Tom Mulcair calls possible ISIS fight expansion to Libya, Syria 'disquieting'

Opposition leader Tom Mulcair tells CBC he's against expanding Canada's ISIS fight beyond Iraq to Syria and Libya in response to remarks by Defence Minister Jason Kenney indicating the government is examining "all of the options." Mulcair also spoke with CBC News about his concerns with the government's anti-terror legislation.

NDP leader responds to defence minister's statement: 'We're going to look at all of the options'

Tom Mulcair on Bill C-51


6 years ago
Opposition leader speaks with CBC News about his concerns with the government's anti-terror legislation 6:53

Opposition leader Tom Mulcair said it's "disquieting" to hear Defence Minister Jason Kenney state Canada would be open to expanding its ISIS mission beyond Iraq to Syria and Libya.

"[Kenney] knows the Department of Defence is against it," said Mulcair in an interview on Sunday with CBC News. "It's all from the result of the war there led by George W. Bush. This is an American-led mission."

On Saturday, Evan Solomon, host of CBC Radio's The House, asked Kenney about participating in missions in Syria and Libya. Kenney indicated the government is not ruling out taking Canada's military mission against ISIS beyond Iraq. 

"Well, we're going to look at all of the options," Kenney said.

Short-term vs. long-term

"Obviously there are practical limits to our ability to operate around the world, but we will look at our options to see where we can have the most impact, where we're most needed," he said. "That requires ongoing consultation with our allies. We don't just decide these things unilaterally."

Christian Leuprecht, a security expert at the Royal Military College and Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said it's not surprising Canada might explore bigger options.
Defence Minister Jason Kenney continues to send signals that Canada's mission in Iraq could be extended and that the fight against ISIS could go beyond Iraq. (Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

"Over the decades when there has been an international concensus...Canada has made a contribution [and] that's always been with a serious capacity on the ground," he told CBC News on Saturday.

While Leuprecht acknowledges a military response could be the short-term answer, he would like to see a longer-term solution to helping out Libya.

"ISIS thrives on instability in the region and a large swath of youth in the region don't see a future for themselves," he noted.  "The strategy has to be to make the countries more viable for that demographic [because] that's the demographic ISIS is after."

Fight could be renewed

"Obviously we're in Iraq at the invitation of that government in a mission of, I think, over two dozen countries being coordinated by the United States. If we can help meaningfully in the fight against ISIL elsewhere we'll give that consideration," the minister said.

This week, Kenney hinted that Canada's six-month military commitment to fight the extremist group could be renewed. He said cabinet members would be evaluating the progress of Operation Impact in the "very near future" as they make that decision.

Canadian fighter jets have been in Kuwait since October for the mission, which is scheduled to run until the start of April.

Egypt has called for international intervention in Libya against ISIS. Loyalists of the Syria- and Iraq-based group have risen in number to dominate several cities in the North African nation.

Last weekend, ISIS released a video showing the beheading 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt, on a beach in Libya. The mass slaying provoked a round of Egyptian air strikes on the group’s Libyan stronghold of Derna.


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.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?