In a vote that was in many ways a forgone conclusion, the House of Commons voted 142 to 129 on Monday night to extend Canada’s mission against the Islamic State.
When he introduced the motion to extend the mission last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House that Canada does not need to choose between fighting ISIS and helping its victims, that the country can do both but that fighting ISIS must be part of the equation.
“Canadians did not invent the threat of jihadi terrorism and we certainly did not invite it, nor as this global threat becomes ever more serious can we protect ourselves, our communities by choosing to ignore it,” Harper said.
The motion to extend the current mission was supported by the Conservatives and opposed by the NDDP, Liberals, Bloc Quebecois and Greens.
Prior to the vote, the House voted on several NDP amendments to the motion that if passed would have called on Canada to end all military activity and expand Canada’s already extensive humanitarian efforts in the region. The Liberals joined the Conservatives in voting the amendments down.
Both of the major opposition parties have said they do not support the mission, questioning its legality under international law and raising concerns that Canada’s bombing of ISIS positions in Syria could help that country’s embattled rule Bashar a-Assad.
“Don’t forget, we’re helping a bloody dictator,” Mulcair said when asked why he opposed the mission.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said he was also concerned about the legality of bombing in Syria but said his main concern was the unintended consequence of Canadian bombs helping Assad.
That’s a view the Harper government has rejected, defence minister Jason Kenney saying denied that Canada was taking Assad’s side.
“We should not allow our opposition to the Assad regime to give this genocidal terrorist organization a safe haven in parts of the country that Bashar al-Assad either refuses to or cannot control,” Kenney said.
Kenney said Canada is not taking sides in the Syrian civil war, other than the side of the vulnerable minority communities that have been targeted by ISIS.