Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nathan Cullen speaks to House of Commons regarding Canada's Iraq engagement

The topic of Canada's contribution to the ongoing efforts against the Islamic militant group ISIL reached the House of Commons on Tuesday, with Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen taking part in the discussion as part of the debate in the House.

He offered up his observations on the nature of Canada's engagement in the  region, calling Canada's response as incoherent, suggesting that the Conservative Government was offering up false choices when it comes to how they are approaching the plan as outlined by the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence.

A mission which will see six CF 18 fighter jets tasked to the Iraqi engagement, along with two supply and reconnaissance planes, as well as the required support staff to go with them.

The main thrust of his observations on the theme consisted of what the NDP considers is a lack of information on the approach that Canada will take, offering up the New Democratic Party's view of what may be missing in the approach taken by the governing Conservatives

As a course of his contribution to the House debate, Mr. Cullen advised the Conservative Government that the NDP would not rubber stamp a mission into the Middle East, outlining concerns of a six month plan morphing into a much longer mission and one that is more wide ranging than currently planned for.

At times he deviated from his concern over the mission itself and expressed his opinion that the Conservatives were politicizing events, using aspects of the military mission as a form of a fund raising campaign through e mail.

An observation that seems to have strayed a bit from the overall tone of the discussion in the House, which for most contributors focused more on the mission itself and the dangers that it may pose for those that Canada is sending to Iraq.

Adding a partisan political aspect to his otherwise heartfelt address, even one which did provide for valid points of concern, was perhaps something that should have best been left to a different time and a different forum.

As it was, tagging the discussion with a political spin, did seem to diminish Mr. Cullen's message.

As part of their response to Mr. Cullen's address, Paul Calandra, the Conservative Parliamentary Secretary for Inter-governmental Affairs Minister, found some disappointment in the political references from Mr. Cullen's discussion points, while also observing that the Government for the most part acknowledged that the NDP would not be offering support to the Iraqi mission.

As he finished off his rebuttal, Mr. Calandra asked Mr. Cullen to outline which conditions would have to exist before the NDP would support Canadian Forces moving in support of countries that need assistance.

Mr. Cullen addressed both the issue of the tone of the discussion and observed as to the ideals and principles that the NDP has stated on the issue in the past, which for the most part would seek out more input and guidance from the United Nations..

Offering up as his final thought, his belief that the military option was the only position that the Federal Government had considered taking, over any other form of global engagement.

Or as Mr. Cullen stated:  "we hear nothing of this from this government, we hear CF 18's,  because when you only have a hammer int he tool box, every problem looks like a nail"   

You can review Mr. Cullen's thirteen minute address to the House below:


On Tuesday evening, the vote in the House of Commons on the Military Contribution Against ISIL delivered the anticipated approval.

Toronto Star-- Tory plan is patriotism, fear and six CF-18's
National Post-- MPs vote 157-134 in support of combat mission against ISIS in Iraq
CBC-- ISIS: MP's approve air combat mission

With Mr. Cullen's vote against the Conservatives military plan never in doubt.

Some recent background on Canada's military response to the Iraqi situation can be found below

National Post-- Canadian warplanes positioned to attack ISIS terrorists in three weeks
National Post-- Iraq debate leaves Canadians in a fog of war: Harper government gives few details on cost of ISIS mission
Globe and Mail-- Liberals will support Iraqi combat mission after voting against it, Garneau says
Globe and Mail-- Who are the war hawks now?
Globe and Mail-- Our Mideast Mission implausible
Toronto Sun-- It's "not about whipping out our CF-18s to show how big they are': Trudeau
Toronto Star-- War and Peace Canadian style
Toronto Star-- Both parties playing politics with the call to arms
CBC-- ISIS Mission: Divided, uncertain Canada edges gingerly into Iraq
CBC-- ISIS Mission gets aid injection as MPs debate air combat role in Iraq

For more items on the NDP MP"s work in the House of Commons see our archive page here.

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