ISIS, joint Canada-U.S. security top agenda at security forum
The Halifax International Security Forum confronts rising global security concerns
November 23, 2014, 7:13 PM AST
Last updated November 24, 2014, 1:17 PM AST
The threat posed by ISIS to both the Middle East and Western countries was one of the central topics for discussion among delegates at the Halifax International Security Forum this weekend.
Sen. John McCain, one of several U.S. senators in attendance, said during the opening panel: “There’s very little doubt about what the intent of ISIS is.” He made reference to the ominous statement by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: “I’ll see you in New York,” noting that “Mr. Baghdadi isn’t known for his sense of humour.”
Peter Van Praagh, the president of the security forum, noted in his opening remarks that the discussions were being held “in the wake of acts of terrorism here in Canada.” He framed his comments against the backdrop of the ascendancy of China, Russia and Islamic extremism, noting that the status quo created by the West is increasingly being called into question.
The discussion “Fortress North America” sought to tackle the question of how Canada and the U.S. can jointly rise to the challenge of such threats.
That threat found its way to the forum over the weekend when ISIS militants responded to some participants of the forum on social media. Throughout the proceedings they attempted to circulate a video of British captive, John Cantile, an action noted by the forum’s president Peter Van Praagh in a statement.
Security has always been an issue of utmost importance to Canada, said Justice Minister Peter MacKay during a discussion. But he noted that Canadians are becoming more cognizant of both domestic and international threats following the recent events in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
“[The events were] a wake-up call for the fact that Canada is certainly not immune from terrorist attacks,” MacKay said at the forum this weekend.
The findings of a poll conducted by Ipsos, a global research company, in collaboration with the Security Forum were released on Friday. They suggest the citizens of the 23 countries polled believe the world is more dangerous than in 2013, a sentiment that is shared by 60 per cent of Canadians.
“The findings suggest to us that Canadians and Americans are looking for leadership to address today’s global threats,” said Van Praagh.
This year the Forum brings together more than 300 delegates from more than 60 countries, including representatives from China, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, India and others, who came together to discuss the most pressing defence and security issues facing the world today.
The conference’s Canadian representatives include Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. Among the international delegates are the former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s current Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Jean-Paul Paloméros.
This year’s forum also welcomes the largest American congressional delegation to visit Canada. The nine-member delegation is led by U.S. senators John McCain and Tim Kaine.
Peter MacKay, who’s been the driving force behind the forum since its inception in 2009, opened the forum alongside Nicholson on Friday.
“Canada’s role in the world is on full display at the only forum of its kind in North America,” said MacKay, in an opinion piece he penned on Friday.
One of the key themes from this year’s discussions was the development of a common Canada-U.S. defence strategy in the face of new global threats.
Delegates stressed the need to break down barriers that prevent Canadian and U.S agencies working together, with Nicholson urging “Let’s do it.”