M.P. Stubbs Urges Liberal Government to Keep CF-18s in Fight Against ISIL

Ottawa - Last week, Shannon Stubbs, Member of Parliament for Lakeland and Official Opposition Deputy Critic for Natural Resources, challenged the Liberals on their proposed ISIL mission, which includes the withdrawal of Canada’s fighter jets from the air combat operation without explanation.

“As Canadians express their strong appreciation to the thousands of men and women who continue to put their lives on the line to fight for freedom and human rights, the Liberal government's approach is incoherent,” said M.P. Stubbs. “It seems to lack not only the proper consideration and evidence required for military decisions, but is devoid of common sense.”

In response to M.P. Stubbs’ speech, Karen McCrimmon, the Member of Parliament for Kanata-Carleton and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, implied the "600 troops and eight planes" the previous government committed to Operation Impact were "tokens".

“Ms. McCrimmon and the Liberal government are completely out-of-touch with the values and concerns of most Canadians,” said M.P. Stubbs. “The Conservative Party believes Canada must do everything we can in support of our allies in the combat mission and training local forces against ISIL, which is exterminating and terrorizing several thousands of people who are ethnic and religious minorities, internationally, and who threaten Canada and Canadians directly.  Our party’s track record in government was multi-pronged: engaging fully in the combat mission with our allies against ISIL, providing humanitarian aid, and assisting innocent and vulnerable refugees to come to Canada, while protecting Canada’s safety and security.  I certainly do not believe that the brave and self-sacrificing efforts of the members and families of the Canadian Armed Forces are a token. Canada’s combat mission made a difference.”

The previous government undertook all of these important measures. However, keeping Canada’s CF-18s in the combat mission is imperative to protect and support Canada’s men and women on the ground, and to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. Without the necessary and effective air support, Canada’s men and women will be in even greater danger, and humanitarian aid will be dropped on dead bodies.

The successes of Canada’s contributions to the fight against ISIL are significant, and hardly tokens, including six CF-18s, an aerial refueller, two surveillance planes, 600 personnel involved in the air war, and 69 special forces training Kurdish fighters. In addition, our CAF team boasts 1378 CF-18 sorties, 783 support aircraft flights, 251 air strikes, and 399 ISIL targets destroyed.

The Government of Canada is also a world-leading donor in response to the Syrian crisis, having provided over $969 million in humanitarian assistance and funding for development projects and security and stability initiatives since the beginning of the crisis. Under the previous Conservative government, 3,089 Syrian refugees arrived in Canada between 1 January 2014 and 3 November 2015, with an additional target of 10,000 over a measured period of four years, prioritizing screening, verification, and security.

“While our allies are voting to expand their combat efforts to fight the real, tangible threat that ISIL presents to the world, Canada is stepping back. Our international partners have asked us to stay in the air combat mission, and victims of terrorism have asked us to stay,” M.P. Stubbs said. “The Conservative Party has asked the government to maintain our air combat contribution. These pleas are falling on deaf ears. While the government has already pulled our CF-18s out of this mission before a vote in the House of Commons, I strongly urge the Liberals to re-evaluate, and prioritize the safety and security of the people they are putting on the ground, and of all Canadians.”

Members of Parliament will vote on the Liberals’ new ISIL plan on Tuesday, March 8.  Before the debate in the House of Commons was concluded, Canadians learned the CF-18 engagement had already been ended. That approach is in stark contrast to the previous Conservative government, which held a debate and vote prior to the initiation and every expansion of the military effort against ISIL.