LONDON — The West cannot sit by in the face of the brutality shown by the extremists of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The murder of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff is part of a larger campaign of atrocities, Harper said today at an event in London.
“We’re obviously outraged because you know, these are journalists, they’re people that indirectly, we know they’re from our countries,” he said.
“But the fact is, this is a tip of an iceberg of literally tens of thousands of people who are being treated in this way.”
He said Canada is ready to work together with other countries against ISIL.
“And so, obviously, we’re speaking to our allies about how we can do that and what the best strategy is going forward,” he said.
“The strategy in Iraq, I think, is taking shape. It’s fairly clear — less clear in Syria where it’s not really clear whose side we’re on, although we certainly know that ISIL is an extreme threat.”
Harper continued, however, to defend his government’s defence spending against criticism that it falls short of what is needed.
People should be talking about what Canada has contributed to international military missions and not necessarily how much the country spends on defence, he said.
Harper is under pressure from allies, notably the U.S. and Britain, to boost the defence budget in light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the rising threat in Syria and Iraq.
He said Canada will continue to be frugal in its defence spending.
The federal government earmarks about one per cent of the country’s gross domestic product on the military, which is about half what NATO expects.