Originally published under the title "Canada Now Leads from the Rear."
When the defence ministers of France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands join U.S. Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter Wednesday in Paris to discuss the future of the fight against Islamic State, Canada will be conspicuous by it absence.
Things were different not that long ago when Canada, under former prime minister Stephen Harper, was seen by many as leading the free world in understanding the challenge humanity faces from Islamofascism.
At a time when the message "Islam is a religion of peace" was the mantra of the Bush and Obama administrations in the U.S., and of Labour and Conservative prime ministers in the U.K., Harper did not hesitate to remind the world that the major threat to humanity came from the forces of Islamism.
In an interview with CBC's Peter Mansbridge on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Harper said despite the fact there were other security concerns, "the one that I can tell you occupies the security apparatus most regularly in terms of actual terrorist threats" comes from Islamic terrorism.
In using such explicit language, Harper was among the first leaders not just in the free world, but among all the countries of the United Nations, to have the courage to speak the truth. "When people think of Islamic terrorism, they think of Afghanistan, or maybe they think of some place in the Middle East, but the truth is that threat exists all over the world," Harper said, mentioning domestic terrorism in Nigeria and home-grown Islamic radicalism in Canada, which he noted was "also something that we keep an eye on."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada's withdrawal from the US-led air campaign against ISIS in his first press conference after taking office in October.
Fast forward five years to Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, and we now see that under the new government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau our commitment to fighting Islamic terror has been so deeply compromised that the coalition of seven major nations leading the fight against Islamic State decided not to extend an invitation to Ottawa.
It would have been inconceivable in the past for Canada's defence minister not to be invited to the table. This time we were considered unworthy of a seat.
Trying to put a brave face on this diplomatic insult, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, Mississauga MP Omar Alghabra, shrugged off the rebuff, telling CBC's Power & Politics, "not being invited didn't come as a surprise" as the group of seven countries meet regularly, independently of Canada.
Unfortunately, the kind of leadership and foresight that once put Canada at the forefront of civilization's struggle to save itself from the forces of darkness, fell by the wayside when Canadians opted for style over substance in the October, 2015 federal election.
If more evidence was needed to judge the immaturity of Trudeau's leadership, it came in the wake of six Canadians dying at the hands of al-Qaida jihadi terrorists in Burkina Faso in Central Africa.
Instead of visiting the homes of the families of the deceased in Quebec, Trudeau visited a mosque in Peterborough, where he led a moment of silence and condemned the jihadi attacks as a "brutal act of violent terrorism."
Both in its crude and barbaric jihadi variety, as well as in its more finely finessed Islamist propaganda, ISIS, al-Qaida, Taliban, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab could not be happier that the once powerful voice of Canada, a NATO power and a member of the G-7, has been silenced.
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Related Topics: Muslims in Canada | Tarek Fatah
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