Is Canada on the precipice of war?

Prime Minister holding rare emergency debate to decide Canada's next steps in fast-growing military conflict in the Middle East

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Prime Minister Stephen Harepe
Operation Impact - Department of Defence photo - September 2014
Operation Impact - Department of Defence photo - September 2014
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Prime Minister Stephen Harper - PMO photo

The Prime Minister is holding a rare emergency debate Tuesday evening to decide Canada's next steps into what could be an international war in the Middle East.

Canadians were recently shocked by the news that some 130 Canadian citizens -- many from Calgary -- have been drawn into an extremist Islamic military movement, called ISIS, according to a new federal report on terrorist threats to Canada.

The movement -- also known as ISIL -- has some 80,000 members in Syria and northern Iraq who are seizing control of the region, in pursuit of establishing an Islamic caliphate—or state.

The fear is, Canadian ISIL militants could become radicalized and return to this nation, Parliament was told Tuesday.

“Our fight is your fight also,” a high-ranking Kurdish official told the Canadian Press during Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s visit to Iraq last week. 

ISIS map - wikicommons
Map showing in red the areas now under the influence of ISIS  - BBC image licence on WikiCommons
ISIS is the same militant organization known for beheading two American journalists and a British human-aid worker.

Kurds now want weapons from Canada and its western allies in what is expected to be a long fight. 

“We are fighting a terrorist state that has roots in various countries…many ISIL fighters come from abroad, including Canada,” said the official. 

The requests for assistance come just months after a war-weary Canada formally ended its 12-year engagement in Afghanistan, which killed more than 150 Canadian soldiers.

The federal government is debating how many troops to send to the Middle East.

In Parliament, the prime minister proposed to send 69 troops to Iraq.   

The NDP called that a "slippery slope" toward another another Afghanistan-style engagement.

"A small number of special forces, a promise that it was just for a short while and it wound up being the longest war we’ve ever been involved in and it cost lives, 160 brave Canadian women and men in uniform," said Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair.

"So yes, we’re very very concerned about the slippery slope that we appear to be on."

Canada's role in Afghanistan eventually involved many thousands of Canadian soldiers.

Following Tuesday’s question period, Minister Baird said the Canadian government is joining the civilized world to combat the monstrous groups who are trying to take over large areas of the world.

“Their goal is to take over from southern Spain to India and obviously we can’t sit by and allow that type of evil to succeed. We think it is imperative that we stand with the civilized world to try and combat and defeat this evil,” said Minister Baird. 

In respect to Canadians' safety—Minister Baird said cowering in a bunker in Ottawa isn’t an option for Canada. 

Canadians will learn about their country's involvement in the ISIL crisis after Tuesday night’s emergency debate, which the NDP said will be followed by a parliamentary vote.

Canadian "Operation IMPACT" aircraft delivering small-arms ammunition to Iraq to

Canadian "Operation IMPACT" aircraft delivering small-arms ammunition to Iraq to assist the Iraqi security forces on Monday - Department of Defence photo
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