After Paris attacks, Trudeau's stance unchanged on refugees, fighter jets
Published Saturday, November 14, 2015 7:01AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 15, 2015 9:24AM EST
Hours after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the deadly terror attacks in Paris, a senior official from the prime minister's office says that the Canadian government remains committed to re-focusing its efforts on training local troops in the anti-ISIS fight.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Turkey on Saturday for the G20 leaders' meeting, where analysts say he'll likely face pressure from allies to offer more military assistance to the U.S.-led coalition bombing mission against Islamic State militants.
The prime minister arrived at the G20 summit a day after a series shootings and bombings in Paris killed at least 129 people and injured more than 350. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks that rippled across the French capital on Friday, prompting a vow from French President Francois Hollande to retaliate mercilessly against the terror group.
Trudeau did not speak publicly after landing in Turkey, but before boarding the plane in Ottawa Friday night, he offered Canada’s support to the French in the wake of the "deeply worrying" attacks.
"Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to our French cousins in this dark and terrible time," he said.
Trudeau brushed off questions about the future of Canada’s involvement in the air mission, stating it was too early to say. However, earlier in the week, he said that decision was still weeks away.
On Saturday, a senior official from the Trudeau’s office told reporters in Turkey that the government remains committed to re-focusing Canada's role in the anti-ISIS fight on training local troops. The official, who spoke on condition that they not be named, said the Liberal government remains committed to the promises the party campaigned on.
During the federal election, Trudeau ran on a promise to pull Canada’s fighter jets from the air campaign, and last week Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance said he's already discussed withdrawing troops with the new Liberal government.
Trudeau has said Canada will still be engaged "in a responsible way" in fighting ISIS, and will continue to provide humanitarian aid.
Currently, Canada has contributed six CF-18 Hornet fighter jets, two Aurora surveillance planes and approximately 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel.
Meanwhile, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose urged Trudeau to keep Canada in the air mission.
"I am calling on the Liberal government to immediately change its position on withdrawing Canada's CF-18s and related military assistance from Iraq and Syria," she told reporters Saturday afternoon in Ottawa.
"Canada has been rightly providing both military and humanitarian aid to the region, and we believe it's important to do both."
Ambrose said Trudeau would have the full support of the Official Opposition, should he change his mind.
Refugees to Canada will be chosen in ‘responsible’ manner: official
The G20 is the first international meeting Trudeau will attend after being elected to office last month. In addition to pulling Canada’s jets from the air mission, Trudeau also pledged to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year, and to give $100 million to the UN refugee agency.
The senior official said the Paris attacks will not change the government’s refugee commitment, adding that those who are re-settled in Canada will be chosen in a "safe and responsible" manner.
Ambrose said that the Liberal goal to resettle 25,000 refugees by year's end is "compassionate," but she stressed that Canadians want to be assured it can be done in a secure manner.
"We are a very compassionate people, but Canadians are asking the question: 'Can we do it this quickly in a secure way?'" she said. "I think that's an appropriate question."
Selcuk Unal, Turkey's ambassador to Canada, recently told The Canadian Press that Turkey will push other G20 nations to take on more of the refugee "burden," as well as ask for more aid.
"We are asking every responsible member of the international community, including Canada . . . we have been asking this of everybody: more bilateral assistance," Unal said.
Turkey, which has taken more than two million asylum seekers since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, says it has spent $8 billion to handle the refugee crisis. It says it has received $471 million in bilateral assistance.
With files from The Canadian Press