Canada’s minister of defense was left out of a Wednesday meeting of international defense leaders gathered to discuss the Islamic State, according to the Associated Press. Conservative Canadian politicians believe the exclusion is the result of newly-elected Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s stated policy of withdrawing fighter jets from the battlefield.
U.S. defense officials described the meeting as being made up of countries with the most “skin in the game,” according to The Washington Post. Defense officials from Italy, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, France, and the U.S. were all present.
Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, denied being intentionally excluded from the meeting when confronted by the press. Sajjan told reporters, “Meetings happen all the time. There [are] a number of other meetings that happen that you may not actually be aware of,” according to Canadian outlet The Star.
Canada had a total of six CF-18 fighter jets combating ISIS forces under the Conservative government of former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Canadian Conservative Party commented on Sajjan’s exclusion from the international policy planning meeting stating, “Canada is deliberately being excluded because of this Liberal government’s decision to withdraw our CF-18s from the mission against ISIS,” according to the Associated Press.
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