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On CF-18s for NATO operation in Eastern Europe

From Tom Mulcair:
To be clear, the Russian Federation's annexation of Crimea and provocations in Eastern Ukraine are as unacceptable as they are illegal. And like our allies, we've been unequivocal in condemning Russia's military intervention and in calling for a diplomatic solution to this crisis.  However, after turning their backs on international engagement for years, the Conservatives have now severely constricted our country's ability to play a constructive role.

We must reassure our partners in Eastern Europe of our firm commitment to their sovereignty, stability, and security. But it's not enough for Canada to simply posture and take potshots. Instead, we must step up our diplomatic efforts in the region because a political resolution remains the only path to long-term stability.

Canada's reputation as an independent and principled member of the international community was a cornerstone for some of our country's greatest accomplishments in the twentieth century. That legacy of international responsibility—now profoundly tarnished by the Conservatives—was fundamental to how we saw ourselves and how others saw us. Looking forward, our New Democratic team will not give up until Canada has reclaimed its role as an unyielding voice for peace on the world stage.

Thank you for copying me on your letter to the Prime Minister about Canada sending CF-18 fighter jets to Eastern Europe as a “show of strength.” It boggles the mind that we have gotten to the point where the Prime Minister deems it appropriate to send a mission of over 200 soldiers without first consulting Parliament. We used to live in a country where we took missions like these seriously and where the constitutional supremacy of Parliament was recognized in making decisions of this importance. In contrast, Members of Parliament only heard about this after the decision had been made.

Canada used to play a crucial role on the world stage. We used to be the honest brokers, known for our success in diplomacy when it seemed that force was the only option. We are now transitioning towards a nation that sends fighter jets to flex our muscles and to intimidate, not thinking about how that will affect our diplomatic credibility. Though it is the Harper Conservatives who are pushing this agenda, the other opposition parties have also signed on. Even when Parliament is allowed the courtesy of a vote on our military missions, as in the vote to extend the military mission in Libya, mine was the only dissenting vote.

In sending these jets, not only was the democratic process not respected, it is also very unclear what the terms of the mission are. In the words of Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin “There is a lot of uncertainty about what we're going to be doing over there.” We know that we are sending jets, we just are not exactly sure why.

While we should be pushing for dialogue and diplomacy, we are sending an open-ended mission with unclear terms. Instead of playing a key role in resolving the crisis in Ukraine, we are opting for empty force. Parliament could have told Harper this. If only he had asked.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday ruled out military intervention in the dispute with Russia over Ukraine and said she was counting on a diplomatic resolution to Europe’s worst crisis since the Cold War ended. ARNO SCHUETZE FRANKFURT — Reuters


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