France, Canada stand side by side in terror fight: Hollande

3rd November 2014, Comments 0 comments

Visiting French President Francois Hollande brought a message of solidarity in the global fight against terrorism to Canada's parliament Monday, less than two weeks after a lone gunman stormed its halls.

"In the face of terrorism, there is no room for backing down, for concession, for weakness, because terrorism threatens the values on which both of our countries are based," Hollande said in a speech to Canadian lawmakers.

Both nations, he added, "are acting together to discharge their responsibilities in terms of security in the world," alluding to Canadian and French warplanes joining US-led airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq.

Both France and Canada coincidentally had refused to join an earlier US-led war in Iraq about a decade ago to oust Saddam Hussein.

"But today, faced with a terrorist threat that is conducting massacres, destroying villages, putting women and children into slavery, can we stand aside, remain indifferent and not take action, thinking it doesn't involve us? No, we cannot," Hollande said to applause.

The Islamic State group gained international attention in August, when its fighters overran swaths of Iraqi territory.

Western governments fear IS could eventually strike overseas, but their biggest worry for now is its gains in Iraq and the likely eventual return home of foreign fighters.

Last month, the first successful jihadist attacks on Canadian soil resulted in the deaths of two unarmed soldiers.

Police said the two suspects in the separate incidents held jihadist sympathies and wished to join the IS group.

Upon his arrival in Ottawa, Hollande laid a wreath at Canada's war memorial, where a Canadian convert to Islam killed a soldier, before dying in a gunfight with security at the nearby parliament.

Both Hollande and Harper said an aerial campaign alone will not displace the Islamic State.

"We all recognize that it has to ultimately be pushed back on the ground," Harper told a press conference.

He said Iraqi forces must take up the fight on the ground, while disenfranchised groups in the Mideast country must also be brought into its government.

- Seeking climate commitment -As Hollande begins preparations for the next global climate conference on ways to slow warming in Paris next year, the French leader also said he is counting on Canada to "be fully committed to the fight against global warming," and do its part.

In November 2015, Hollande will gather leaders from all over the world in the French capital for the United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP21, seeking to negotiate new emissions limits.

Energy exporters and major developed economies like Canada will be asked to make sacrifices, but Canada has shown no willingness to rein in its energy industry and is planning huge new pipelines.

Indeed, Canada is one of the world's top polluters with 1.

9 percent of total emissions, and is widely expected to miss its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent.

When asked, Harper pointed to his government's efforts to reduce emissions sector by sector.

He said Canada has taken steps, including phasing out coal-fired power plants.

But a recent independent parliamentary report said there is currently no plan for reducing emissions from the Alberta oil sands, which are Canada's fastest growing source of carbon emissions.

"We recognize as obviously does France, (that) there is a lot of work to be done at the international level to get what all of us want, which is a global agreement that will create binding obligations on all major emitters," Harper said.

Later, Hollande will head to the French-speaking province of Quebec, which has traditionally had strong economic and cultural ties with France.

France is hoping to persuade the regional government to drop a plan to halt an arrangement that allows French students to pay the same as local people to attend Quebec universities.


© 2014 AFP

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