01.22.2015 08:13 PM

In Friday’s Sun: little interview, big problem

Should Canada have participated in the First World War, when we weren’t contributing anything that our Allies didn’t already have?

Should we have joined the fight against fascism in the Second World War – because we weren’t certain we would win?

Silly questions, yes. But they will likely be asked, just the same, of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau following a misstep in Southwestern Ontario this week – when he sat down with a London radio host, and expounded on his position on our efforts to combat the genocidal force that is ISIS.

The interview, with host Andrew Lawton on AM 980, should have been a straightforward affair. Lawton is a well-known conservative, but Trudeau – as a national political leader – does hundreds of media interviews every year. Handling Lawton shouldn’t have been difficult.

The Liberal leader agreed to meet with Lawton because his caucus was already in London, planning for the coming parliamentary session. Trudeau was there to wave the Grit flag a bit and try to recapture the Southwest Ontario strength the party once enjoyed under Jean Chretien.

When outside Ottawa, and in smaller media markets, federal political leaders do a lot of local media. Privately, Ottawa folks often like local media. They assume the questions won’t be as tough as what they get back in the nation’s capital.

For political war rooms, however, these encounters are sometimes very valuable – because, sometimes, the leader lets his or her guard down. Or they don’t sufficiently prepare. And, when no one is expecting it, the local media guy delivers a punch that no one was expecting.

Which brings us to Justin Trudeau, sitting down on Wednesday with Lawton.

Mostly, Trudeau did fine. For the first seven minutes, he repeated his key messages, and he kept his cool. But it was in the following segment that Trudeau did himself – and his party – no favours.

LAWTON: So under what circumstances as prime minister would [military action] be warranted in your eyes?

TRUDEAU: I think it’s warranted if there is a reasonable chance of success, if there’s a way that Canada can offer expertise the rest of the world is unable to provide.

LAWTON: Just to clarify, are you saying there’s no chance of success with the fight against ISIS?

TRUDEAU: Oh, I’m saying, this is going to be a very long, long challenge against ISIS, and Canada’s role in engaging with that needs to be best suited to what we can do better than other countries.

Trudeau goes on in a similar fashion, but he doesn’t ever extricate himself from the deep hole into which Lawton nudged him. That is, Canada shouldn’t ever take military action if (a) we aren’t sure we aren’t going to win and (b) if some other nation is already doing the sort of thing that we do.

You don’t need to be a military historian to see the problem, here. The conditions Trudeau has imposed would render it impossible for Canada to participate in any military effort, ever. Because most of our allies, militarily, can do what we do. Because we aren’t ever completely certain we are always going to triumph.

Trudeau’s statement will find favour with New Democrats – because many New Democrats feel the best way to deal with genocide, now or then, is to send over bags of rice to the victims. But what he has said is not in the traditions of the Liberal Party of Canada, when we rightly committed Canadians to fighting malevolent forces in Germany, Korea, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Out of little things can grow big problems. This week in London, Ont., Justin Trudeau turned a little radio interview into a great big problem – for himself.


  1. Gus Tserotas says:

    And so the subtle backstabbing begins right on schedule. Look for it to escalate as the election gets closer.

    • Lance says:

      WK has always let his views be known regarding confronting terrorism in a more concrete way. And he’s doing his job as a journalist rather than being a mere party tool. These are hardly “backstabbing”.

    • ottawacon says:

      Didn’t someone once say it was better to have someone in the tent pissing out?

    • Warren says:

      I work for a newspaper, not a political party. And what I have expressed here is identical to what I had previously expressed to Trudeau’s most senior aide, who describes himself as “the CEO” of the Liberal Party.

      Trudeau had a choice. He made the wrong one.

    • Mervyn Norton says:

      How do we get from “a reasonable chance of success” (Justin) to “completely certain we are always going to triumph” (Warren) and from “best suited to what we can do better than other countries” (Justin) to “some other nation is already doing the sort of thing that we do” (Warren)?

  2. MoS says:

    Gwynne Dyer, with his PhD in war studies, lecturer at Sandhurst, governor of Canada’s Royal Military College, veteran of the Canadian, British and US navies argues we would have been better off had Germany won WWI. (hint – the outcome would have been about the same and Germany wouldn’t have hatched Hitler). Yes, and remind me please, Warren, about all the lasting achievements we’ve garnered from Afghanistan. We all know the supposed air war we’re waging against ISIS will be even less effective than our exertions in Afghanistan and yet we’ll happily sell 15-billion dollars worth of light armoured combat vehicles to the same state that has sponsored every radical Sunni movement, al Qaeda and ISIS included, and that will sponsor the next bunch in their war against Shiite Islam. Since we’re so quick to respond to genocide, the Canadian tradition, where were we when innocents were getting slaughtered by the millions in Congo, the Central African Republic and Rwanda? If it’s “malevolent forces” we fight, we’re willing to give plenty of them a pass when it suits us.

    • MississaugaPeter says:


      Supported Canada’s foray into Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda training and hierarchy. Was against the continued occupation of Afghanistan once that was achieved.

      Al Qaeda was responsible for 9/11. The “War on Terror”, billions of dollars later, has prevented another 9/11-type recurrence these past 13 plus years!

      ISIS is much worse than Al Qaeda. Whereas Al Qaeda had a beef with American involvement in the Middle East, ISIS has a beef with every non-Muslim in the world.

      The world is paying for 4 U.S. presidents in a row bombing Iraq. Bush Sr. was right in attacking Iraq when they attacked Kuwait and Obama and Harper are right in dropping bombs on ISIS in Iraq and Syria to stop the training, expansion, and hierarchy of ISIS.

      Allowing ISIS to grow stronger is a threat to the entire world. The terrorists must be stopped before they unleash 9/11-type attacks all over the world. Can you imagine what they might do if they got their hands on a nuclear warhead?

      • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

        ISIS is not just intent on killing every non-Muslim in the world. They are killing many many Muslims too.

    • Peter says:

      Gwynne Dyer….argues we would have been better off had Germany won WWI

      Yes, that sounds like the kind of faux-intellectual drivel Gwynne has parlayed into a career. We should have thrown Vimy Ridge ’cause anyone as smart as Gwynne would have seen Adolf waiting in the wings and biding his time. “Mustn’t upset those touchy Germans Rodney, or they’ll be back at us soon, so let’s advance to the rear and do a little strategic surrendering. For the children.”

      If it’s “malevolent forces” we fight, we’re willing to give plenty of them a pass when it suits us.

      Of all the predictable leftist shibboleths about war (“root causes, quagmires, etc.) , that is the dreamiest and I suspect the most hypocritical. It leads to the conclusion we should either never engage in hostilities with anyone or we should be scouring the world for injustices and invading everyone, all in the name of abstract consistency. It’s sounds like something an undergrad seminar in first year philosophy would come up with and reminds me of “Of course Israel has the right to defend itself, just not in whatever way it happens to be defending itself at the moment.”

      • cgh says:

        Quite right, Peter, it is pure drivel. For any serious historian of the time, the German Junkers were no picnic either. At least a year before the end of the war, Germany had descended into a military dictatorship for all practical purposes. The anti-semitism that came to full growth in the 1930s and ’40s didn’t just come out of nowhere. It was alive and well long before that.

        It’s also worth noting that Dwyer’s stupid “what if” would have been predicated on millions of more Allied casualties than was in fact the case. Dwyer conveniently ignores the fact that the consequences of losing the war would have been far more severe on us. In effect, he’s spitting on the corpses of all of those who died and are remembered on November 11.

    • Peter says:

      BTW, MoS, after extensive Googling, I can find no record that Dyer is or was ever a Governor of RMC. He wasn’t in the U.S., Canadian or British navies, he was in their naval reserves (Canada’s at age 16), presumably while studying. Since 1977 he has been a full time journalist.

    • Henry says:

      RE: Gwynne Dyer

      If you have to begin by citing your source’s academic achievements, the argument is usually paper thin; and so it is here, with the assertion that “we should have let Germany win WWI, the outcome would have been pretty much the same.” Actually, neither Dyer, you nor anyone else knows what might have happened had Germany won the first war — it’s just counterfactual speculation at its weakest.

  3. Jnap says:

    I understand that war is very different now than 70 years ago, because of the way that guerilla groups and terror groups operate, because of how they seed their fighters across the world. Therefore it will be very hard to say when it is “over” and when one side “wins”. maybe this is what JT has to say more clearly, if that what he means.
    As for how Canada can help fight such a war, there are hundreds of ways. i would like to know why we cant refuse to sell tanks and weapons to Middle east countries that are indirectly funding terror groups. So what if General Dynamics cuts a few jobs in Canada. Also, we can feed the civilian refugees and help them purify the water that they desperately need. After all, the middle east will continue to have droughts and will continue to need water. The countries with water will be more stable in the long run. well that is my penny’s worth.

  4. Al in Cranbrook says:

    The right answer… http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/situation-in-iraq-has-evolved-canada-s-top-soldier-says-1.2200553

    Quote: “At an event in St. Catharines, Ont., on Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canadian troops were assisting Kurdish forces in particular.

    “We’re there to make those guys effective so they can take on the Islamic State and deal with them,” Harper said.

    “And if those guys fire at us, we’re going to fire back and we’re going to kill them, just like our guys did. And we’re very proud of what they’re doing in Iraq.”

    GD straight we are!!!

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      How political dialogue has changed over the decades. I am reminded of attending a Socred meeting in Oliver, BC, with Dad back when I was about 12 or so, circa 1966. The guest speaker was Real Caouette, leader of the federal party. He stood about 5′ 2″, and probably weighed maybe 120 lbs soaking wet, but he could speak to an audience and lift them out of their seats like few I’ve ever heard since.

      One of the issues of the day was the Cold War. He related at story, to paraphrase…

      After the communist revolution in Russia, they set about to spread their murderous ideology to neighboring countries. To this end they put two agents on a ship crossing the Black Sea to Turkey. The Turks got wind of it, and had two of their agents waiting for them on that same boat. Somewhere during the cruise, the Turkish agents nabbed the two communist provocateurs, cut their throats and tossed them overboard. The Turkish government then sent a message to Lenin et al inviting them to send two more. And Turks had no problems with Russian spies.

      True or not, I assure everyone his point was well taken by the audience.

      Point being, back in those days there wasn’t any mystery, forget about ambivalence, about who were the bad guys and who were the good guys. And how to deal with ’em.

      …and all this modern day “political correctness” crap that’s got so many peoples’ heads stuck up their own asses was still a long way off over the horizon.

  5. Doconnor says:

    “Should Canada have participated in the First World War, when we weren’t contributing anything that our Allies didn’t already have?”

    Canada contributed competant leadership. 🙂

    • cgh says:

      That’s no joke. Arthur Currie was probably the best general on the Allied side during the war. The record of the Canadian army didn’t happen just because they were skilled, well-trained and well motivated. They were also led by a commander who understood thoroughly what needed to be done and how to do it.

  6. MJH says:

    Yikes! Trudeau is not the sharpest tool in the drawer.

  7. Joe says:

    I long too dearly for peace to ever be a pacifist and yet one must take care that one doesn’t cause needless harm and suffering BUT there is a time when all just men and women stand together and say, “NO MORE”. When I see the barbarities perpetrated by ISIS I realize this is such a time. The incoherent ramblings of an non-serious ‘leader’ should be ignored by all sentient human beings.

  8. Lance says:

    “This is a robust mission where (Canadian Forces) are going to make (Iraqi Security Forces) effective to take on the Islamic State and deal with them,” he said. “And if those guys fire at us, we’re going to fire back and we’re going to kill them.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

    Apoplectic Trudeaustic outrage in 5……4…..3……

    • Nicole says:

      I see the election stumping has started. Has any other leader of a western nation used this kind of language? Most people won’t disagree that ISIS needs to be stopped because they are simply insane, but Harper’s macho rhetoric on this is disturbing. There are the lives of Canadian soldiers at stake and he is using this terrorist threat as a way to look tough. That is irresponsible and it does make me question how much of our involvement is based on making him look like a stronger leader than Trudeau and Mulcair as opposed to what we should be actually doing in this effort. The more he sounds like George W, the less confidence I have that proper decisions are being made. And I am sure it is no coincidence that the rhetoric is escalating as the oil prices are dropping.

      • Lance says:


      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        So, what you’re saying is that PM Harper shouldn’t be honest with Canadians?

        Or, it’s just that you’re affronted by his apparent lack of political correctness?

        You know, yes, we’re over there to wipe out these murderous, barbarian ISIS butchers, but it’s not proper (very nicey-nice) to say it out loud.

      • MississaugaPeter says:

        O.K. Nicole.

        Harper is George W.? In spite of being prime minister for almost a decade, no military involvement in Iraq until Obama rightly attacked ISIS.

        Harper is a manipulating, self-serving twit, but he is at least not CANADA’S NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN.

        “Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-populated Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany.”

        Justin Trudeau is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular, conceding Syria and Iraq to lunatics who believe in the world-wide genocide of all people except adherents to their abhorrent take of Islam.

      • Bert says:

        So, what do you suggest, Nicole? Few, if any, other world leaders are calling a spade a spade here. It is refreshing to hear someone state the truth. No pussy footing around. It is not macho rhetoric, just down to earth realism designed to help our soldiers. You have no idea what comments like Harper’s does to the morale of the men and women on the front lines. Believe me, I know. I was in the military when PET was PM and I can tell you first hand the devastating affect he had on us.

        What should we do, though? Hand out blankets and toques? I think that Canada has lived off the avails of prostitution for long enough. We have relied on the US to provide our security, on their dime. We know that ISIS – like al-Qaeda before it – will end up on the streets of Canadian cities if we don’t stop them before they get here. Relying on the Americans to fight and die that we may be free is the worst for of prostitution that there is.

        And it has noting to do with politics.

        • GFMD says:

          if our soldiers fall aaprt because somebody points out shortcomings of our overseas operations, they are at the most poorly trained and at most incompetent. Either way such soldiers would need to be removed from operational theatre because they are a threat to themselves and others, before being discharged and given the help they need.

  9. Chris says:

    I don’t think Trudeau’s interview will be a significant problem, if it is is a problem at all. The “reasonable chance of success” line more likely meant that we don’t want to get involved in a costly quagmire that will not have long lasting results, ie. Iraq or Vietnam. The notion that we don’t want to be involved if our contribution is essentially not needed is based on the view that we don’t want to just be “symbolic soldiers” who participate in a mission just so there is a long list of nations involved. ie. a comfortingly long coalition list of countries showing international solidarity on an issue. Now, clearly, if as in WWII, the fight is an existential one, then Canadians should fight regardless of the odds of success and regardless of any particular expertise we may bring to bear. But if it’s a far away, optional or”elective” struggle, I think Trudeau’s view is a reasonable one although not one I share. I definitely support helping to bomb ISIS but his view is within a reasonable range and hardly a gaffe on which an election might turn.

    • Lance says:

      ………..but his view is within a reasonable range and hardly a gaffe on which an election might turn.

      Death by a thousand cuts. What number are we up to now?

      WK was right – foreign affairs is going to be a major election issue. And Trudeau just keeps cutting himself.

    • Peter says:

      It isn’t that he is criticizing the bombing. There are some very good and troubling questions about both its political and military effectiveness that should be asked and debated. The problem is that his musings seem to add up to either “Do nothing and it will all go away”, “We’ll be safer if we let others do the dirty work”, or “We’re just have to live through terrorism until we re-think our long-term foreign policy”. I would be quite impressed if he said something like investing in cyber-war and black op capabilities makes more sense, but I’m not holding my breath. What I think he is missing is the widespread expectation the Government will make preventing atrocities and protecting its citizens its priorities rather than re-ordering the geopolitical world.

    • cgh says:

      No, Chris, it’s not a reasonable one. I could have some understanding of his position if it was one of principled pacifism. But it’s not. JT seems to want ISIS stopped. He just doesn’t want Canadians to have anything to do with the hard, dirty work of actually stopping them. What he’s saying is that it’s reasonable for Canadians to be cowards, to shun the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (wonder what Lloyd Axworthy thinks about that?), and to condone the crimes ISIS is committing.

      And it’s not a minor, insignificant gaffe. He didn’t misspeak himself. He showed the true values, or lack thereof, within him. It’s rare that you get that kind of true glimpse into what makes up a politician.

      • Terence Quinn says:

        C’mon now. Even Obama has said there will be no UUS boots on the ground and the Brits as well. Training Iraqi soldiers to fight their enemy is as far as we should go.

        On the other hand why is no one taking exception to the Iranian and Russian positions in supporting the Syrian regime which actually gave birth to ISIL. If they stopped supporting the Syrian regime I think a lot of these problems would be moot. Syria would probably fall into a different kind of civil war but w/o outsiders to funnel arms and money.

    • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      When strategists and handlers have to come out to defend and explain what you really mean`t to say this often, it most definitely IS a problem.

      Trudeau was put away for a couple of weeks and now, his first time out, he`s at it again!

  10. Bruce says:

    Hey Warren, this quite the tempest in a teapot – an invented controversy, which is probably why I don’t see anyone else reporting on it. Trudeau is merely expressing a common standard for humanitarian interventions: we should intervene where we think there is a reasonable *chance* of success, which is not the same thing as saying ‘only where we will win’. Your old boss JC actually has a very honourable role in bringing this standard to international practice: his government set up the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, and then he and Lloyd Axworthy shepherded the resulting Responsibility to Protect (or R2P) doctrine through the UN in the early 2000s. If you read the commission’s report, they say that “military action can only be justified if it stands a reasonable chance of success . . . military intervention cannot be justified if actual protection cannot be achieved.” This is a widely endorsed – and justified – standard for military humanitarian intervention, and thanks to Jean Chrétien, it’s now part of international law.

    Finally, the comparison to the world wars is over the top and unfair. The world wars were big, great power wars and the fight against ISIS/L is not. ISIS simply does not pose the same existential challenge, and so it should be subject to a different set of principles and standards for judging whether or not and how we should intervene. I know you’re trying to make some sort of communications-related criticism, but I think a lot of people will hear Trudeau’s comments as someone arguing for a sober, measured assessment of how we ought to respond.

    Source: non-Trudeau supporter, but international relations nerd / stickler.

    • cgh says:

      So we should let it become a Great Power and only then beat up on it?
      A similarly disgusting gang was ignored in the 1930s and look where that led.
      The world did nothing about Khmer Rouge and that ended oh so well.
      And then there was that little tiff in Rwanda, and how high was the civilian massacre after that?
      Even Bill Clinton admitted that not intervening was the greatest mistake of his Presidency.
      No, JT is not arguing for a “sober, measured assessment”; he’s trying to chicken-sh!t his way out of a serious situation, pretending that someone else should do the dirty work.

      As for “reasonable chance of success”, that claim too is wrong.
      1. the stated purpose of the intervention was to stop ISIS, not annihilate them.
      2. if the force is inadequate, you can thank the US President who led the intervention with inadequate means.

      • Bruce says:

        Dude, reread what I wrote – a few times. You suggest that Trudeau thinks we shouldn’t intervene against ISIS. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t – I don’t know, and neither do you, much as you might like to assume so on the basis of your evident distaste for him. He hasn’t directly said what he thinks, which I think is Warren’s real problem with him. My point is about a standard of intervention enshrined in international law to which Trudeau was referring. This is a good standard, and it applies to what are somewhat fuzzily called intra-state conflicts like ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and less so to big, great power wars like the World Wars. As an expert in international relations, I’m pleased to hear Trudeau appealing to standards of international law, and I would be more pleased if he were to articulate a clear, direct policy, but he hasn’t. However, if even Barack Obama and Stephen Harper can’t tell us what success looks like, I’m willing to be a bit forgiving of Trudeau.

        You referred to the Nazis, Cambodia, and Rwanda, all of which took place before this standard (called ‘reasonable prospects’) had evolved. The Nazis are not a good comparison because they controlled a big, powerful state that inflicted incredible damage, but ISIS is simply nowhere near as powerful, nor does it control a state, so we need a different set of policy guidelines and practices for their case. Cambodia and Rwanda are good examples of why we need a doctrine like R2P – and in fact they explain why JC and others pushed for clear standards like ‘reasonable prospects’ in R2P.

        • Christian says:

          Here is what Trudeau said in Edmonton back in the fall of 2014:

          “There’s a lot of people, refugees, displaced peoples, fleeing violence who are facing a very, very cold winter in the mountains. Something Canada has expertise on is how to face a winter in the mountains with the right kind of equipment,”

          Source (among others): http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2014/11/07/22057896.html

          Uhm……..cough…..yeah. He really wants to intervene.

        • MM says:

          “You suggest that Trudeau thinks we shouldn’t intervene against ISIS. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t – I don’t know, and neither do you…”

          I do! In the interview Warren is discussing above, Trudeau says:

          “I have never been against Canada engaging robustly against ISIS. What I have been concerned with is the Prime Minister’s choice around the way we best do that”

          https://soundcloud.com/am980/andrew-lawton-interviews?in=am980/sets/andrew-lawton @ 6:53

        • cgh says:

          Bruce, your suggestion of a different set of requirements is useful. You are right about the Nazis controlling a large, powerful state, but it was not so in early 1938 at the time of Munich. They could have been stopped, but the west declined to do so.

          JT has articulated his lack of position quite clearly several times. It first surfaced in the Parliamentary debate last year. His position was consistent then with what he said this week. Someone should do something about ISIS, but not us. I don’t have to dislike him to come to that conclusion from his own words. It caused a minor scandal for Liberals then, and it’s repeating that now. I’m not forgiving of Trudeau on this. He wants to be the next PM. We can’t afford to have this kind of muddle-headed thinking from the one sitting in the big chair.

    • Scotian says:


      At the time I write this I just read 62 comments in this thread. Yours, and the one you write down below are by far IMHO the best and most reality based on both Trudeau and what Mr. Kinsella appears to have been concerned with, and as to why it is not an unreasonable standard since it was the one set by the man Mr. Kinsella has told us time and again is one of his heroes, Jean Chretien. I read the first thread Mr. Kinsella commented on this as some sort of problem and could not understand it then, but I had other things on my mind so I let it go (contrary to the belief of some I do not have this need to comment on everything I see/disagree with from someone, I do prefer to pick my choices). He did after all say reasonable chance of success, which is a far cry from the way it seemed it was being interpreted by Mr Kinsella and many of the Trudeau detractors at this site as Trudeau saying only commit when you KNOW you will win, AKA absolute certainty, a impossible standard.

      I happen to agree with the Chretien standard that Trudeau espoused for the most part. The one real category exception I make is wars of survival/extermination, where your very basic survival as a nation is under direct threat, those you fight or you are destroyed, you cannot measure those by odds of success, but what we are talking about her, indeed all the wars since the end of the Cold War none of these fit that description for Canada, nor I would argue any of the Western nations. I thought the position that Trudeau took last fall was the best “bang for our buck” use of our limited resources and out specialized knowledge to aid in the fight against ISIS/ISIL, we needed to help the nations that are our few remaining allies in that region cope with the MASSIVE refugee influx, and do so before winter started taking its toll. I submit we would have made a much more important and potent difference there, and it was in the strategic interests of the overall conflict to do so, which makes it a valid war fighting aim, as opposed to the direct combat role Mr Harper decided was the only way to go.

      Indeed, I was very pleasantly surprised by the response Trudeau gave last fall on this issue (his failure to speak in Parliament to the war bill on the other hand not such a fan of, to say the least) because it dealt with a serious issue regarding the massive overflow of refugees to our regional allies. He wasn’t just talking about any refugees, he was talking about those in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, who if we lose them as allies in that region leaves the west with pretty much none that can be seen as at all trustworthy (Saudi Arabia is not IMHO at all a trustworthy ally whatever we claim diplomatically). We need to aid in their stability, that is an important military as well as social goal in this fight against ISIS/ISIL, and to pretend only the direct combat role is a worthy role, well it shows remarkable lack of strategic thinking IMHO. We need better strategic thinking to win these kinds of conflicts, and this is where Harper massively fails IMHO and much to my surprise Trudeau may actually have some ability (I still need to see a lot more before I am comfortable actually feeling at all certain about it, but to me it is a very pleasant surprise given what we have seen over the past decade).

      So thank you again for one of the best most serious substantive remarks I have seen anywhere in some time on this issue, and not just about what Trudeau said either. It is nice to see that still out there, we need more of that kind of thinking and discussion, not less and only jingoistic cheer-leading which seems to have in some circles become the only way to approach such serious issues.

  11. kre8tv says:

    Not sure I see the smoke or the fire in this clip. But I do agree on this: Trudeau is vulnerable on the security file. The Cons know it and I suspect the only reason they’ve kept their powder relatively dry so far is that they have something planned for an ad buy. And since this next election campaign is pretty much going to be an eight month affair, who knows when that will pop up.

    But when it does, maybe you’ll be telling me “told ya so!”

  12. Michael says:

    When they are deciding who to vote for, this will be way down on the list,if it’s even on the list, for the average voter. This issue plays well for conservatives, but they weren’t going to JT anyway.

    As someone once said, it’s about the economy. If the economy is doing well people will vote for the government. They will see current government pokcy as working. If the economy is so-so, people will be averse to change. Better the devil you know. Those with jobs will say, if a new guy comes in he may change things too much, and I’ll lose my job. If the economy is in the tank, people will vote for the opposition. They figure, no matter what the new guy does it couldn’t be any worse, might as well try something different. For a real world example see Ontario provincial election 2014.

    • cgh says:

      If he can’t deal coherently with foreign affairs, why would we believe he has any substance on the economy?
      Particularly after his London-Windsor contradictions?

  13. Lance says:

    Justin Trudeau, London, January 20, 2015 – “Southwestern Ontario must transition away from a manufacturing based economy and develop more technology and economic innovation.”

    Justin Trudeau, Windsor, January 2015 – “We talked about the need for the federal government to step up on manufacturing and give support to local jobs and prosperity”.


    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      Here’s the problem with that: It’s not indicative of playing from different song books relative to where he happens to be. It’s indicative of the reality that he pretty much hasn’t got a clue about any of it, so he finds himself constantly winging it on the fly, almost from one sentence to the next.

      As a regular person, no big deal.

      But as Prime Minister of Canada? Scares the bloody hell out of me. Particularly so considering the times and the challenges facing both our nation and the world about us.

      • Terence Quinn says:

        Big Al, so he is acting Prime ministerial then. look at how many times Harper has called the budget a done deal but cannot seem to produce it.

  14. davie says:

    Brecht: “We attacked a foreign people and treated them like rebels. As you know, it is alright to treat barbarians barbarically. It’s the desire to be barbaric that makes governments call their enemies barbarians.”

    Islamic State in Syria, under its previous names, was accused of committing some terrible crimes. That was no problem. But when they grabbed some oil facilities that were invested in by western based oil industry giants, then we began to get the pictures and the accusations of genocide. We said we would attack them. To make sure we bombed them, the clever jihadists sent us videos of beheading westerners. We attacked them.

    JT made the mistake of thinking he could explain the complications of situation in an interview from which clips would be sliced.

    The PM, on the other hand, was great, saying “If they shoot at us, we will shoot back and kill them.” He could have been opener for an American movie depicting heroic Kyle the Saracen Slayer. And the PM did this at the same time we are selling a few billion dollars worth of civilian controlling armoured vehicles to a state that beheads people by law.

    JT has to learn that making war on people on the other side of the planet is simple. They are bad, we are good. (That is, if he wants to get the votes of decent, patriotic Canadians.)

    • Terence Quinn says:

      Shooting back is ok if you had told parliament that was the game plan. I heard the phrase “no boots on the ground” from harper in the HOC. Did he lie then……damn right he did

      • davie says:

        Yes, I saw on tv that exchange in the House of Commons. He had plenty of time in his answer to add the detail about being in combat zones.

  15. Lance says:

    WK – Me! I like naps, like he did!

    Yes! And a nice Romeo y Julieta accompanied with a nice snifter of Dvin. The naps might follow a bit after, but what the hell, there’s always a special occasion somewhere! 🙂

  16. wsam says:

    Iran stands a good chance to ending up the big winners out of all this. (And Hezbollah to a lesser extent as it is more heavily involved in defending Assad in Syria, alongside Iran’s Revolutionary Guards). Iran ’s revolutionary guards are the ones who prevented ISIS from taking Bagdad. They have been doing most of the fighting and dying. Iran is also arming and training most of the Shia militias which are springing up as well as providing leadership. Iran is doing this because the Shia part of Iraq is its client. This is also why the Sunni parts of Iraq welcomed ISIS, the Shia-led government in Bagdad was actively persecuting Iraq Sunnis. That is why Obama was so loathe to get involved. Hurting ISIS helps Iran.

    Additionally, Nato ally Turkey has been letting would-be jihadists stream across its borders. Why? Many in Turkey sympathize with Iraq’s Sunni minority. The Turks want Assad gone, however, and according to Seymour Hersch in the London Review of Books, they supplied nerve gas to a Turkish-funded Syrian jihadi group in order to force Obama to intervene against Assad. This backfired.


    The Turks hate Assad because he helped the Kurds. We are reluctant to help the Kurds because the US wants to keep pretending the Iraqi state still exists. Iraq ceased to exist about a year after the invasion. The Kurds are landlocked.

    A coherent foreign-policy would seem to be alignment with Iran – since on the issue of ISIS our interests intersect. But Iran is the West’s official bad guy so we don’t, instead supporting the Saudis. The Saudis have been supporting ISIS-like jihadi groups in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere for years. For example, in Bahrain, a Saudi client (a Sunni monarchy and military rule over a Shia-majority populace), the army is said to be openly supportive of ISIS, to the point of printing and distributing ISIS-inspired propaganda.

    This is all going to get much worse and Canada is now in the thick of that worsening.

    Luckily Canada has a Prime Minister who suffers from such acute moral clarity.

  17. wsam says:

    Justin Trudeau should have evoked the Powell Doctrine (previously the Weinberger Doctrine).

    The Powell Doctrine lists questions that should be positively answered before pursuing military action:

    1.Is a vital national security interest threatened?
    2.Do we have a clear attainable objective?
    3.Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
    4.Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
    5.Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
    6.Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
    7.Is the action supported by the American (Canadian) people?
    8.Do we have genuine broad international support.

    If Bush the Younger had listened to Powell and adhered to his pragmaticism we would have been spared the invasion of Iraq and the west would not be in the mess we presently are. Maybe it is time we stop making things worse … Harper did say Canada was no longer going to go along to get along. Which is what we are doing at present in Iraq.

  18. I’m a Canadian veteran.
    Sometimes countries have to go to war to stop unspeakable evil.
    Trudeau is talking through his ass.

    • davie says:

      I am not a vet. But I grew up in the military through the 1940’s and 1950’s. I do not think that claiming to be in the military, or being a vet is substantiation for an argument on foreign policy unless that vet or military person connects the dots between his or her experience and the question at hand.

  19. mary says:

    Trudeau is saying that in the case of an overseas “threat” like ISIS, he’ll only send us in if we are going to have a quick victory, and only if it is an important contribution, not a symbolic one.

    Sounds perfect to me.

    Those of you aging Liberals who disagree, might want to consider that you have become Conservatives in your old age…

    • Nic Coivert says:

      I agree.

      And expecting that JT’s answer can also be an answer for all other wars Canada has been in is patently absurd. One answer don’t fit all…

    • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Oh Mary Mary – sigh. There is no such thing as a “quick victory” here. So does that mean that we back out of our commitment there?

      Also, as an “aging Liberal” I sure think the youth have made a huge mistake.

    • Peter says:

      he’ll only send us in if we are going to have a quick victory, and only if it is an important contribution, not a symbolic one.

      This debate is starting to get very strange. I don’t know whether you consider bombers and pilots doing bombing runs to be a mere symbolic contribution, but are you saying we shouldn’t be there unless we can single-handedly dispatch them summarily, in which case let’s roll, but if we can’t we should stay home and leave the mess to others? And doesn’t JT’s call for humanitarian aid like help with winter camping (really, that’s embarrassing!!) a call for a symbolic contribution? I mean, there is an actual war going on.

      I think those quotation marks betray you. Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow fit all this into that old comfy paradigm of Western imperialism attacking a popular third world reform movement and denying them self-determination? ISIS as agrarian reformers seeking social justice? Pretty tough with theocratic mass rapists and murderers, isn’t it? If you think it’s futile and we should stay out of it and leave these people to their fates, you should say so, not pretend the problem is we can’t match the power of the U.S. Air Force.

  20. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Historians will prove which side is right. As for the West’s last two foreign adventures, Iraq and Afghanistan, both are basically unmitigated disasters after fouteen years of let’s have at it.

    Wow, more of the same likely on the way in Iraq and Syria.

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      No, historians will NOT prove which side is right.

      History is usually written in favour of the victors.

      The dropping of two nuclear bombs on civilian populations was and is never right.

      • Doug says:

        You do realize the casualties that would have been incurred by invading Japan right? Every single Purple heart the United States has handed out since 1945 was actually made for the expected wounded lists from the planned invasion of the main Japanese islands. Previous experience had shown the Japanese Army and Navy would fight on to 90% plus casualties something virtually unheard of in the entire history of humanity. At Tarawa they fought until they’d received 99%+ casualties.

        In Okinawa there were mass Civilian suicides and hopeless charges which was just a taste of what would have happened to the main islands. Many more Japanese would have died had the Americans and Allies invaded rather than the bombs dropped. I have heard good arguments for not dropping the 2nd bomb but the 1st one awful as it sounds probably saved a pile of Japanese lives by helping to convince the Japanese cabinet and Emperor to surrender(The Soviets entering the Pacific war also scared the shit out of the leaders of Japan).

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:


          Sad to say but I agree. Wasn’t there an estimate that one or two million casualties would result subsequent to a land invasion? Couple that with Hirohito urging them to fight on in hopes of obtaining better surrender terms and one realizes why Truman dropped the bombs.

          Japanese determination to fight on was unprecedented — that’s why it became necessary to drop the bomb at Nagasaki.

  21. Michael says:

    The reality that everyone here fails to acknowledge is that no matter what Canada does it will have little consequence on ISIS or the “war on terror”. We could send over our entire military and it would not amount to a hill of beans. All of this tough talk by Harper and conservatives is just jingoistic chest thumping in an attempt to secure votes.

    • Lance says:

      I don’t like the fact that we have to fight at all, but sometimes we are left with little choice. It has nothing to do with “chest thumping”. The point is that we either fight them over there or fight them over here. What would you choose?

    • Joe says:

      While true on its face your analogy falls apart the minute everyone takes that approach.

      Let’s play baseball shall we? The left fielder is the weakest player on the team so he stays home. This makes the right fielder the weakest player on the team so he stays home. This leaves the shortstop as the weakest player on the team so he stays home. In very sort order the opposing team wins by default.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      As Smelter Rat would say: bingo.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      I would argue that Harper has no choice but to go on the offensive given the fact that a large group of active and retired military have lost faith with the Conservative government. Fence mending is now the order of the day but it will be an uphill battle — veterans will not forget that life-time pensions have been abolished, veterans offices have been closed and services limited.

      The love talk has always been a constant factor since 2006. Veterans are now rendering judgment on the Harper government and so far, it isn’t a pretty sight.

      Borden’s unity government survived thanks to the boys overseas. Harper does not have that level of appreciation within today’s military.

  22. Jim Beattie says:

    Congrats Kinsella, you, with this article, just added a qualifying reference to the Con attack ads that Arthur J. FinKelstein, down in his New York office, is finalizing for the Cons to run on Trudeau — whose side are you on!

    If you think you know so much about WWI & WWII and the Middle East wars, then you need to straighten out your logic pattern and read the John Loftus book, The Secret War Against the Jews, where he, at least, corrected about 1/8th of the corrupted public history of WWII and the Middle East wars.

    Loftus is the only author ever to have had a peek at the 20×1 acre underground vaults that store the classified history of the United States government. Even at that, he only got right what happened to the Jews post WWII and never got to the Rockefeller syndicate the launched the Nazi program, nurtured it to fruition and then profited off both sides of the war.

    I challenge Kinsella to read that book or watch the video by this Jewish fellow, who thought he knew everything- about-everything until he interviewed Loftus: http://bit.ly/1EieeO8 .

    For that matter Trudeau needs to look at that book as well.

    And that wonderful “ISIS” phenomena was started none by other than the CIA who have fomented every Middle East conflict since WWII.

    After all, who can forget that cavalcade of white pick-up trucks: http://bit.ly/1qdvEnA , with those guys dressed in black gowns standing in the back of them waving their flags and AK-47’s, which was BRANDED into the conscience of North Americans by the corporate controlled Western Media — a depiction to infer that cavalcade was crossing the Syrian/Iraq border and was going to invade Iraq! The only problem was that the CIA handlers forgot to deactivate those “daytime running lights” on those trucks so the Iraqi’s wouldn’t see them coming from afar!

    Yes, Rockefeller lawyer, Allen Welsh Dulles who (sat on the board at Germany’s IG Fargen, who set up shop in Switzerland where he received German Generals throughout the war, who arranged for the safe haven of the key Nazi’s into the U.S. and South America, who organized the CIA in 1951 and became its first director, who was fired by Kennedy over the Bay of Pigs fiasco, who was then assigned to the Warren Commission to control the cover-up of the Kennedy assassination) for some strange reason does not show up in the EDUCATIONAL history books in North America!!!

    So, stop writing and referencing WWI &WWII when you have absolutely no knowledge of what really happened other other than the actual fighting, the bravery of those who fought and its aftermath of remembrance.

    As for Harper, he BEGGED the U.S. to get into Iraq knowing full well that he could play his “Charlie Harper War” movie over and over in a election year — it is a pity that you in the media can’t figure that out and get to the bottom of it.

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