U.S. is asking Canada for additional help in Middle East, Harper reveals

UNITED NATIONS — Canada will soon be weighing the possibility of an extended military role in the Middle East, Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicated Wednesday. Harper said he has just recently received a request from the U.S. government for further Canadian involvement in the fight against Islamist rebels.

UNITED NATIONS — Canada will soon be weighing the possibility of an extended military role in the Middle East, Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicated Wednesday.

Harper said he has just recently received a request from the U.S. government for further Canadian involvement in the fight against Islamist rebels.

“We have to have some additional debate within our government,” he said Wednesday during a question-and-answer session in New York before an audience of U.S. business leaders.

“The government of Canada will make a decision on that very shortly.”

When pressed about the possible new engagement, Harper declined to offer details because the U.S. government “didn’t make the letter public.”

But he did say the world can’t allow terrorists to gain safe havens like the one that has developed in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

A government official, not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said the U.S. request has been part of a natural progression of events and came as no surprise to the government.

“We’ve been working closely with the Americans, who have been trying to build a coalition for quite some time,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We’ve been involved in those discussions.”

The official said the Canadian government has always made it clear it “that it would be prepared to do more as requests came in.”

Harper will need to discuss the matter further with his cabinet, and also with opposition party leaders before any decisions are made, the official added.

Wednesday’s conversation with the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief also delved into some of the sociological aspects of the fight against the al-Qaida splinter group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Some of the terrorists who carry Western passports can hardly be called Muslims; some of them apparently don’t even attend mosque, Harper said.

He also suggested that Middle Eastern hostility to the West is nothing new. Harper said there’s been a constituency for that since the Crusades.

At that point the editor-in-chief, Gerard Baker, interjected: “Of course they had a point, during the Crusades.”

That was just one snippet of a free-flowing conversation in New York’s financial district, where the high-profile newspaperman pressed Harper on a number of fronts.

Baker mentioned Canada’s relatively strong economic performance, but he pushed Harper on the relative weakness of some Canadian energy sectors beyond energy, and whether Canada’s recent economic performance hadn’t softened a bit.

At the end of the conversation, he was asked for advice he might offer U.S. conservatives.

Harper talked about immigrants — and how his party had turned “small-c conservatives into big-C conservatives.”

“We began our appeal by showing up,” he said. “That’s been the big transformation of politics in out country… It’s why we have come to office, and stayed in office.”

Just Posted

Alberta government to partially backstop new $2 billion dollar bitumen upgrader

CALGARY — The Alberta government is providing a $440 million loan guarantee… Continue reading

Local artists are in the running for Alberta Country Music Awards, held Sunday in Red Deer

Tickets are available to the ceremony at the Sheraton hotel

RCMP seeking suspect in school bus collision and car jacking

Two children suffered minor injuries in collision on Tuesday near Springbrook around 8 a.m.

Smaller, more affordable, lots wanted in Red Deer’s Evergreen neighbourhood

Council approves first reading of requested lot-size changes

Political shifts, sales slump cast shadow over gun industry

When gunmakers and dealers gather this week in Las Vegas for the… Continue reading

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps may need to stock up on maple… Continue reading

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

Rugby Canada Hall of Fame a family affair for hard-nosed forward Hans de Goede

Hans de Goede, a hard-nosed lock forward who captained Canada at the… Continue reading

5 burning questions ahead of the Oscar nominations

NEW YORK — The Oscars still don’t have a host, but on… Continue reading

‘Bao,’ ‘Animal Behaviour,’ ‘Weekends’ among Canadian Oscar nominees

LOS ANGELES — Several Canadians have landed Oscar nominations. The category for… Continue reading

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

Opinion: Faith in immigration must be preserved

Canada has a deserved reputation for extending its arms to newcomers, but… Continue reading

Most Read