Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has become a “reluctant convert” to the notion that a military response in Syria is required in order to send a message that the use of chemical weapons cannot be tolerated.
While Canada now supports the current contemplation of a military response, Mr. Harper said there are no plans at the moment for involvement by the Canadian military.
Speaking with reporters in Toronto, Mr. Harper noted that he has been discussing the potential for a military response in Syria with Canadian allies, including U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande.
“Our government has been a very reluctant convert to the idea that there needs to be some Western military action regarding the Syrian situation. We have been, and remain concerned when we look at this conflict that it is overwhelmingly sectarian in nature and does not have at present any ideal or obvious outcomes,” he said.
“With that all said, in talking to our allies, we are convinced that notwithstanding our reluctance, that the risks of the international community not acting in the face of what appears to be an escalation and likely further escalation without action in the use of chemical weapons as a weapon of warfare is an extremely dangerous precedent. This is a very big risk and we do believe, and we do support, our allies who are contemplating forceful action to deal with this. That said, at the present time, the Government of Canada has no plans, we have no plans of our own, to have a Canadian military mission.”
Mr. Harper’s comments come as President Obama is personally making the case in the U.S. media for a military intervention. Meanwhile the United Nations has asked for more time in order to allow U.N. inspectors to complete their reporting. The Syrian government is denying that it used chemical weapons.
In Britain, Prime Minister Cameron has recalled Parliament to allow for a debate on the situation in Syria. Mr. Harper was asked Thursday by a reporter whether he will recall the Canadian Parliament; however the Prime Minister did not answer that question.