US embassy cable - 03OTTAWA178

CANADIAN POSITION ON IRAQ UNCHANGED

Identifier: 03OTTAWA178
Wikileaks: View 03OTTAWA178 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ottawa
Created: 2003-01-16 19:39:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL MOPS IZ CA UN
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L OTTAWA 000178 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/16/2013 
TAGS: PREL, MOPS, IZ, CA, UN 
SUBJECT: CANADIAN POSITION ON IRAQ UNCHANGED 
 
REF: (A) OTTAWA 49 (B) 02 OTTAWA 3502 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Stephen R. Kelly, 
Reasons 1.5 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Despite Prime Minister Chretien's January 15 comment 
that "the international community must speak and act through 
the UN Security Council," Canada's position on military 
participation in a potential war against Iraq is unchanged. 
Contacts at Foreign Affairs and National Defense assured us 
on January 16 that the Canadian response to our request for a 
military contribution (given to the State Department in 
December - reftels) remains the same: Canada will participate 
militarily if there is a UN-sanctioned campaign, and reserves 
judgement on participation if there is no explicit UNSC 
authorization. 
 
2. (C) Defense Minister McCallum made this position - 
including the possibility that Canada would participate in a 
campaign not endorsed by the UN - very clear in a press 
conference following his January 9 meeting with Secretary 
Rumsfeld, to the consternation of the left wing of the ruling 
Liberal Party.  Several backbench Liberal MPs complained 
afterward that Canada should only support military action 
blessed by the UNSC, and some called for debate in Parliament 
on the Canadian position.  The Prime Minister, who never 
likes to commit himself earlier than necessary on 
controversial issues, was not pleased.  He told the press 
that McCallum "replied to a hypothetical question that he has 
reflected upon and corrected since that time."  Chretien 
reaffirmed McCallum's statement that Canada would participate 
in a UNSC-blessed operation, but refused to speculate on 
whether Canada would join a campaign not endorsed by the UN. 
 
3. (C) McCallum, a professional economist who became Defense 
Minister in May 2002 and was first elected to Parliament in 
2000, is still learning the ropes of Cabinet politics, 
including the finer points of obfuscating before the media. 
He violated one of Chretien's basic rules - not to infringe 
upon the Prime Minister's room for maneuver - and was put 
down for his efforts.  We continue to believe that Canada 
would join a coalition of the willing in a campaign against 
Iraq, even if the Security Council were divided, but that 
Chretien would prefer to avoid having to make that 
politically tough decision. 
CELLUCCI 

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