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In just days, Prime Minister Harper could drag Canada into a war in Syria.

Governments around the world are debating whether or not to support US military action, but PM Harper is refusing to recall our MPs back to Ottawa for an open debate on Canada’s involvement in the conflict. 1 2

The civil war in Syria has already claimed over 100,000 lives. 3 Just last Wednesday, over 350 people died and at least 3,600 were hospitalized after a suspected chemical attack. 4 Our thoughts are with the thousands of Syrians whose lives have been devastated by the civil war.

Right now there are far more questions than answers about exactly what happened, but what is clear is that the United States is rushing ahead with plans for a military response. 5

The position Canada takes is vitally important. Harper is poised to offer Canada’s political backing to the mission, but our MPs haven’t even had the chance to discuss the crisis.

Send a message now calling on Prime Minister Harper to immediately recall Parliament for a debate on Canada’s involvement in Syria.

Background

In the UK, British Prime Minister David Cameron recalled his parliament earlier this week for an open debate, and cooler heads prevailed: 30 conservative MPs joined the opposition and voted against military intervention in order to let the UN weapons inspectors do their job. 6

Hans Blix, the former head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, is calling for patience as weapons inspectors on the ground in Syria need time to do their work. 7

Canadians overwhelmingly support peacekeeping, not war mongering, and Prime Minister Harper does not have a mandate to get us into a messy war in the Middle East with unknown consequences. Until the UN inspectors have done their job and we know exactly what happened last week in Syria, supporting any rushed military action could make a terrible situation even worse, and puts us at risk of further damaging Canada’s reputation as peacekeepers abroad.

Right now, President Obama is under massive pressure to intervene in Syria, and with the UK parliament’s decision to wait, the position Canada’s takes is now even more important. It’s essential that our MPs get back to Ottawa urgently to debate the crisis. If enough of us speak out right now, there’s a chance we can make sure the UN inspectors get the time they need to finish their work before the violence escalates further.

The situation in Syria is complex and tragic, but the bottom line right now is that we cannot allow Harper to act unilaterally in support of US military action — he must consult Parliament, and listen to the voices of Canadians.

Notes:

  1. Opposition presses Harper over prorogation, demands Syria debate (Globe & Mail)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/opposition-presses-harper-to-recall-mps-to-debate-syrian-conflict/article13993244/
  2. Harper Government Won’t Recall Parliament In Light Of Syria Crisis: Report (Huffington Post)
    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/27/harper-syria-parliament-canada_n_3824635.html
  3. Opposition presses for weapons as Syria death toll tops 100,000 (CNN)
    http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/25/world/meast/syria-violence
  4. Q & A: Syria ‘toxic attacks’ near Damascus (BBC News)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23788674
  5. Q & A: Syria ‘toxic attacks’ near Damascus (BBC News)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23788674
  6. Syria vote: Which Tory and Lib Dem MPs rebelled? (BBC News)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23892715
  7. Hans Blix: Whether Obama in Syria or Bush in Iraq, The US Is Not the World Police. (Huffington Post)
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-gardels/hans-blix-the-united-stat_b_3819367.html

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