OTTAWA – Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says he doesn’t want a repeat of coalition mistakes in the Afghan war and that is why cabinet is taking its time to consider the new shape of the Iraq mission.
He argues for a considered approach, suggesting that the absence of earlier reflection meant – among other things – that well-intentioned development aid in Afghanistan actually fuelled corruption and instability.
The Trudeau government – the rookie minister minister in particular – is under increasing pressure to outline what sort of commitment it will make to the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant once CF-18 jetfighters are pulled back.
Impatience boiled over in the House of Commons this week during question period and is evident in the diplomatic community, which has been pressing Sajjan behind closed door for weeks for specifics.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised a more robust training mission, but Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion warned this week that Canada will not be able to meet all of its allies’ requests – something Sajjan repeated on Friday.
Speaking at the closing of a foreign policy conference, Sajjan politely pushed back at critics, saying a measured approach is necessary, since decisions can have unforeseen consequences.