Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Minefields in the War in Iraq

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Minefields in the War in Iraq

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Minefields in the war in Iraq

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Jan. 5:

The future of the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will be one of the first foreign-policy issues facing Parliament when it returns at the end of the month.

Barring any unforeseen catastrophe, the Harper government will almost certainly recommend renewing Canada's modest six-month commitment, which expires in April. The military is already preparing to rotate troops in and out of the theatre.

About 600 military personnel and nine aircraft are currently deployed in the Mideast conflict, including six CF-18s, two Aurora search planes, a refuelling jet and a small group of trainers.

The decision will be an easy and obvious one for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair can be expected to toe the usual line that Canada should be doing more on the humanitarian front, which he believes is the only effective way to deliver meaningful assistance to the region.

For Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, however, the issue could be a minefield and another test of his abilities.

When the question of deploying troops against the Islamic State first came up last fall, Mr. Trudeau stumbled badly. He not only opposed it outright, he talked in vague terms about understanding "the root causes" of terrorism.

It was an immature political performance that played perfectly into Mr. Harper's portrayal of Mr. Trudeau as a leader-in-training. With a general election expected in the fall, however, Mr. Trudeau cannot afford too many more missteps, particularly since the Tory campaign is likely to turn on the question of whom Canadians trust to manage the country on critical issues far and near.

The murder of two soldiers last fall -- one in Quebec and the other in Ottawa -- has also boosted support for the military due to concerns that the Islamic State, a genocidal group that kills indiscriminately and enslaves women in the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria, may be making inroads on domestic soil. …

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