Munk Debate: light on profound differences

meme-affaires-etrangeres-rarement-influence(Ottawa) The debate on foreign policy held Monday night in Toronto highlighted profound differences between the Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and the head of Justin Trudeau Liberal Party on issues such as the continuation of the military mission in Iraq and Syria, the crisis of migrants, the fight against climate change, Canada-US relations or negotiations to conclude new treaties on free trade.

Although Foreign Affairs have rarely affected the outcome of federal elections in the past, this fourth debate of the campaign, organized by the Munk Institute in both official languages ​​to 3,000 people, resulted in sharp and snappy exchanges, often passionate and sometimes punctuated with a touch of humor, especially from Justin Trudeau, who also spoke for the first time during the debate the memory of his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who died 15 years ago day day Monday.

From the beginning

From the outset, divergences appeared on the continuation of the military mission in Iraq and Syria as well as on Canada’s response to the crisis of migrants.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper argued that Canada has adopted a “generous and balanced” policy by offering to host Syrian refugees while ensuring that they do not pose a risk to national security. He also called for the continuation of the military mission in Iraq and Syria against the armed group Islamic State, which threatens to use the territory conquered in the region to conduct terrorist attacks against Western countries, including Canada.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said his party can not support a combat mission that is not sanctioned by the UN or NATO. Canada, he argued, should focus more on humanitarian aid and more effort to accommodate more refugees. “When your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like nails,” commented Mr. Mulcair on a biting tone.

The Liberal leader Justin Trudeau split the two by saying that Canada must train the troops in Iraq and Syria to eliminate this threat, as it did in Afghanistan and work twice as hard to enter country more refugees. “Mr. Mulcair believes that we should not participate in this fight. Harper him there not a war in the Middle East to which he would not have liked to send troops, beginning with the war in Iraq in 2003 by George W. Bush. Send Western troops is not always the best solution. This often makes things worse. ”

The attacks of his opponents, Mr. Harper replied: “We can not pretend that there are no security risks. […] A government must act responsibly. He must not seek headlines in the newspapers. ”

The Harper-Obama relationship

In terms of Canada-US relations, Harper has been accused of maintaining bad relations with his US counterpart Barack Obama because he has the approval of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline a cornerstone of its foreign policy in the United States.

“Mr. Harper has lost the respect of the White House, “said Thomas Mulcair, regretting that the Conservative leader had told the United States that the controversial project was a” no-brainer “.

“The Prime Minister does not like President Barack Obama,” commented Justin Trudeau, as any prime minister, he said, should treat Canada’s relations with its southern neighbor.

“This is all an invention. Canada has good relations with the United States, “said Mr. Harper. He argued that Canada and the United States fight together against the armed group Islamic state, collaborate within NATO and notably fought together against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa.

The ATA adopted by the Harper government with Liberal support in the spring, caused sparks between Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair.

Mr. Mulcair noted that the NDP was the only party to oppose the law, he said, bullies rights and freedoms, he said. He also recalled that the NDP had also opposed the government’s decision to Pierre Trudeau to resort to the War Measures Act to quell the FLQ. This attack has piqued Mr. Trudeau.

“During the campaign, the two men (Messrs. Harper and Mulcair) attacked my father at one time or another. Let me state clearly that I am very proud to be the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. […] When talking about the legacy of my father, the first thing to emphasize is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms defines Canada as a country that defends individual liberties even when a government wants to flout. Multiculturalism, which has made Canada a stronger country because of its diversity. And bilingualism, as my father showed me, also means that one can say the same thing in French and in English! ”


The Munk Institute

The Munk Institute is an organization founded in 2008 which set up shop in Toronto and organized discussions on foreign affairs at least twice a year. This organization was founded by Peter and Melanie Munk Munk.

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