The Syria question

Over recent months, the world has watched as tragedy unfolds in Syria. In the past few weeks, the conflict has intensified as Aleppo – a major Syrian city – was re-captured by the Assad regime, aided by Russia, Syria’s close ally.

 This crisis was preventable and a failure of the international community. Even worse, the catastrophic battle has deepened prospects of further violence and civilian suffering. Amidst this tragedy, Canada must show better leadership. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government are looking to the United Nations (UN) for direction – an organization that has already proven to be ineffective in Syria and rife with its own conflicting agendas.

 While Canada’s Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister claims to be working on a resolution in the UN, the government has avoided making statements that assign any responsibility of the horror in Aleppo to Iran or Russia, who ignored the civilized world and brutally supported the rescue of the Assad regime.

 We in the Official Opposition have called on the Liberal government to aggressively investigate reports of atrocities committed against civilians during the battle of Aleppo. Any evidence of war crimes or crimes against humanity should be pursued through the International Criminal Court.

 The world cannot remain idle as innocent civilians continue to suffer. While Canada is not a strong enough military power to act unilaterally in international conflicts, we are an influential partner around the NATO table. We must use that influence to push NATO to intervene in Syria by insisting on a no-fly zone and providing humanitarian aid to the thousands of displaced internal refugees in Syria.

 The NATO alliance cannot let the aggressors repeat the tragedy of Aleppo elsewhere in Syria or in other jurisdictions. Letting Aleppo unfold as it has increases that likelihood and Canada must stand ready to do more than express concern in its efforts to prevent further human devastation.

 Some public figures have suggested that Canada should send peacekeepers to Syria. Anyone who suggests this course of action in the Middle East clearly has not learned the mistakes of the past. Canadian peacekeepers would immediately become the target of the various and shifting sides in this conflict. Any major deployment of Western ground forces in the Middle East would be a big mistake, where there is clearly no peace to keep.

The time is now for Western allies to find a solution to stop the killing of civilians in Syria. That solution should start with Canadian leadership through NATO.


Michael Chong, MP, Wellington-Halton Hills