US & Canada

Canada to withdraw fighter jets from Syria and Iraq strikes

Canadian Prime Minister designate Justin Trudeau takes part in a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, Canada, 20 October 2015. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Justin Trudeau said Barack Obama understood his commitment to ending Canada's involvement in Syria and Iraq

Canadian Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau has confirmed he will withdraw Canadian fighter jets from the air strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.

He informed US President Barack Obama of his decision hours after leading his Liberal Party to victory in the polls.

As part of his election campaign, Mr Trudeau pledged to bring home the CF-18 fighter jets that were deployed to the region until March 2016.

He has not yet given a timescale.

Justin Trudeau's Liberals swept to power in Monday's election, ending nearly a decade of Conservative rule under Stephen Harper.

Mr Trudeau, an ex-high-school teacher, is the eldest son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

Jets and refugees

In his first telephone conversation with the US president as Canada's prime minister-designate, Mr Trudeau informed Barack Obama that he would make good on his election promise to withdraw the fighter jets.

"I committed that we would continue to engage in a responsible way that understands how important Canada has a role to play in the fight against ISIL (Islamic State), but he (Barack Obama) understands the commitments I've made around ending the combat mission," he told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday.

However, he said he would keep Canadian military trainers in northern Iraq, the AFP news agency reports.

Mr Trudeau has also vowed to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year - a move previously rejected by his predecessor Stephen Harper, who took a much harder line on the issue.

He also quipped that President Obama had "teased me about my lack of grey hair, but said I'd probably get some quite soon".

Justin Trudeau looks set to improve relations with the US in other areas, especially on environmental issues.

Trudeau's to-do list

During the 11-week election campaign, the Liberal Party said it would:

  • Cut income taxes for middle-class Canadians while increasing them for the wealthy
  • Run deficits for three years to pay for infrastructure spending
  • Do more to address environmental concerns over the controversial Keystone oil pipeline
  • Take in more Syrian refugees, and pull out of bombing raids against Islamic State while bolstering training for Iraqi forces
  • Legalise marijuana

Meet Justin Trudeau

Seven key Trudeau policies

"Canada's days of being a less-than-enthusiastic actor on the climate-change file are behind us," he said on Tuesday, in reference to Stephen Harper's decision to pull Canada out of the Kyoto climate change protocol in 2011 - the first country to do so.

The White House said in a statement on Tuesday that President Obama looked forward to working on climate policy with Mr Trudeau, who has pledged to set targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Ties are also likely to improve over plans for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would send Canadian oil south across the border. President Obama was reluctant to approve the proposal, which angered Stephen Harper who said it would create jobs for Canadians.

Mr Trudeau, who supports the plans, has said he is willing to work with the US to address some of the environmental concerns.

Speaking earlier to supporters, Mr Trudeau addressed concerns that under Conservative rule "Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years".

But, he continued, "on behalf of 35 million Canadians, we're back".

His Liberal Party began the election campaign in third place but now has a majority.

There is no fixed transition period under Canada's constitution. Mr Trudeau is expected to be sworn in in a few weeks' time.

Harper's miscalculations

Young Canadians' hopes