CTV News | Top Stories - Breaking News - Top News Headlines
Trudeau commits to more military trainers in fight against ISIS
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will increase the number of ground troops training local forces fighting ISIS in Iraq, but he will not go back on an election promise to pull Canada’s CF-18s out of the U.S.-led coalition, even as other nations ramp up their bombing campaigns.
From a plane headed to the Philippines, Trudeau told reporters that Canada is “certainly committed to doing more in the way of training,” and that the details are “something the defence minister is leaning into right now.”
“How many that will be, what form that will take, what kind of engagement we’re going to have, those are things we’re going to work out,” said the prime minister. “But I have reassured my allies and Canadians that yes, we will be doing more.”
There are currently about 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, including 69 Special Forces trainers, involved in the coalition efforts. Canada has six CF-18s and two Aurora surveillance planes currently stationed in the region. The CF-18s have been successfully striking ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, including three near Ramadi, Iraq on Tuesday.
Trudeau would not say how many trainers would be added or how soon he will pull the bombers from the mission.
The vast majority of bombing raids so far have been conducted by the U.S., but France and Russia have intensified their bombing in the wake of the bombing of a Russian jetliner that killed 224 over Egypt last month and the attacks on Paris that killed at least 129 on Friday.
France’s defence minister said Tuesday that her country had deployed 36 fighter jets to the region.
French Ambassador Nicolas Chapuis told CTV Power Play Tuesday that he does not expect friction between Canada and France over Trudeau’s decision to hold firm on his promise to pull out of the bombing efforts.
“We saw the incredible support magnificent support, from Canadians of all walks of life have given of us over the last three days,” Chapuis said. “And we respect democracy, and when the government is elected on a platform then it is totally normal that it executes its promises.”
Chapuis also said France has “had strong indication that even if Canada withdraws its six jets it will bring on board means of co-operation which will be very useful to us.”
He added that “airstrikes have never, ever, anywhere won a war.”
Ian Bradbury, a former Canadian Forces non-commissioned officer, told CTV News Channel that he believes Canada should be participating in training, humanitarian aid and airstrikes.
Bradbury, who runs the non-profit First New Allied Expeditionary Force, said that Canada’s special operations forces “could do a very effective job at training,” but that, “their skills would be far better used and … far more productive in securing the region.”
Bradbury said Canada has “a commitment to our NATO allies and we also have a moral and ethical commitment to those on the ground suffering.”
He added that “leaders of other countries” may see Canada differently after pulling out.
Trudeau made his comments from a Canadian Forces airliner several hours before it touched down in Manila, where he will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit.
Trudeau will sit down one-on-one with U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, where the leaders will discuss the military mission against ISIS, the refugee crisis and the fight against climate change.
The prime minister took about a dozen questions from reporters on the plane – something that hasn’t happened since 2006.
Trudeau said he is looking forward to meeting with Obama because “we're going to have a lot to agree on.”
Trudeau said he and Obama plan to jointly "push strongly on some of the more recalcitrant countries who don't seem to be as ambitious in their approaches to climate change."
Trudeau also described his experience at the G20's climate change discussions.
"I said, 'Look, Canada is a country with energy resources and seasons and a climate that means that we have challenges where it would be easy for us to make excuses around not doing the kinds of things on climate change that we need to do,’" he said.
Asked whether he was offended by Obama's characterization that Alberta has "dirty oil," Trudeau suggested such remarks were a result of Canada's inaction on the environment.
Trudeau did not say whether his government would raise the previous Conservative government's greenhouse gas emissions reduction target ahead of the Paris climate summit in December.
He also held firm to his commitment to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year.
"It didn't take the tragedies of Paris for us to suddenly realize that security is important," he said.
Trudeau called his G20 meeting an "excellent first experience at my first summit” and said he was “asked a fair bit of advice of leaders and they volunteered some as well.”
"So many of the issues Canadians are facing, around the economy, around trade, around security, around growth have implications that stretch far beyond our borders."
With a report from CTV Ottawa Deputy Bureau Chief Laurie Graham and files from The Canadian Press