign […] and focus its attention on how it can play an effective role. […] That leaves things like governance – I would like to have our government looking at what we can do on the ground in order to create a situation where the people that have the most to lose, the Iraqi people, […] believe enough in their government that they want to fight against the Islamic State.
Support for bombing is by no means shared by all Canadians. Since January 14, 2016, the Rideau Institute has received almost 2500 letters from Canadians all over the country calling on the Prime Minister to end the bombing, as he repeatedly promised to do during his election campaign.
Canada will have an opportunity to put forward its views at a much more important meeting when all of the coalition members from NATO countries meet on February 11th on the margins of a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers.
Image credit: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen