Speech Article from
Address by Minister Dion at press conference to announce Canada's new strategy to respond to Middle East crises
February 8, 2016 - Ottawa, Ontario
Check Against Delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with the Government of Canada’s communications policy.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to summarize what the Minister of International Development [Marie-Claude Bibeau], the Minister of Defence [Harjit Singh Sajjan] and the Prime Minister [Justin Trudeau] himself have just expressed.
Terrorism knows no borders. This is why it is in Canada’s interest to help our allies eradicate this terrorist group, the self-proclaimed Islamic State [of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)], at terrorism’s epicentre.
However, for our actions to have a chance to make a lasting difference, we Canadians must provide assistance to a terribly destabilized part of the world.
The plan we are announcing today will increase Canada’s effectiveness, alongside our allies, to both eradicate the so-called Islamic State and to bring long-term stability to the region.
We must combat terrorism today and not allow it to return tomorrow.
We must address the conflict today and prevent its return tomorrow.
This plan can be summarized in three words: comprehensive, integrated and sustained.
“Comprehensive”: the plan invests in most aspects of a durable solution: military, political and stabilization efforts, and, separately, humanitarian and development assistance. Each of these elements is essential and complements the others.
We Canadians are respected for our ability to train ground troops, to support security forces, to combine effective humanitarian and development support and to provide sound diplomacy. We have significant expertise in stabilization, security and development programming. We know how to talk to regional leaders, supporting them when we should and pressing them for action when we must.
As local forces continue to liberate areas from ISIL control in Iraq, our support will help displaced populations return to their homes by assisting their efforts to restore basic services, such as water, electricity and schools.
Bombing missions by Canada’s six CF-18s will end, but we will draw on more of our varied expertise. Our plan almost triples the military training effort; increases our diplomatic presence; maintains surveillance and air refuelling; adds helicopters to evacuate the injured; provides medical assistance; counters radicalization; combats the financing of terrorism; provides urgent humanitarian aid, long-term development and governance assistance; promotes diversity and reconciliation; and provides a strong presence in Iraq that also brings assistance to Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
This makes our plan not only comprehensive but also integrated.
This brings me to my second point.
Comprehensive—but also “integrated”: our plan brings together resources and experience from across government and will be implemented in close cooperation with key partners and allies.
Finally, “sustained”: through this plan, we are making a multi-year commitment to this effort because we recognize that this is a complex and protracted conflict. Over the next three years, we are committed to investing approximately $1.6 billion to respond to the crises in Iraq and Syria and to address their impact on Jordan, Lebanon and the wider region.
Last point: our plan is also flexible. We know that the situation in the Middle East can change rapidly. So our strategy will be subject to frequent reviews, precisely to ensure that it remains relevant and responsive to what is happening on the ground.
As always, when confronted by adversity, Canada will be strong, steadfast, humane and courageous.
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Hon. Stéphane Dion Global Affairs Canada Government and Politics
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