Canada's ISIS fight stance understood by U.S. senators at Halifax meeting

U.S. senators attending the Halifax International Security Forum say they've learned more about why the Liberal government is sticking by its vow to pull Canada's warplanes in Iraq and Syria, and will "figure out a way" to work together to fight ISIS.

'We will be able to figure out a way to make this work together,' senator says about united fight against ISIS

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says airstrikes by Canadian jets on ISIS targets will soon end. Senators from the U.S. say their government will 'figure out a way' with Canada to continue the anti-ISIS mission. (CBC)

U.S. senators attending a global security meeting in Halifax say they should be able to work out a strategy with Canada as the new Liberal government moves forward with plans to halt aerial bombing of ISIS in the Mideast.

Following meetings Saturday, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine told reporters he understands why the Liberals are standing by their decision to stop the airstrikes, given it was a promise during Canada's recent federal election. 

"We understand: You make a pledge, you make a promise, you live through it. But what we were able to do this morning was say, 'OK, walk us through what are people thinking about these issues, why is this the party's position, explain it to us,'" he said.

Several U.S. senators met with Canada's new defence minister, Harjit Sajjan, on Saturday at the Halifax International Security Forum, providing one of the first opportunities for the two governments to compare and discuss policies. 

The annual conference usually covers a broad range of international conflicts. This year, with nearly 300 delegates from at least 60 countries discussing global security issues, the topics are focused on the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Syrian refugee crisis.

Kaine said ongoing communication between the two countries will be important. 

"With the idea of North American security, the more we're letting you know, the way we're looking at this, the more the new government is sharing with us the approach here, we will be able to figure out a way to make this work together," Kaine said. 

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, attending the Halifax security forum this weekend, says ongoing communication between the U.S. and Canadian governments will be important in the fight against ISIS. (CBC)

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy said he's happy to hear Canada is committed to fighting ISIS.

"What we've heard here this week is a resolute commitment by the Canadian government, the new Canadian government, to continue as a partner with the United States and the multilateral coalition" to fight ISIS, he said. 

'We don't work alone'

Sajjan, speaking to media on Friday, said airstrikes by Canadian jets will soon end, and an expanded training mission will begin.

"We don't fight alone, we don't work alone. And we work as part of a coalition. And when we understand the problem set, each nation has different skillsets to bring to the table. And we will be offering up our skillset," he said.

Over half of state governors have spoken out against accepting refugees, as have some Republican presidential candidates.

The House of Representatives passed a bill this week to suspend U.S. President Barack Obama's program to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees next year and then intensify security screenings for those entering.   

But Sajjan said taking in refugees actually helps the fight against ISIS.  

"By doing our part, for this, we are actually hitting ISIS in a different way, which we know from our experience in Afghanistan." 

The security forum concludes Sunday.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.