February 14, 2016 12:01 pm

Canada’s new ISIS mission undermines the coalition: Fisher

Postmedia's international affairs columnist Matthew Fisher tells Tom Clark the government is putting military troops in a more volatile area with its new ISIS plan.


The federal government is placing troops at greater risk in the fight against the so-called Islamic State, says a veteran war correspondent, and it has not been entirely up-front with Canadians about it.

Matthew Fisher, Canada’s longest-serving foreign correspondent with more than 30 years experience abroad, told The West Block’s Tom Clark that it’s clear to him that increasing training resources to help local Kurdish soldiers fighting the terrorist group near Mosul will place Canadians in harm’s way.

“It’s on the frontlines with Islamic State,” Fisher said. “Well fine, good. I think we can help out there. But the Canadian public should be made aware of this. Instead, we’re getting drip, drip, drip, little bits of information.”

WATCH Chief of defence staff says risks to troops will increase


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According to Fisher, pulling Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets out of the U.S-led bombing campaign is likely drawing a lot more criticism from Canada’s allies than the Liberals are letting on. For the allies to say they welcome the change in Canada’s tactics is “hogwash,” Fisher said.

“Governments are not supposed to criticize other governments when you’re allies. You can kick the hell out of Vladimir Putin or the Iranians as much as you want, but with your friends, you settle your disputes in private.”

It’s no coincidence that Canada has ramped up its mission a little bit more than initially planned, Fisher noted. That was probably done in response to complaints by the United States and France.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to pull the fighter jets out during the election campaign, and has not wavered on that promise in spite of the terror attacks in Paris and ongoing pressure from the Opposition Conservatives.

Last week, the Liberals unveiled what they called a more comprehensive plan to fight the so-called Islamic State, tripling the number of trainers on the ground in Northern Iraq and dedicating hundreds of millions of dollars to humanitarian efforts in the region. The re-fueling and surveillance activities being conducted by the Canadian military will continue, Trudeau said, but the CF-18s are expected to stop dropping bombs on Feb. 22.

READ MORE: Canada to end bombing mission against ISIS by Feb. 22

Watch the full interview above.

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