Tuesday January 26, 2016

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan faces heat over Canada's anti-ISIS strategy

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada is ending airstrikes against ISIS to focus on training.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada is ending airstrikes against ISIS to focus on training. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Listen 23:35

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was criticized last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland by some commentators for struggling to provide a clear answer when it comes to Canada's commitment to the anti-ISIS bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria.

"We have committed to end the airstrikes portion of our military involvement in exchange for another way of military involvement, probably around training and... such things that can help local troops bring the battle directly towards terrorists." - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responding to CNN's Fareed Zakaria questioning of Canada's anti-ISIS bombing campaign 

It's words such as "probably" that have many wondering if the prime minister has a concrete plan for Canada's anti-ISIS mission. He campaigned on ending Canadian airstrikes, saying the military would instead focus on training Kurdish rebels. 

But in the wake of the ISIS attacks in Paris in November, that decision is facing renewed resistance here at home. And in the province of Quebec— where the bodies of six Canadians slain in a jihadist attack in Burkina Faso are expected to be returned this week — the issue is especially raw.

Canada's Defence Minister, Harjit Sajjan joined Anna Maria from Ottawa to explain the government's anti-ISIS plan. 

"Over the past ten years, Canada developed a tremendous level of expertise in training, in intelligence on the ground, in Afghanistan for example— and we definitely have much to contribute on the helping local miltias and local troops be more effective in the direct fight." - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responding to CNN's Fareed Zakaria questioning of Canada's anti-ISIS bombing campaign 

PM's pledge to end airstrikes could be first big misstep

Could this issue and its lack of clarity signal the end of Prime Minister Trudeau's honeymoon period with Canadians? The Current's panel of pundits have their opinions to share on the logistics and strategy moving forward in the fight against ISIS.

Guests include:

Do you agree with the Liberals' move to pull Canada's fighter jets from the fight against the Islamic State?

Tweet us @TheCurrentCBC. Post on our Facebook page. Or email us your thoughts.  

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino, Shannon Higgins and Marino Greco.