March 25, 2015
The topic of my October 8th MP report from last year was outlining the Government of Canada`s intention (subject to a vote in Parliament) to implement a six month deployment in Iraq to join many of our allies engaged in an aerial combat mission against the terrorist organization ISIL. As the initial six month timeframe is soon to expire, earlier this week in the House of Commons our Prime Minister provided a report on the evolution of the situation along with a proposal that Canada renew its commitment to the international coalition and its mission against ISIL.
The Prime Minister stated that the good news is the alarming territorial spread of ISIL has been more or less halted and in some ways even pushed back. In large part this has been achieved in coordination with allied aerial bombing efforts that Canada is part of and from other response actions from the roughly 60 other members of the United Nations who have taken a stand against ISIL terrorism.
Aside from the military action against ISIL, Canada has also had success in helping to deliver humanitarian aid that includes help feeding 1.7 million people in Iraq, providing shelter and relief supplies to 1.25 million people and providing education to at least half a million children. Canada has also helped to support more than 200,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq with food, water, shelter and protection as it is well known ISIL will capture and murder aid workers, reporters and other humanitarian workers if not securely protected.
For these reasons it is proposed that Canada renew the mission against ISIL for a further 12 months similar to the initial terms with a few notable changes. Like the original mission, this would also require a vote in Parliament. The current commitment of 6 CF-18 fighter jets, 1 Polaris air-to-air refuelling aircraft and 2 Aurora surveillance aircraft including required pilots and ground personnel to support these aircraft including ground forces already in the region is proposed to remain the same. The most notable change is the proposal to join President Obama and US Forces in also bombing ISIL terrorists in regions of Syria, something that was not proposed in the original six month mission. The reason Canada proposes to join the United States in this effort is due to the fact that ISIL has frequently retreated forces and equipment into Syria as a safe haven from allied aerial attack. The Prime Minister has also stated clearly that any action against ISIL within Syria will be done without the “the express consent of the Syrian government”. Some have asked on the legalities of aerial bombing within Syria without the consent of the Syrian Government. The United States Government, our lead ally in this mission, has presented legal grounds to the United Nations and in turn the Judge Advocate General legal analysis indicates these operations in Syria are legal and justifiable.
Much as was the situation previously both opposition parties have indicated they will continue to oppose military efforts against ISIL terrorism. I will continue to provide updates on this important matter as they become available. Also occurring this week in Ottawa has been ongoing committee review of Bill C-51 the Anti-Terrorism Act. Here the situation is different where the NDP continue to oppose the anti-terrorism bill while the Liberals have continued to vote with our Government in support of Bill C-51 as it moves through Parliament. As a reminder for further information on Bill C-51 please see my February 6th MP report. As always I welcome your comments and question on any subject before the House of Commons. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.