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What is the role of Canada after the monstrous attacks in Paris?

Updated on November 16, 2015

It has been widely reported even before the recent federal election that a new Liberal government would bring our air planes back from the war on Isis and resume a more humanitarian role in the Middle East.

This goes back to the Pearson years and his vision of Canada being peace keepers rather than combatants in world conflicts. This is in keeping with our multiculturalism and our desire as a nation to lead the world in that regard, by example. Up until the Harper years we did exactly that, and a combat role is not something Canadians are comfortable with under most circumstances.

As a fighting force Canada is second to none. We proved that in the last two world wars and in Afghanistan among others. While that is part of our national identity and while we are proud of it, we don’t suffer war lightly, and we detest asking our soldiers to put themselves in harm’s way, unless there is no other way.

Some would argue that because of these horrific events in France there is no alternative but all out war on Isis. I agree. But should that change our decision to go back to dealing with conflicts in a mostly humanitarian role, or strengthen our resolve?

Other than ground troops which no one is deploying, we have very little to offer. We only have a few jets in the game to begin with and they are all reaching the end of their service. One questions their safety, and hence the safety of those we are asking to fly them.

But beyond that we can help in many other ways. Our military is highly regarded for its ability to teach local troops. We are bringing in a very large number of refugees. Our military can provide help with getting aid to those it’s being directed to. There are many ways we can help the war against terrorism besides joining in with the fighting.

And in fact, our peaceful stand will help fight home grown terrorism.

Yes; the elephant in the room is that Canada only started experiencing terrorist attacks of our own when Harper changed our military role. That certainly doesn’t justify those attacks in any way, but it explains their cause.

It is a cause and effect world. Without pointing fingers or laying blame, as there is no one to blame but history, the fact is that not one bit of this situation was caused by Canada or our actions abroad at any time in history. Its best we keep it that way, while helping solve the situation best way we can, and lending all the support we can to those suffering from it.

While Canada cannot be neutral like the Swiss, we can choose how to best help our friends and allies, and peace in the region, while protecting our own best interests regarding our peace and security here at home. That in and of itself helps the world.

Were it a situation like the first or second world war where our allies were fighting in the trenches for their lives Canada would be there in a shot, as we always are. But that’s not the kind of war this is. This is one fundamentalist radical faction attempting to dominate the region that created them. They also hate the west and all we stand for.

Do they want world domination? Perhaps so. Not unlike the Christian fundamentalists of but a couple centuries ago.

It was the people themselves, Christians, who eventually created secular societies and the idea of separation of church and state for the protection of all the citizens of the land no matter what their religion. Perhaps the moderate Muslims of the Middle East will eventually do the same. One hopes through peaceful means. We can even help in that regard even if only by example

We embrace diversity in this country and expect only that those who come to reside with us share that value. You are free to believe what you like, and others are also free to believe what they like. The only way that works is if we understand that it means we have no right to impose our beliefs on others, and we all must respect each other and live in peace. In Canada that is the rule of law, as well as our most highly prized value.

The vast majority of Canadian Muslims share that understanding with us and live by it. That’s one reason they came here.

In a cause and effect world, if you want peace you act in ways that promote peace. If attacked, of course, you protect yourself. That goes without saying. But if anything, history has taught us that xenophobia isn’t the answer to anything: it’s the problem.

Each country decides for themselves what role they want on the world stage and what kind of society they wish to foster. We are not a super power and have no such aspirations. Canada wants peace within and outside its borders. And we believe that for the most part we can serve our friends and allies, as well as the rest of the world and ourselves, best; in ways other than continuing in a combat role.

A man who lost his fiancé and three friends in this latest atrocity said it best through his obvious pain:

“We have to come together in love and peace.”

I couldn’t agree more.


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