Campaigning party leaders play up security credentials on 9-11 anniversary

A campaigning Conservative Leader Stephen Harper used Friday’s 14th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. to highlight his government’s national-security credentials.

OTTAWA — A campaigning Conservative Leader Stephen Harper used Friday’s 14th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. to highlight his government’s national-security credentials.

Speaking to an election rally in Victoriaville, Que., Harper flatly asserted that voters face a choice between “security and risk” next month at the polls.

The incumbent Conservatives have been buffeted by an international refugee crisis over the past week, and Harper has been trying to stress the terrorist threat millions of displaced Syrian and Iraqi civilians pose, and hence the need for rigorous screening of newcomers to Canada.

“On Oct. 19, you will have to choose between experience and the unknown, between security and risk,” Harper told a crown of partisans.

“Security and experience, that’s what Conservative candidates offer.”

The New Democratic Party under Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have been hammering the government for failing to speed up the refugee-resettlement process, while Harper has countered by playing to fears of terrorist infiltrators.

With the 78-day election campaign now past its midpoint, the three major federal parties remain locked in a tight three-way battle in most public opinion polls and are trying to separate themselves from the field.

The anniversary of the world-shaking 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington gave Harper an opportunity to remind voters of the subsequent war in Afghanistan — a “difficult and costly campaign,” he said in French, but one that means Afghanistan is “no longer a base for terrorism against us.”

Nonetheless, he said, the threat remains — a reference to two deadly attacks on Canadian soldiers last fall in Canada. He then pitched his party’s wish to keep up air strikes against fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL.

Canada has a half-dozen fighter jets flying bombing missions in Iraq and Syria, and several dozen special-forces military trainers working with Kurdish fighters in Iraq to fight the militants — a commitment that currently extends to March.

A new iPolitics poll Friday from Ekos Research suggested the Conservative message is in their supporters’ comfort zone — and may chew into the Liberal flank.

The survey found 69 per cent of respondents who identified as Conservative supporters felt Canada should “focus on the military mission against ISIS,” rather than on humanitarian aid. It’s noteworthy that 37 per cent of self-identified Liberal supporters agreed.

The automated telephone poll of 2,677 respondents, which carries a margin of error of 1.9 percentage points, also found that 88 per cent of Conservative respondents felt the current target for Syrian refugees is “about right” or too generous — and 49 per cent of Liberal respondents agreed.

It may help explain the message Harper continues to pound home.

“As long as the most violent and barbarous individuals in the world are committing massacres, as long as they’re happy to boast about it, and as long as they continue to threaten to do the same things to Canada and Canadians, this Conservative government will remain in the international coalition fighting ISIS,” he said in Victoriaville.

Mulcair, campaigning in Edmonton, said Canada does indeed have a role to play in combating terrorism, but said the government should focus on stopping the flow of arms and money to the region as well as combating radicalization at home.

He noted the Conservative government has made Canada the only NATO country that’s failed to ratify a United Nations treaty on the trade in arms.

Harper, it should be noted, pledged an additional $10 million over five years on Friday to the Kanishka project — a federal initiative aimed at countering “root causes” of terrorism and radicalization in Canada.

Mulcair also defended Fin Donnelly, the NDP incumbent in a B.C. riding who helped publicize the Canadian connection to drowned Syrian three-year-old Alan Kurdi, the tragic poster child of the humanitarian crisis.

Donnelly has been blamed for erroneous reports of the Kurdi family’s Canadian refugee appeals, but Mulcair said the MP had been advocating in writing for the whole extended Kurdi family.

“He was doing an amazing job of representing people in his riding, doing his best to save that family,” Mulcair said. “That’s what MPs do.”

In Burnaby, B.C., Trudeau criticized the Conservatives for “playing up the politics of division, of attack or of fear.”

The Liberals managed to protect Canadians’ security while balancing that with the country’s rights and freedoms immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, Trudeau said.

He also recounted his own experience teaching Grade 9 and 10 students at a Vancouver-area school on the morning of the attacks.

“The questions they asked are not so different from a lot of questions people are asking today: about the nature of world we’re growing up in and the kind of future we’re building,” the Liberal leader said.

Creating a safer world while standing up for Canadian values is, he said, “what we have to keep focused on in the coming years.”

Just Posted

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

A Comox Valley 55+ baseball team isa being organized for the 2021 season. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
18U AAA Carstar Braves start season strong

The Red Deer Carstar 18U AAA Carstar Braves started the Baseball Alberta… Continue reading

(Contributed image).
Online poetry reading to benefit Red Deer women experiencing period poverty

The Period Promise Poetry Powerhouse is a central Alberta collective of some… Continue reading

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

OTTAWA — Annamie Paul is firing back against the coterie of party… Continue reading

Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan leaves the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Bill to implement UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clears Senate

OTTAWA — A landmark piece of Liberal legislation aimed at harmonizing Canada’s… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) flips a shot on New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Russian goalies highlight Lightning-Islanders series

NEW YORK — Semyon Varlamov is the wily veteran, coming off a… Continue reading

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime reacts during his ATP Tour Singles, Men, Round of 16 tennis match against Switzerland's Roger Federer in Halle, Germany, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Friso Gentsch-dpa via AP
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Roger Federer in second round of Noventi Open

HALLE, Germany — Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime earned one of the biggest victories… Continue reading

A course official keeps out of the sun on the seventh green during a practice round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A different US Open than imagined at Torrey Pines

The spectacular ocean vistas will fill TV screens as usual, along with… Continue reading

A commuter pumps gas into their vehicle at a Esso gas station in Toronto on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Statistics Canada will say this morning how fast prices rose in May compared to the same month one year earlier amid expectations of a hot inflation figure for the second month in a row. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Annual inflation rate climbs to 3.6 per cent in May, highest in a decade

OTTAWA — Prices across the country rose at their fastest annual rate… Continue reading

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

OTTAWA — Better protections for the rights of air travellers, immediate refunds… Continue reading

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson speaks to media during the Liberal cabinet retreat at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. Wilkinson says Ottawa will step in to conduct assessments of new coal mines that could release the contaminant selenium.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Sudoma
Ottawa to review new steelmaking coal projects in Alberta’s foothills for selenium

The federal government will step in to conduct an environmental review of… Continue reading

Most Read