World Security: Is Canada Left Out?

*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of HC UToronto nor Her Campus as an organization. It is solely meant as an informative piece on recent events.*

On Wednesday, January 20, 2016 defence ministers from seven countries were invited to take part in an anti-ISIS coalition meeting.

Canada’s Harjit Sajjan was not one of them.

Reactions have been coming in from both sides: while it was shocking for some, others found the incident to be quite predictable. Nonetheless, both reactions include a little (or a lot of) disappointment. To date, Canada has demonstrated an exemplary way of handling the refugee crisis. Needless to say, people are shocked to hear that a country known as an emblem of human rights is excluded from an issue so intertwined with security.

Then again, it may have been obvious that Canada wouldn’t have a place at the meeting. Trudeau and Obama have not necessarily agreed upon a strategy to take on ISIS. Trudeau, who is pulling out six CF-18 fighter jets from the military fight against ISIS while remaining committed to training Iraqi ground troops, has clashed with many member states who think that air combat is critical as a military strategy. Unfortunately, when you clash with the United States, the ones who are leading the fight, it doesn’t seem likely that an invitation will be sent.  

Although little information has been released from Wednesday’s meeting, these two binary reactions not only show the unclarity of Canada’s role in this international effort, but also the growing division amongst our world leaders when it comes down to reaching a consensual strategy of defeating said terrorist group.

The media seems to be conflating the refugee crisis and ISIS, rather than showing how this crisis is a product of the group’s terrorism. This poses a dilemma, as it risks using the same solutions for both—very different— problems. Majority coverage in the news is the international military strategy and effort. However, we hear very little about the international organizations that are pushing societal efforts, like ENAR (European Network Against Racism). Social spending for rehabilitation and integration programs are being developed so that, instead of fighting a finished product of radicalization, cities and communities can stop those from reaching that end point.

Canada’s interest in human rights seems to be grabbing the world’s attention, once again, with its effort towards the incoming refugees and new Canadians. However, its role within security and international defence seems at a standstill.