As expected, the leaders of Canada’s three main political parties spoke at length about Russia and Syria at Monday’s foreign policy debate, but several other countries also found their way into the discussion. Here are 10 of the countries mentioned.


The leaders were asked about Russia’s recent aggression toward Ukraine under President Vladimir Putin.

“I have met with Mr. Putin many times and everybody knows, of course, when it came to Ukraine I made it very clear to Mr. Putin that Canada, this country, is never going to tolerate or accept under any circumstances his occupation of Ukrainian territory,” Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau called Putin a “destabilizing force in the world,” and added that “Canada has such a diminished voice … that Vladimir Putin didn’t listen.”

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said the NDP “stands foursquare with the people of Ukraine against this Russian invasion” before turning on Trudeau. “You can’t even stand up to Stephen Harper on C-51,” Mulcair said, referring to the Anti-Terrorism Act the Liberals supported in Parliament. “How are you going to stand up to Putin?”


Both Trudeau and Mulcair used the Irish potato famine of the 1840s and 1850s as an example of how Canada should respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.

“One area where Canada is completely failing … is in dealing with the refugee crisis,” Mulcair said. “My own family, the Irish side at least, came over during the potato famines of the 1840s and, you know what? In Quebec City, people went down to the docks and … took in the most miserable in the world. That’s Canada.”

Trudeau made a similar statement. “Thirty-eight thousand Irish men, women and children fleeing the famine arrived on the shores of Toronto. There were 20,000 citizens in Toronto at that time and they accepted 38,000 refugees … Canada has always done more.”

Harper said he had visited refugee camps in Iraq and Jordan and that, “we cannot pretend there are no security risks.” He said Canada’s decision to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees and provide hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid is a “generous response,” adding, “it’s not based on the headlines; it’s based on the right things to do.”


Although he wasn’t directly asked about the country, Harper said that “when it comes to the Middle East, we are not going to single out Israel,” which he added is the only western, democratic country in the region. “We recognize unequivocally the right of Israel to defend itself,” he said.

Trudeau accused Harper of making support for Israel “a domestic political football,” adding that “all three of us support Israel, and any Canadian government will.”


Mulcair was asked when he would consider use military force, and he gave the 2011 Libyan bombing campaign as an example of when his party had supported it in the past.

“When it was a question of going into Libya under the United Nations duty to protect, the NDP voted for those airstrikes because it was a UN mission,” he said. “When that morphed into something completely different, we withdrew our support.”


Mulcair was asked about his plan to vastly increase Canada’s foreign aid spending to 0.7 per cent of GDP.

“(British Prime Minister) David Cameron’s Conservative government has brought that country up to 0.7 per cent,” said the NDP leader. “Canadians understand that it’s only by investing that we can help democracy, that we can help alleviate poverty, but importantly as well, help build Canada’s standing in the world.”

Harper, meanwhile, touted Canada’s maternal, newborn and child health initiative, which he said was “dramatically” reducing child and maternal mortality in the developing world with “often minimal investment.”

“It is in our broader interest that we help people around the world when we can and when we know that aid will actually be used responsibly and effectively,” Harper added.


Harper was asked what the failure to get Keystone XL pipeline built has taught him about Canada-U.S. relations. (The project would bring crude oil and bitumen to the U.S. for refining, and requires approval by the U.S. president.)

“Barack Obama said to me, there’s nothing he’s asking Canada to do. He’s going to make that decision based on his own assessment of American interests,” Harper said.

“This government has worked with two radically different administrations in the United States and we have worked productively with both,” Harper added, giving examples like the coalition fight against ISIS and border issues.

Trudeau said that Harper had gone to New York and “criticized and harangued the president.”

“Canadians are sitting around worried about their jobs because we have a prime minister that doesn’t like Barack Obama,” the Liberal Leader added. “We need to do much better than that.”

Harper shot back that Canada has a great relationship with the U.S.

“I ask you to look at the alternative,” Harper added. “Imagine first day of office. We would have a prime minister who would say to the United States, ‘We are pulling out of the joint military mission against the Islamic State and why? Because you, Mr. Obama, are continuing the policies of George W. Bush.’”

“Seriously,” added Harper. “If you really want to poison the relationship, that would be the way to do it.”

Mulcair used the opportunity to remind those watching that he opposes Keystone XL, unlike Harper and Trudeau.

“What’s the Canadian value in exporting 40,000 jobs to the U.S.?” he said, referring to the number of jobs that would be created in the U.S. by the project.

“We’ve got to start adding value to our resources in Canada,” Mulcair added.