NATO must respond to ISIS
This isn’t the column that I wanted to write this week. But, when the House of Commons resumes activity in early December, we will have to confront the reality of an increasing global threat. We need to talk about it.
The attacks on Paris last week, attacks that killed over 100 people, do not mark the end of a conflict. They are part of an ongoing escalation of violence by an organization commonly called ISIS. ISIS combines evil intent with organizational and technological sophistication. We should not give in to fear, but we also should not give in to idle optimism. This group will not be stopped by wishing them away.
I believe strongly that this group must be stopped. They will not stop unless we stop them. Actually stopping them will need to involve actual fire-power.
Though some political leaders have previously opposed our involvement in the fight against ISIS, they can now credibly say that the attacks on Paris have changed the situation. Canada and France are both signatories to the NATO treaty — Article 5 of which makes clear that an attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all. We have a moral, but also a legal obligation to be part of the response.
At a time when Russia is already testing the resolve of our NATO alliance, it is essential, for global and for our own security, that NATO stand together and respond together to an act of war against a member state. A strong united response from NATO will show our resolve, will deter aggressive behaviour from other actors, and will keep our people safe. A non-response will do the opposite.
A peace-loving nation like ours does not have the luxury of participating in armed conflicts at the times or in the places of our choosing. Aggressive nations launch wars when they want to. Peace-loving nations respond when they have to.
Our opposition caucus and I will be calling on the government to renew Canada’s commitment to the fight against ISIS. And we expect that decisions about changing our mission will come to the House of Commons for transparent discussion and debate.
Finally, I have received questions about how these attacks will affect the government’s plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year. Canada must be involved in helping refugees. However, these decisions should be driven by humanitarian needs and our security interests, not by artificial political timelines. We need to make sure that proper security screening happens before refugees are admitted. Especially in the current environment, it is hard to imagine that effective security screening on 25,000 people can happen in less than six weeks.
Many mistakes of government can be reversed. However, allowing collective or internal security commitments to decline is the sort of mistake that a nation cannot easily unmake. So please, take this opportunity now to make sure that I and that the government hear your views on these vital issues.
Published: Thursday, November 19, 2015