Militants pose a threat that must be checked: Foreign Affairs Minister
OTTAWA — Canada wants to expand its mission against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria because they pose a continuing threat that will grow if it’s not checked, Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson said Thursday.
He told a gathering of ambassadors from other members of the coalition mustered against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), that the militants have been hurt, but are still dangerous.
"ISIL is not dead yet," he said. "Clearly ISIL remains in control of a considerable amount of territory. It has the power to hurt, not merely in Iraq, but regionally and indeed elsewhere in the world."
He said Canada is in the fight because the militants have threatened the country directly.
His speech came a day after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced he will ask Parliament next week to extend and expand the mission.
In a challenge to the opposition, Nicholson said Harper will ask all political parties in the Commons to back the motion when it is presented.
"He will ask them to support our government’s operations to degrade and to destabilize this gang of thugs."
The NDP and the Liberals oppose the military mission, saying humanitarian aid is preferable.
Last fall, Parliament approved Canada’s participation in U.S.−led coalition air strikes against ISIL, but limited the involvement to Iraq and set a six−month lifespan which expires April 7.
Nicholson said the coalition is protecting people from what he called unspeakable atrocities.
"The plight of innocent civilians — women, children and religious minorities — is well known. All of us can be proud that we are acting boldly to protect them against ISIL’s brutality."