by Candice Malcolm
September 2, 2016
Back in 2011, federal bureaucrats took issue with using the phrase “Harper government” to describe the previous administration in official government news releases.
Apparently, that was too partisan for the gentle souls in Canada’s civil service.
These same bureaucrats, however, had no problem parroting Justin Trudeau’s favourite partisan talking point when announcing the delivery of a Liberal campaign promise.
A recent government of Canada news release about the Trudeau government’s peacekeeping plan contained blatantly partisan language.
“Canada is back, and that includes its peace missions,” read the news release, written by supposedly non-partisan civil servants at Global Affairs Canada.
That wasn’t a quote from a Liberal cabinet minister, which are listed in a separate section of the release, attributed to them.
Rather, it was tucked into the news portion of the bulletin.
It’s one thing for Liberal politicians to say “Canada is back,” gloating that their party is back in power.
But it’s quite another for the civil service to join this self-congratulatory backslapping.
Canada, of course, didn’t go anywhere. That is particularly true for the Canadian Forces, who played a proud and prominent role in global conflicts during the Harper years.
According to a memo prepared for Foreign Minister Stephane Dion – obtained through an access to information request by Postmedia’s David Akin – despite Liberal rhetoric, Canada has remained active in UN operations.
In October 2015, the Harper government’s last month in office, the report says Canada was “actively engaged in international peace support operations … in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Haiti, Cyprus and Israel/Lebanon.”
Canadian Forces personnel were also stationed in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank, Kosovo and Ukraine in peace support operations led by other organizations.
And Canada was part of the US-led military coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Trudeau took issue with Canada’s role in Syria; one of his first acts as PM was to pull Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets from the conflict.
Trudeau doesn’t want Canada involved directly in a war. He wants our troops to be “peacekeepers.”
According to the latest announcement, that means sending 600 troops as well as military aircraft to assist UN peacekeeping operations in a yet-to-be-determined location.
One possibility is Mali. The feds are sending a fact-finding mission to take a closer look at UN operations in the west African country.
Mali has been locked in a deadly civil war for years. Similar to Syria, a heavy-handed but secular military dictatorship is fighting against at least five different Islamist terrorist groups trying to impose Islamic law.
As with Syria, the Mali conflict is a war in progress – a dangerous conflict in which the West has no natural allies.
But unlike the war in Syria, it’s unclear how Canada can play a meaningful role in Mali.
The genocide in Syria created a moral imperative for Canada to intervene. It’s in our national security interest to defeat ISIS – a terrorist organization that threatens Canada and wages coordinated attacks against the West.
As for the Mali conflict, Canadian troops could be sent into harm’s way with no clear objective.
Canada’s non-partisan civil servants are supposed to advise elected officials on the best course of action.
According to the government’s code of ethics, they are to give “fearless advice” and make decisions “without favouritism or bias.”
However, when it comes to the Trudeau government’s misguided foreign policy, they look more like Liberal cheerleaders.