This analysis was first published on The Rebel.Media
(In Part One, we discussed Russia-Canada relations and Arctic policies.)
On 19 October, Canadians will have a crucial choice to make, and foreign policy is a very important issue that many voters completely disregard.
This week’s Munk Debate in Toronto is yet another sign of the crucial importance of Canadian foreign policies, particularly regarding terrorism and Canada’s contribution to NATO.
For many, these two policies reflects Canada’s strength on the world stage. Although Canada has distanced itself from the United Nations (which is not up-to-date with the current global situation), Canada’s participation in the fight against terrorism and its contribution to NATO in Eastern Europe have made the country a global leader in international security.
Last year, two Canadians soldiers were killed by lone wolves who were clearly following Islamic State teachings. Canada wasn’t prepared for a terrorist attack on its own soil even though the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had issued numerous warnings.
To quickly resolve this situation, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives enacted a new law to give more power the CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). After resistance from the Liberals and the New Democrats, Bill C-51 was approved and new measures were quickly put in place to try to prevent future terrorist attacks.
The NDP’s Thomas Mulcair is clear on C-51: If he is elected, he will repeal the bill. As for the Liberals, Trudeau voted in favor of the bill, but says he will suggest many amendments. Basically, Trudeau will amend the bill until it perfectly fits with the Liberal party line.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government has declared that passports could be revoked for those individuals intending to enter territory under terrorist control. While many people were clearly against this measure, the Canadian government was right to take this step. In fact, by revoking passports, Canada could keep these radicalized individual in the country, subjecting them to further RCMP and CSIS scrutiny.
That said, Canada clearly needs a better deradicalization program. A combined effort between a national deradicalization program at home and a military presence against ISIS abroad is the ideal arrangement. The Canadian government should work closely with Muslim communities to draw up a strong dynamic and effective deradicalization plan. Deradicalization alone won’t defeat ISIS; military intervention is also required. However, it will help tremendously with homegrown terrorist issues, and perhaps reduce the likelihood that new radicalized lone wolves will emerge.
On 26 September 2015, Canada put this measure into effect, revoking the citizenship of Zakaria Amara, leader of the “Toronto 18,” who’d plotted to detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto. (For more information on the Toronto 18, I highly recommend Mubin Shaikh’s book, Undercover Jihadi.)
Meanwhile, both the Liberal Party of Canada and the NDP have voiced their concerns about the deportation of convicted terrorists, and have pledged to repeal Bill C-24.
As for the mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the NDP and the Liberals have voiced different opinions.
Mulcair would immediately end the mission in Iraq and Syria if elected. “We’ve been clear on that since day one,” Mulcair said in response to questions from a reporter. “We also know that there are things that we can and should be doing with our allies, such as stopping the flow of foreign fighters, stopping the flow of arms, stopping the flow of money to ISIS (…) We should be doing something at home, which is combatting radicalization – something that [Conservative Leader] Stephen Harper has failed to do.”
On the Liberal side, Trudeau’s policy is to halt the bombings and focus on aid and refugee support. He also believes that Canada should continue to train local forces due to the vast experience we’ve acquired in Afghanistan.
If the Conservatives win a majority on 19 October, it seems likely that additional measures will be taken against terrorism. Harper’s policy on terrorism has proved to be successful and is the best alternative for Canadians.
CANADA’S CONTRIBUTION TO NATO IN EASTERN EUROPE
Since Russia annexed Crimea, Canada has been strongly involved in NATO operations in Eastern Europe. A small group of soldiers are deployed in Poland to conduct joint training and operations with its allies as part ofOperation Reassurance.
Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft are also deployed, participating in NATO Baltic Air Policing (BAP). To this end, Canada contributed four CF-188 Hornets and its support element. The BAP contribute to maintaining the sovereignty of the Baltic countries’ airspace. Russian aircraft have been testing the borders to see how much reaction time it takes to be intercepted. With the BAP — and the fact that the three Baltic countries have virtually non-existent air forces — fighter aircraft from NATO allied countries are helping prevent Russian aircraft from lurking along their shared borders.
Last June, Canada also announced that it will contribute to the NATO Force Integration Units (NFIU) in Estonia and Lithuania. In fact, Canada will deploy five staff officers to both NIFUs, who will provide logistical and planning support to facilitate NATO troop deployment.
As for Ukraine – which is the main reason why Canadian troops are deployed in Eastern Europe — more than 150 military personnel are currently training Ukrainian troops in Western Ukraine. According to one report:
“The soldiers, from 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) — based at CFB Petawawa — will be stationed in the months ahead at the Ukrainian Armed Forces International Security and Peacekeeping Centre in Yavoriv, minutes from the border that divides Ukraine and Poland.”
Only the Conservative government has approved such a deployment. The NDP and the Liberals say they would also continue the Ukraine mission, but they would undoubtedly reduce Canada’s role to a less “active” and more “supportive” one. Basically, both the NDP and the Liberals would continue to contribute troops to NATO, but as far as I am concerned, no precise policies have yet to be unveiled.
To conclude, Harper’s Conservative are definitely the best choice for a stronger Canada on the international scene. Harper’s foreign policy is based on nine years of experience, tackling situations Libya, Afghanistan and Ukraine, along with the Ebola outbreak.