Open letter to PMJT

Dear Prime Minister,

By now we all know about the attacks by Daesh on civilians in Beirut and Paris. We also know, and have known, that Daesh continues to wreak havoc in Iraq and Syria and to execute people every day. Slaughter is nothing new to them. We should not only now be paying attention to it.

Recently, I have seen many calls for Canada to change the foreign policy stance that was set out in the Liberal platform and that you have shown every indication of following. I have seen calls for you to change your mind about bombing and to toughen Canada’s response to terrorism. I have even seen calls to "put boots on the ground," that facile phrase usually uttered by those who will never have to create an effective strategy for those boots and whose own boots will remain safely (so far) in Canada.

No one seems to know what will truly be effective against Daesh. After bombing, including by Canadian forces, and fighting on the ground for years, Daesh is still a viable fighting force holding territory and pushing beyond it. The current flurry of cries are all of the "do something" variety. There is no question that a response is required. But a poor response would be a mistake.

I trust you and your government to hold to the principles you articulated so eloquently—and strongly—in your ministerial mandate letters. I trust you to keep your head while others seem to have fallen into macho outrage.

I understand the outrage. I understand the grief. I understand the desire to "do something."

But if that something does nothing more than make us feel good, and especially if it ends up doing more harm than good, then we must resist the temptation to react and, I daresay, play into the intentions of Daesh, and instead hold to our determination to act in ways that will actually help.

One change I do urge is for Canada to cancel sales of military hardware, even light-armoured vehicles, to Saudi Arabia. Not only is that equipment used in Saudi Arabia's ongoing violation of the civil rights of its own people; it is also well known that Saudi Arabia funds Sunni extremists, all the while smiling and pretending to be our friend. We must not be in the position of helping those who repress their own people and aid those who wish to destroy others near and far.

I urge you to continue to look for effective ways of dealing with the violence of terrorism and the destruction wrought by war. I trust that you will. We must use what power we have to find ways to undercut Daesh and not just strike back at it.

However we respond, we must not lose the Canada we love just as we are starting to regain it. I think you feel the same way. Thank you.



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