Monday 17 March 2003
Prime Minister Jean Chr tien said Monday that Canada would not participate in any war on Iraq without UN approval.
"We have always maintained that we need UN approval [to act]," he said, adding that this has always been Canada's position.
The Prime Minister made the statement in the House of Commons in Question Period, and it was greeted with thunderous applause from Liberal MPs.
"If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the Security Council, Canada will not participate," Mr. Chr tien said.
His comments came after the United States, Britain and Spain announced they had decided not to put a UN Security Council resolution authorizing force to a vote because of threats it would be vetoed by France.
Three Canadian navy ships are in the Arabian Gulf conducting escort and surveillance in the war on terrorism, unconnected to the Iraq operation, and the Prime Minister said they would stay on their current mission.
Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper asked the Prime Minister whether Canadian troops currently serving with American and British units on exchange would stay at their posts, even if they may be participating in an attack on Iraq.
Mr. Chr tien said those troops will remain where they are. He that there is only a small number, involved in such things as surveillance. They have made a commitment to their allied forces, he said, and they will respect this commitment.
The Prime Minister also told the House that if there is a war, Canada will help Iraq and the victims of war, providing aid and reconstruction.
Earlier Monday, a spokesman for Mr. Chr tien said that Canada was "disappointed" that diplomacy appeared to have failed to resolve the Iraq crisis.
"We're obviously disappointed that diplomacy hasn't worked and that new timelines weren't given ... for the inspectors to do their work," chief spokesman Jim Munson told Canadian Press.
"There appears to be no avenue now for a diplomatic route," Mr. Munson said. "Those routes seem to have been shut down."
Canada's efforts at the United Nations to find a compromise resolution on Iraq appeared quashed.
The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1441 on Nov. 8, ordering Iraq to surrender its chemical and other weapons of mass destruction and submit to inspections or face "serious consequences."
And while balking at full Canadian military involvement, Mr. Chr tien has consistently agreed with the Americans and British that, while preferable, a second Security Council resolution was not necessary to sanction war.
Through UN Ambassador Paul Heinbecker, Mr. Chr tien sought a compromise deadline of March 28. But the British came back with their own U.S.-backed compromise resolution that failed to go anywhere.
In an American television interview March 9, Mr. Chr tien contended U.S. President George W. Bush had already won the war, saying the mere presence of a quarter million American and British troops had forced Iraqi compliance.
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