Tuesday, September 3

Syria: Will Harper drag Canada into war?

The Leadnow.ca community exists to hold governments accountable, and Canadians deserve to have a say in any involvement our government has in Syria.

– Matthew, Emma, Stefan, Jamie and the whole Leadnow.ca team

In just days, Prime Minister Harper could drag Canada into a war in Syria — but he is refusing to recall our MPs back to Ottawa for an open debate on Canada’s involvement in the conflict.
Ask PM Harper to immediately recall Parliament for an open debate on Syria, before the violence gets worse.
Send your message

In just days, Prim Minister Harper could drag Canada into a war in Syria. Governments around the world are debating whether or not to support US military action, but PM Harper is refusing to recall our MPs back to Ottawa for an open debate on Canada’s involvement in the conflict.1,2
The civil war in Syria has already claimed over 100,000 lives.3 Just last Wednesday, over 350 people died and at least 3,600 were hospitalized after a suspected chemical attack.4 Our thoughts are with the thousands of Syrians whose lives have been devastated by the civil war.
Right now there are far more questions than answers about exactly what happened, but what is clear is that the United States is rushing ahead with plans for a military response.4 The position Canada takes is vitally important. Harper is poised to offer Canada’s political backing to the mission, but our MPs haven’t even had the chance to discuss the crisis.
In the UK, British Prime Minister David Cameron recalled his parliament earlier this week for an open debate, and cooler heads prevailed: 30 conservative MPs joined the opposition and voted against military intervention in order to let the UN weapons inspectors do their job.5
Hans Blix, the former head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, is calling for patience as weapons inspectors on the ground in Syria need time to do their work.6
Canadians overwhelmingly support peacekeeping, not war mongering, and Prime Minister Harper does not have a mandate to get us into a messy war in the Middle East with unknown consequences.Until the UN inspectors have done their job and we know exactly what happened last week in Syria, supporting any rushed military action could make a terrible situation even worse, and puts us at risk of further damaging Canada’s reputation as peacekeepers abroad.
Right now, President Obama is under massive pressure to intervene in Syria, and with the UK parliament’s decision to wait, the position Canada’s takes is now even more important. It’s essential that our MPs get back to Ottawa urgently to debate the crisis. If enough of us speak out right now, there’s a chance we can make sure the UN inspectors get the time they need to finish their work before the violence escalates further.
Parliament is still in recess for the summer, and Harper is planning to prorogue again, delaying our MPs from returning to Ottawa until October. With Parliament not even sitting, it’s up to us to hold Harper to account. TheLeadnow.ca community exists to hold governments accountable, and Canadians deserve to have a say in any involvement our government has in Syria.
The situation in Syria is complex and tragic, but the bottom line right now is that we cannot allow Harper to act unilaterally in support of US military action — he must consult Parliament, and listen to the voices of Canadians.
With hope and respect,
~Matthew, Emma, Stefan, Jamie and the whole Leadnow.ca team~
We strongly encourage you to express your own thoughts and concerns directly about the situation in Syria when you write to Prime Minister Harper and your local MP.
Here’s what some people in the Leadnow.ca community have been saying on Facebook and email already:
“These things are matters of grave importance and most certainly should at the bare minimum go through parliament for healthy debate”“Harper needs to give his head a shake, there is no need to get involved in Syria” 
“I’m unsure what I think on the larger question of whether we intervene in Syria and in what way – I’d like more information. I know what I think about Canadian armed forces deploying without Parliamentary debate though – there had better be tanks rolling over the border. Otherwise, we’ve got time for Parliament to debate this openly.” 
“The role of Canada’s military since WWII has been that of a peacekeeping force, to mediate between conflicting sides and to offer an opportunity for resolution … Canada needs to preserve it’s dignified heritage of peacekeeping”“We should not get involved in a war, but we should provide the Syrian people with food and medical assistance if need be.”

Sources[1] Opposition presses Harper over prorogation, demands Syria debate (Globe & Mail)
[2] Harper Government Won’t Recall Parliament In Light Of Syria Crisis: Report (Huffington Post)
[3] Opposition presses for weapons as Syria death toll tops 100,000 (CNN)
[4] Q & A: Syria ‘toxic attacks’ near Damascus (BBC News)
[5] Syria vote: Which Tory and Lib Dem MPs rebelled? (BBC News)
[6] Hans Blix: Whether Obama in Syria or Bush in Iraq, The US Is Not the World Police. (Huffington Post)

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