Should Stephen Harper follow the lead of his international allies — specifically U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama — and recall Parliament to debate a potential attack in Syria?
Earlier this week, the British Parliament debated and eventually rejected Cameron's motion for U.K. military involvement — in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime
On Saturday, Obama called for direct military action in Syria but said that he would also seek Congressional authorization to do so.
"I have decided that the United States should take military action Syrian regime targets. This would not be an open ended intervention, we would not put boots on the ground. Instead our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope," the President said during a press conference on the White House lawn.
"I have made a second decision. I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress. For the last several days we've heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree."
Calls for Harper to reconvene Parliament for a debate on Syria have been muted since last Thursday. On that day, during a press conference on another topic, the Prime Minister said that, while the government supports its allies in responding to the chemical attack, it had "no plans" for a "Canadian military mission."
But there are still some that feel that our MPs should be debating our "support" of a U.S. offensive.
The Toronto Star's Tim Harper argues that is what Parliament is for.
"We are not joining any potential mission, but we are backing one, and for that reason alone, Canadians deserve to hear from the men and women we sent to Ottawa to represent us," he wrote in an article published on Saturday.
Political commentator Bruce Anderson says that Canada's position needs to be clarified and debated.
"The point of a debate would [be] to let the country hear in more detail the thinking behind the PM's position (Are there some U.S. options that we would oppose; do we have a view as to whether the goal should be a change in the regime; how do we evaluate the dilemma of what we can accomplish with limited strikes?) as well as to hear the ideas of other leaders and Parliamentarians," Anderson told Yahoo Canada News in an email exchange.
"If we take the position that whatever a majority government decides need not be debated because as a practical matter they can do what they want, there would be very few debates on anything."
And former Brian Mulroney chief of staff Norman Spector says that in light of Obama's speech (where the President asks the international community to "stand publicly behind our action"), Harper should recall the House to express Parliament's support.
"Yes, recall House to express political support for Obama’s limited attack on Syria, no boots on the ground etc.," Spector told Yahoo Canada.
[ Related: Anatomy of a potential Syria military operation ]
To their credit, the Conservatives have briefed the opposition leaders about the Syrian conflict. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has been in recent contact with Justin Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair and Elizabeth May.
But is that enough?
Should Harper recall Parliament? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)
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