Greens talk foreign policy, call for NATO review of Turkey amid military action

Green Party leader Elizabeth May waves as she walks on stage for the Federal leaders French language debate in Gatineau, Que. on Thursday, October 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Green Leader Elizabeth May says Canada needs to rethink whether it should stay in NATO, and the 29-country military alliance also needs to review Turkey’s membership because of its invasion of northern Syria.

May offered that assessment as the Greens highlighted a series of foreign policy promises on Friday, including aligning Canada with the global movements to ban nuclear and autonomous weapons.

Turkey’s military action is targeting Kurdish forces and comes after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly decided Sunday that American troops would stand aside — a radical shift in American foreign policy.

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“I think NATO should review Turkey’s membership in NATO. And I think Canada should review Canada’s membership in NATO to see if it meets our strategic needs in the 21st Century,” May said in Ottawa.

READ MORE: Trump, Syria and Turkey — Here’s a look at what’s happening

Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria drew widespread condemnation internationally and across party lines within the U.S. because it is widely seen as abandonment of the Syrian Kurdish fighters who have been America’s sole allies in Syria fighting the Islamic State group. Tens of millions of Kurds live on land divided among Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, comprising sizable minority populations in each country, and many seek a separate state.

May also criticized Trump and suggested Canada should be pressing for answers.

But Trump has been critical of NATO in the past and questioned whether a group formed to deter the Soviet Union in the Cold War is still relevant, which forced May to address whether she might be aligned with Trump on the alliance’s usefulness.

“I think Mr. Trump is pursuing a protectionist, isolationist, xenophobic agenda. Greens would never align with that,” said May.

Click to play video 'Republicans criticize Trump for pulling out U.S troops from Syria' Republicans criticize Trump for pulling out U.S troops from Syria
Republicans criticize Trump for pulling out U.S troops from Syria – Oct 7, 2019

Canada firmly condemned Turkey’s action as Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a series of tweets earlier this week that the unilateral action by Turkey risks rolling back the progress against Islamic State militants.

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The Green foreign policy platform platform acknowledges something that is now rote in Western military doctrine — that climate change is a major contributor to increased global instability.

May says climate change is also the cause of natural disasters, and a rise in global conflicts over resources. She re-iterated how the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau is setting too low a target for the reduction of harmful greenhouse gases. She likened Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to a pair of fictional female outlaws from an iconic Hollywood movie.

“Whenever Catherine McKenna says in the House of Commons, ‘The environment and the economy go hand in hand,’ the image that comes to mind is ‘Thelma and Louise’ at the cliff because that’s the way Trudeau and McKenna deliver the environment and the economy going hand in hand — pedal to the metal, off the edge of a cliff.”

Click to play video 'Leaders’ Debate: May calls Trudeau’s climate targets ‘a commitment to failure’' Leaders’ Debate: May calls Trudeau’s climate targets ‘a commitment to failure’
Leaders’ Debate: May calls Trudeau’s climate targets ‘a commitment to failure’ – Oct 7, 2019

May says a Green government, if elected, would sign the Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and ban autonomous weapons — so-called killer robots. May called on Canada to lead an effort within NATO to get it to renounce its nuclear weapons doctrine, which is based on maintaining them as a military deterrent.

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The Greens would also ban Canadian arms exports to Saudi Arabia and ban the importation of Saudi oil.