Trudeau “cannot and will not” support Harper’s Iraq war motion

by: Obert Madondo  | Published Monday, Oct 6, 2014

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. (Photo: A.K. Fung/Public Domain)

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. (Photo: A.K. Fung/Public Domain)

On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced a government motion calling on Parliament to support Canada’s imminent air strikes against the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq.

In response, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said that his party “cannot and will not support this Prime Minister’s motion.” It’s an interesting position to take for the Liberal leader.

First, if polls are to be believed, 64 percent of Canadians support Harper’s proposal to dispatch surveillance aircraft, “six fighter jets and 600 troops to support an air combat mission against ISIS” for an initial six months.

Second, the man Trudeau succeeded, Bob Rae, unreservedly supports military action. In a piece published in the Globe and Mail two days before Trudeau announced his position, Rae stated that “Canada’s role should be more than just military, and its diplomacy and its dollars need to match its rhetoric.”

Rae would be voting with the Conservatives today.

RELATED: Elizabeth May Responds To Harper’s Iraq War Motion

Here’s an unedited text of Trudeau’s response:

With this motion, the Prime Minister has finally said in Canada what he said in New York City more than a week ago. He is intent on taking Canada to war in Iraq.

ISIL is a threat both to the region and to global security.

ISIL murders ethnic and religious minorities across Iraq and Syria.

They murder innocent civilians, humanitarian workers, and journalists.

These awful acts have been fully documented – often by the perpetrators themselves.

This is why the Liberal Party supported a 30-day, non-combat role on good faith and on which we were briefed.

This time, instead of briefings, there has only been overheated rhetoric.

Liberals will take the following core principles into the debate next week.

One: That Canada does have a role to play to confront humanitarian crises and security threats in the world.

Two: That when a government considers deploying our men and women in uniform, there must be a clear mission overall and a clear role for Canada within that mission.

Three: That the case for deploying our Forces must be made openly and transparently, based on clear and reliable, dispassionately presented facts.

And four: That Canada’s role must reflect the broad scope of Canadian capabilities. And how best we can help.

Unlike the Prime Minister, Liberals believe Canada can make a more helpful contribution to the international effort to combat ISIL than aging war planes.

I think Canadians have a lot more to offer than that. We can be resourceful, and there are significant, substantial, non-combat roles that Canada can play.

And some we can play better than many – or perhaps any — of our allies.

Whether they are strategic airlift, training, or medical support.

We have the capabilities to meaningfully assist – in a non-combat role – a well-defined international mission.

The fact remains: the Prime Minister has not been upfront with Canadians about his plans.

The Prime Minister and the government have given us no reason to believe that once in combat they will be able to limit our role.

Their overheated and moralistic rhetoric is being used to justify more than just air strikes.

It is an attempt to justify a war.

For Canadians it’s all too familiar, particularly from this Prime Minister.

The 2003 Iraq war was waged on false pretenses and flawed intelligence.

It was a mission that destabilized the region, sowed further conflict, cost our allies three trillion dollars, and cost thousands of people their lives.

The world is still dealing with the consequences of that mistake.

Let us never forget how that mission was sold to the public.

Back in 2003, this Prime Minister called President Bush’s Iraq war a matter of “freedom, democracy and civilization itself.”

We know the Iraq fiasco haunts the choices we have to make today. But we cannot make the wrong decision now because the wrong decision was made then.

Canada has asked a lot of our men and women in uniform over the last decade. And too often they have returned home only to be let down.

If we are to ask more of them now, our deliberations in this house should be honest and forthright to show ourselves worthy of the valour and strength we know our Forces always show in the field.

We owe them that.

We think there is a role for Canada to be involved in the fight against ISIL.

But there is a clear line between non-combat and combat.

It is much easier to cross that line than to cross back.

It always is easier to get into a war than to get out of one.

The Prime Minister has a sacred responsibility to be honest and truthful with people, especially about matters of life and death. At the end of every decision to enter combat is a brave Canadian in harm’s way. We owe them clarity. We owe them a plan.

Most of all, we owe them the truth.

The Prime Minister has offered none of those.

The Liberal Party of Canada cannot and will not support this Prime Minister’s motion to go to war in Iraq.

In an email to Liberal supporters, Trudeau said: “Tis is only the beginning of what should become a national dialogue on the issue.”

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.
  • For ten years, the most powerful military power on earth tried to eliminate terrorism using military occupation and large-scale bombardment (as they did previously in Vietnam). The result was increased radicalization throughout the region, & the movement is now larger, better funded, and more wide-spread than ever before. This approach is a waste of time, serving only to increase our status as a target (and provide Harper with a war-record). ISIL is a dreadful movement, but it will only ever be eliminated when the conditions that created and enabled it are eliminated. Anything else is wishful thinking (or lethal cynicism), and our military deserve better than to be sacrificed for the sake of partisan political optics during an election year.

  • I will vote you in, I just think harper is wasting time when he should be fixing our counrty

  • Along with Muclair, at least there is a record of sanity.