A Difficult but Appropriate Use of Force

“Four years ago, I gave one of my first speeches as a new Member of Parliament on the crisis in Syria.  At the time of that emergency debate in the House of Commons, violence and chaos had already gripped Syria for two years.  Thousands had already been killed.  Chemical weapons had been used on innocent civilians, including children.   And, the refugee crisis in Syria and the region was already becoming serious. President Obama had already warned the Assad regime a year earlier that the use of chemical weapons was a “red line” that was not to be crossed.  What has changed in four years?  Nothing.  In fact, all elements of the crisis have only deepened.  There have been thousands more killed, chemical weapons continue to be used and the refugee crisis grew into a global migrant crisis that transformed geo-politics.

Yesterday, President Trump ordered missile strikes on the Syrian military facilities that American intelligence indicated were the origin of the barbaric chemical attacks from earlier this week.  I support this decision.  While the use of military force should always be the final option to consider, these limited and strategic strikes demonstrate that the Assad regime can no longer operate with impunity. Certainly the death, destruction and chaos of the last seven years demonstrates that multi-lateral efforts centred upon diplomacy and containment have not been successful and innocent civilians continue to pay with their lives.  The United Nations Security Council has been paralyzed by inaction on Syria due to Russian support of the Assad regime and this will not change.

As a Veteran and former Minister charged with caring for our men and women who serve our country, I never take the issue of the use of military force lightly.  I support this strategic action taken by our closest ally to send a message that such horrific attacks will not be tolerated.  In this troubled region, it has been disappointing to see Canada play a diminished role following the election of the Trudeau government.  Their first foreign policy decision was to reduce Canada’s military commitment to multi-lateral efforts against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.  This week, we learned that the Trudeau government withdrew our CF-18 jets despite pleas from other countries for Canada to maintain its commitment.  I sincerely hope that the Trudeau government no longer lets down our allies and maintains our commitment to security in the region.”

Erin O’Toole, P.C., C.D., M.P.

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