As the international tension surrounding Syria continues to mount, Burnaby politicians are weighing in on what Canada's role should be in the conflict, while U.S. president Barack Obama pushes for military intervention.
Burnaby-New Westminster NDP MP Peter Julian is calling on Canada to step up humanitarian aid.
"My concerns about Syria is Canada should be playing a much more significant humanitarian role. The whole issue of family reunification - we have Syrians in Burnaby and New Westminster, and they are really concerned about their loved ones, and they are not able to apply to have their loved ones reunited," he told the NOW. "This is a real concern because of the chaos in the immigration system caused by a whole series of bad decisions made by Mr. Harper's government."
Harper has said he will prorogue Parliament till October, but Julian wants the Prime Minister to call Parliament back to consider the Syrian question, as the U.K. has done.
"Among our allies, the United Kingdom, their prime minister - to his credit - called parliament back. We certainly believe the same thing, that Parliament needs to be consulted on these issues before any decisions are taken," Julian said.
The Syrian government, led by president Bashar al-Assad, has come under international scrutiny following a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21. The U.S.estimates that more than 1,400 people were killed, including hundreds of children. Syria's president is blaming jihadists, while the U.S. blames the Syrian government. Meanwhile, U.N. weapons inspectors, who were shot at by snipers during their investigation, have yet to complete their report.
Harper has indicated that Canada has no military plan in the works but that the government would support our allies who may be contemplating force. On Wednesday, Obama gained support for military intervention in Syria from a Senate panel, but the resolution still needs to go before the full Senate and the House of Representatives.
Kennedy Stewart, a political scientist and New Democrat MP for Burnaby-Douglas, said he's heard from Syrian constituents, and the situation is complex.
"I've had a couple of delegations come to my office, and because they have a lot of information from on the ground and different perspectives, you get a lot more detail than what you read in the newspaper or see on TV," he said. "The complexity is enormous. The way it's portrayed sometimes in the media is bad guys versus good guys. They are so mixed up and mingled even within families. That makes it extremely complicated, and it's tough to make a snap decision on what to do."
Stewart echoed Julian's call for the prime minister to hold a debate in Parliament, as the refugee numbers are growing, and aid is not making it to some camps or countries, such as Jordan.
"Countries are inclined to work with some countries, and not other countries, and that's one reason we should be recalling Parliament," he said. "Then we can get the information from foreign affairs ministers and defence ministers about those kind of details to help us decide."
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