POLITICS

Post-ISIS responsibilities up to Iraqis and Syrians, says Jason Kenney

03/28/2015 05:00 EDT | Updated 05/27/2015 05:59 EDT
Canada's defence minister says whatever happens in Iraq and Syria once the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, is defeated will be up to local populations, not Canada.

"At the end of the day, the Iraqis are going to have to take responsibility for their own security," Jason Kenney told CBC Radio's The House. "And the same is true in Syria. We Canadians are not in a position to go and to try to create a model democracy in Syria."

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper laid out his plan to expand Canada's existing mission in both scope and length, saying he wants support for an air mission against ISIS which would include strikes on targets inside Syria. 

Kenney told host Evan Solomon that the government's preference is to "develop a truce in the Syrian civil war" that will eventually lead to a responsible government that respected human rights, different faiths and diversity.

Even if he doesn't want Canada to be too closely involved in the future of the region beyond humanitarian aid, the defence minister argues Canada had to intervene when it did. 

"The alternative if the allied countries had not begun to take action against ISIL both in Iraq and eastern Syria, what we would have today is an organization in control probably of most of Iraq and roughly half of Syria with its own energy revenues. With its own economy. With its own pseudo-state. Imagine the destructive power of a so-called caliphate like this," Kenney said.

The leader of the Green Party cautions that not worrying about what comes next could have devastating consequences.

Elizabeth May told The House that what's happened to Libya post-intervention shows that military actions can have unintended consequences.

"I believe we made matters worse in Libya," May told host Evan Solomon. "We run a very high degree of risk of making things worse by emboldening ISIS, by creating greater recruits to ISIS," May said.

The Green Party leader also said that targeting ISIS may end up helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and further destabilize the region.

CBC Radio's The House airs Saturdays on CBC Radio One at 9 a.m. and on SiriusXM Ch. 169.