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Canada Stays out of War on Iraq

Canadian Government Position on the War on Iraq

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Dateline: 03/18/03

Canada Will Not Join the War in Iraq

Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister of Canada, has announced that Canada will not join the war on Iraq. The major reasons the Canadian Prime Minister has given are

  • there was no UN Security Council resolution on military action against Iraq

  • the diplomatic process of Iraqi disarmament was working, and might have been successful given a few more weeks

  • forcing a change in regime sets a dangerous precedent

No UN Resolution on Military Action Against Iraq

In response to a question during Question Period in the Canadian House of Commons on March 17, 2003, the Prime Minister formally stated the position of the Canadian government on the war on Iraq

    "We believe that Iraq must fully abide by the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. We have always made (it) clear that Canada would require the approval of the Security Council if we were to participate in a military campaign. Over the last few weeks the Security Council has been unable to agree on a new resolution authorizing military action. Canada worked very hard to find a compromise to bridge the gap in the Security Council. Unfortunately, we were not successful. If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the Security Council, Canada will not participate."

Disarmament of Iraq

The Prime Minister has also indicated that he felt the diplomatic process of Iraq disarmament was bringing results, and that if Iraq had had a few more weeks it might have been successful.

Canadian government policy has been to seek a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis through the UN system. The Canadian government supported UN Security Council Resolution 1441 which called for Iraqi disarmament. Canada did its best to persuade Security Council members to be flexible in deciding on the next steps and to do so with the greatest possible unity. As recently as March 11, Canada made a presentation to the Security Council suggesting the development of a prioritized list of key remaining disarmament tasks and a deadline for Iraq to implement those tasks.

Forcing a Regime Change

Prime Minister Chretien has also said that he is very uncomfortable with forcing a regime change from outside a country. He argues that only the country's people have the right to change a government, and imposing a regime from outside could set a dangerous precedent. "If we change every government we don't like in the world where do we start? Who is next?"

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