Canada to end airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, new prime minister Trudeau says

In first press conference after election victory, Justin Trudeau says Canadian fighter jets will withdraw from US mission against Islamic State

Canadian Liberal prime minister designate Justin Trudeau has confirmed that Canada will withdraw its fighter jets from the US-led mission against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In his first news conference following the sweeping majority Liberal victory in Canada’s federal election, the visibly fatigued leader said he had spoken with US president Barack Obama in a phone call during which he discussed his intention to pull Canada’s fighter jets out of the anti-Isis campaign.

“I committed that we would continue to engage in a responsible way that understands how important Canada’s role is to play in the fight against Isil, but he understands the commitments I’ve made about ending the combat mission,” Trudeau said.

He did not set out a timeline for the withdrawal. Canada currently has six CF-18 fighter jets taking part in the US-led bombing campaign. They were due to remain in the region until March 2016.

Canada has also deployed around 70 special forces troops to train Kurds in northern Iraq, although Trudeau has previously indicated that this mission would continue.

The White House in a statement said: “The two leaders agreed on the importance of deepening the already strong United States-Canada relationship and committed to strengthening the countries’ joint efforts to promote trade,combat terrorism, and mitigate climate change.”

Trudeau has said he would work to improve Canada-US relations, which he claims became frosty under Harper. But speaking at a rally in Ottawa earlier on Tuesday, he stressed that he wanted to see a shift in Canada’s foreign policy.

“I want to say this to this country’s friends around the world: Many of you have worried that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years.

“Well, I have a simple message for you on behalf of 35 million Canadians. We’re back.”

In his first day as prime minister designate, Trudeau also announced that he and his new cabinet – which will be 50/50 male/female – would be sworn in on 4 November, as he moves forward on an ambitious policy agenda.

“I’m very, very aware of both the opportunity and the responsibility that we have to live up to, having put forward a strong vision for growth, for unity, for positivity in this country,” Trudeau said.

“We now get to start working on delivering that.”In his conversation with Obama, the two political leaders also touched on the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, climate policies, and the imminent American decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project, which Trudeau supports.

Trudeau described it as a “warm conversation” that also touched on the struggles of balancing political power and parenthood, since both men have young children.

Obama “also teased me about my lack of grey hair, but said I’d probably get some quite soon”, Trudeau joked.

The new leader also spoke with UK prime minister David Cameron and French president François Hollande.

The son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau won a surprise majority in Monday’s national election, a victory that launched the party from a decade in opposition back into power.

It was also a sound defeat for outgoing Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, who has been in power since 2006.

Trudeau’s news conference came at the end of a jam-packed first day for the prime minister-in-waiting, which began with him surprising morning commuters at metro station in his home riding in Montreal, snapping selfies with constituents.

A pleasure to thank Montrealers for their support today. I'll be proud to represent Papineau as Prime Minister.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 20, 2015

By afternoon he was back in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, for a rally with supporters.

Journalists pressed him for details and timelines for implementing campaign promises, including launching an inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women and tackling reforms to Canada’s scandal-plagued Senate.

But he offered few firm commitments, noting he would be juggling the responsibilities of putting together a new cabinet and ensuring a smooth transition of power with a packed international agenda.

“[We] will be moving forward with our campaign commitments in a responsible fashion – we want to be sure the transition is done in an orderly fashion,” he said.

He will attend the upcoming COP21 climate change summit in Paris in late November and hopes to attend the G20 meeting in Turkey and the APEC summit in the Philippines, also both next month.


Jessica Murphy in Ottawa

The GuardianTramp

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