It took a while, but Justin Trudeau is putting his mark on Canada’s policies in the Middle East. Last week, the Trudeau government announced that it was removing some sanctions on Iran, and Stephan Dion said Canada wanted to restore ties with Iran, albeit slowly, and “with its eyes wide open”. The rational so far has largely been economic. With Iranian President Rouhani visiting Europe to drum up investment and trade, Canada is losing its chance to get into Iranian markets. The kicker was the Iranian deal with Airbus for new aircraft, which left Canadian company Bombadier with one less potential customer for its struggling C-Series airliner. The economic argument works two ways though. Of course, trade is an end in itself for the Canadian government. However at the same time, the Trudeau government had campaigned on renewing ties with Tehran and was looking for the right opportunity. The trade angle gives the Trudeau government an easy way to deflect conservative criticism for opening dialogue with Iranian government. The Globe and Mail article linked below gives a summary, and shamelessly, includes a short quote from myself.
Canadian exporters buoyed by reduction of sanctions against Iran
This week, the Trudeau government also announced its new Iraq policy. Again, Justin Trudeau campaigned on reversing the Harper government’s policies, this time the commitment to bombing missions against ISIS. Trudeau waited several months before keeping his promise, which was not surprising given Canada’s alliance commitments, not to mention the Paris bombing. The new policy, as promised, does put an end to the bombing mission and increases humanitarian aid. However it does not mean Canada is reducing its involvement in the conflict. Indeed, Ottawa is more than doubling the military personnel deployed to the fight against ISIS and promising a two year commitment. Trudeau seems to be looking for a middle ground on this policy, keeping his election promises without alienating Washington. According to the CBC the details are as follows:
“It will also increase by 230 the 600 Canadian Armed Forces members deployed as part coalition mission.
Canada’s military effort under Operation IMPACT will also include maintaining aircrew and support personnel for one CC-150 Polaris aerial refuelling aircraft and up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance aircraft. Canada will also send troops to mark targets for the coalition partners.
Canada’s new contribution will total more than $1.6 billion over the next three years and include:
$264 million to extend the military mission in Iraq and Syria for one year until March 31, 2017.
$145 million over three years in non-military security efforts, such as counter-terrorism initiatives.
$840 million over three years in humanitarian assistance.
$270 million over three years to “build local capacity” in Jordan and Lebanon, where there are a large number of refugees.
An increased diplomatic presence in the region.”
ISIS airstrikes by Canada to end by Feb. 22, training forces to triple