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

Unemployment rate and EI beneficiaries down in Central Alberta

The unemployment rate for Red Deer region and the number of people… Continue reading

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month