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New plan to fight Islamic State could be ready in weeks: McKay

It is “reasonable” to assume the government will have a clear plan for our combat mission in the Middle East within weeks, says parliamentary secretary for the defence minister, John McKay.

The parliamentary secretary to the minister of defence says it’s reasonable to assume that his government will have a plan in place for continuing Canada’s fight against the so-called Islamic State when coalition partners meet in mid-February.

Pressed on the timeline for the new plan – which the Liberals have said will include pulling out Canada’s CF-18 bombers and increasing training initiatives – John McKay gave a couple of reasons for the delay in drafting it since the election last fall.

“In the previous government there was a one-man show, so it was kind of easier to arrive at a plan,” McKay noted. “I think there have been broad and extensive consultations by both the prime minster and the minister (on the new approach).”

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The other explanation, he said, is the complexity of the various conflicts in the Middle East, and the similar complexity of the international response.

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When asked by The West Block’s Tom Clark if the Liberal plan will be ready to be presented by the time the 27 anti-IS coalition partners sit down on Feb. 11 to discuss next steps, McKay replied “I think that’s a reasonable assumption.”

“I think that the elements of a plan are taking shape and we will be in a position to be a vigorous and robust contributor to the conflict,” he said.

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McKay was also asked about more broad-based defence policy, including military spending and Canada’s possible military role in African conflicts. The parliamentary secretary said Mali is one country where his government might consider intervention.

“I suppose it’s an option. I can’t say whether it is or it isn’t being considered, but there are conflicts in all of those areas.”

 

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