Fielding questions Wednesday from Conservative Jason Kenney, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion wanly insisted his government lacked the evidence to say the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is guilty of genocide. Thursday the minister flipflopped, in the face of a new UN report providing conclusive evidence thereof. The opposition, no surprise, renewed its call for Canada to re-join the U.S.-led bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria – a demand Dion rejected. How long this new line will hold remains to be seen.
Here are five ways the government has bungled this file. Tactically: Since their victory last Oct. 19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberals have struggled to justify their decision to pull Canadian CF-18 fighter jets out of the allied air campaign against ISIL. Facile sloganeering that “bombing can’t bring peace” is wilfully ignorant of the military reality, that targeted airstrikes against ISIL positions are in support of Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga ground troops.
Since becoming foreign minister, Dion has justified selling troop carriers to serial human-rights abuser Saudi Arabia; rejected a freeze on assets of Russian humanrights violators; stood by meekly while China’s foreign minister berated a Canadian reporter for doing her job; and now this.
Strategically: Even saddled with a leader who had worn out his welcome, the Conservatives captured nearly 30 per cent of the popular vote last year. The party’s total vote tally, more than 5.5 million, was only slightly below what it garnered in 2011. Strong Tory voter retention, it stands to reason, was connected to is major policy planks – specifically on the economy and security.
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