A ‘no vote’ in the House of Commons on Monday has reignited the debate over Canada’s support for the Syrian government in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Article Continued BelowArticle Continued Inside the Commons as a group of opposition MPs are meeting to vote on whether to back the government’s motion to back President Bashar al-Assad in the fight against ISIL, a fight that began in 2014.
With the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and its military backing the rebels, the U.S. and the European Union are urging Canada to abandon its support.
“This is a no vote, and I am not going to vote to give the government a blank check,” said Liberal MP Michael Chong, who is also a member of the foreign affairs committee.
Chong said it was not up to him whether Canada should or should not send arms to Syria.
“It is up to the government to make a decision.
I will support Canada’s position, but at the same time I will ask that the government consider the humanitarian consequences of any potential military support to the Syrian opposition.”
Chong told the House that Canada would not be in a position to change its position, and would take its role as a global ally seriously.
But Liberal MP Scott Brison, who chairs the committee, said it is up the government, not the opposition, to decide how to proceed.
“I think this is a very, very dangerous situation and a very dangerous time in which to be taking a no-vote,” Brison said.
Chung, the MP for Oakville-Agincourt, said the Liberals support Assad.
“They’re not averse to support for Assad,” he said.
“We know that Canada has given significant assistance to the opposition,” Chong said.
“We’re not just talking about weapons, we’re talking about training, we’ve also given humanitarian assistance to our partners in the region.”
Conservative MP and Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent called on the government Monday to explain the government will not give the Syrian regime any more weapons.
“Why are they not giving them weapons?”
“If they’re not giving arms, what are they giving?”
Kent said the government should explain to the House why the Liberals are not providing any more arms to the rebels.
“If the prime minister is unwilling to say this is not a matter for the opposition and he is not willing to tell the truth, then we must be prepared to take the issue to the Conservative caucus to get an answer,” Kent said.
The Conservative MP also questioned why Canada would send arms if it has not sent arms to other countries that have been involved in the Syrian conflict.
“Can you imagine sending weapons to Iran or Saudi Arabia or Israel?”
Kent said, asking if Canada would consider arming a country that has bombed and killed civilians.
The Conservative government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.