Ken Pole's picture
Trudeau convenes Incident Response Group
Posted on Jan 08, 2020

As tensions in the Middle East continue to grow, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened the government’s Incident Response Group on 7 January 2020. The newly established IRG, first announced on 28 Aug 2019, is generally tasked with reviewing national crises or foreign developments of direct relevance to Canada. A government official was quoted by the National Post explaining that the people in attendance at these meetings "is dependent on the topic that they’re discussing.”

Public confirmation of the group’s meetings are rare; the last such bulletin from the Prime Minister’s Office was in October 2018 in the aftermath of the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office confirmed that the latest meeting included Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and their deputy ministers. Also attending were General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff, as well as National Security and Intelligence Advisor David Morrison, and Privy Council Clerk Ian Shugart.

“Canadians can be proud of the important work that our troops and diplomats are doing to fight Daesh and stabilize Iraq,” said the PMO in a brief statement, referring to the currently suspended Canadian-led NATO training mission in Iraq and Canada’s participation in the ongoing U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State militants.

The PMO went on to say that the government is “deeply concerned” about Iranian missile attacks on two Iraq bases used by the U.S. and Iraq. “The Canadian Armed Forces has been able to confirm that all personnel deployed in Iraq are safe.

“The safety of the women and men who serve is our top priority, and we are taking all necessary precautions for the security of our civilian, military, and diplomatic personnel. We continue to strongly urge de-escalation across the region. We are in constant contact with our international partners, and are briefing members of the Opposition parties.”

Earlier in the day, Trudeau spoke with several foreign leaders, including King Abdullah II of Jordan to discuss “the broader implications for the region” in the aftermath of the U.S. assassination of Iraqi General Qassem Soleimani and other senior officials in Baghdad.

“They called for de-escalation and dialogue, and underlined the importance of fostering stability and security in Iraq,” the PMO said, adding that the PM and the Jordanian monarch “agreed on the need to remain focused on fighting Daesh” and “looked forward to their continued collaboration to promote regional stability in the Middle East.”

– Ken Pole