OPINION: Canada must do more in wake of devastating gas attack in Syria

by | Apr 7, 2017 | Opinion

By: David Tuchman

On Tuesday, the Syrian government unleashed a devastating gas attack in a northern rebel-held territory. The carnage featured dozens of helpless children gasping for breath and even more dead.

The attack stirred worldwide condemnation but words aren’t enough to stop an increasingly confident al-Assad, Syria’s brutal dictator, who continues to get bolstered by Russia.

Among them was federal Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who said Canada is “outraged by reports of a chemical weapons attack against civilians, particularly the senseless suffering and death of children in southern Idlib, Syria.”

Is outrage enough? Seemingly, no.

Justin Trudeau has already welcomed over 25,000 refugees from Syria, yet it was overshadowed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban. It is obvious more needs to be done on our part, including the entire international community, to end the Syrian conflict.

If Trudeau was smart, he would take this as an opportunity to display Canada’s humanitarian and military strength to the world. Canada spends 0.99 per cent of its GDP on the military, according to a recent European security summit, incredibly low in comparison to other countries with similar GDP, considering that we’re one of the only countries which has helped train Syrian rebels and served with them.

If we increased our commitment by just one per cent, we could afford more equipment and soldiers which can reinforce the ones who are already there. No, we aren’t a militaristic country but one of Trudeau’s goals as Prime Minister was to restore Canada’s place in the UN Security Council. There is no better way to get into that council than showing that we have at least some military might and resolve.

I am a little biased. My brother enlisted in the Canadian Forces last year and the last thing I want to see is him deployed in the middle of a war zone where chemical weapons are being used. However, he is serving with the intention of spreading Canada’s influence around the world. It’s hard for me to argue against going to Syria to provide any sort of aid.

It also goes without saying that in order to forcefully remove al-Assad from power, an international coalition would have to be formed first.

Maybe more military intervention will create more chaos, but as we sit at a safe distance talking about it, chaos and inhuman atrocity are unfolding in front of our very eyes.