Candice Malcolm: Trudeau failed first foreign policy test

20170303_pg3_05.jpg

(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

So Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan misled Canadians about the details of ending our combat mission against ISIS last year.

New information released by the Department of Global Affairs, in response to an Access to Information request by the Conservatives, revealed that our allies in Iraq were disappointed with Trudeau’s decision to withdraw our CF-18 fighter jets and pleaded with Sajjan to reconsider.

The Trudeau government insisted at the time our allies had no problem with Canada pulling its six fighter jets from the combat mission, and even claimed our allies were pleased with our new role in training and advising ground troops.

But according to the new documents, shared with Anthony Furey here at the Sun, “the Iraqi minister of defence was clearly focused on Canada’s decision to withdraw its CF-18 fighter jets from the coalition air strikes, asking Minister Sajjan to reconsider on numerous occasions.”

Sajjan was touring Iraq in December 2015, meeting with both our Iraqi and Kurdish allies to discuss the mission against ISIS, and was asked by Canadian media how the withdrawal plan was going.

“The irony is, I haven’t had one discussion about the CF-18s,” said Sajjan.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan called this evidence of a “blatant lie,” while Sajjan’s spokesman, in quite the show of verbal gymnastics, insisted Sajjan was specifically referring to conversations with Kurdish leaders.

Either way, the Trudeau government was not forthright about these details.

Perhaps that’s because, as I wrote at the time, Trudeau positioned himself into a corner with his campaign trail pledge to pull our jets from the fight against ISIS.

Throughout the 2015 election campaign, Trudeau seemed to have a clear vision for ending Canada’s combat mission in Iraq and Syria.

He even joked about Harper’s motive for bombing ISIS, saying he wanted to “whip out our CF-18s to show them how big they are.”

Trudeau’s juvenile “whip it out” quip made light of an international crisis.

The bombing campaign against ISIS, led by then U.S. president Barack Obama, came in response to the grisly discovery that Islamic State terrorists were committing genocide against the Yazidis in the Sinjar region of Iraq.

Regardless, Trudeau’s commitment to pull Canada’s CF-18s became a key fixture in the Liberal platform.

After becoming prime minister, however, the clarity of this promise all but disappeared.

While Trudeau officially announced Canada’s withdrawal from Iraq and Syria, Canadian Hornets continued to drop bombs on ISIS terrorists for months.

Trudeau’s Global Affairs Minister at the time, Stephane Dion, assured Canadians the jets would return home by the end of 2015, but Sajjan contradicted that message by saying there was no specific timeline for pulling the jets.

The bombing mission eventually came to an end in February 2016, around the same time Harper’s combat mission was set to expire.

In the choice between upholding a commitment to our allies while protecting national security, and adhering to campaign rhetoric and partisan politics, Trudeau chose the latter.

He undermined Canada’s military efforts to...(READ MORE)