Trudeau sets new course for Canada

  • 21/10/2015
Canada's prime minister-elect Justin Trudeau (Reuters)
Canada's prime minister-elect Justin Trudeau (Reuters)

Canada's Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau has told US President Barack Obama that Canadian fighter jets would withdraw from fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

But he gave no timeline.

"About an hour ago I spoke with President Obama," Trudeau told a press conference on Tuesday (local time).

While Canada remains "a strong member of the coalition against ISIL [Islamic State]", Trudeau said he made clear to the US leader "the commitments I have made around ending the combat mission".

Canada last year deployed CF-18 fighter jets to the region until March 2016, as well as about 70 special forces troops to train Kurds in northern Iraq.

During the campaign, Trudeau pledged to bring home the fighter jets and end its combat mission. But he vowed to keep military trainers in place.

His new Liberal government will be "moving forward with our campaign commitments in a responsible fashion", Trudeau said.

"We want to ensure that the transition is done in an orderly fashion."

Trudeau also reached out to Canada's traditional allies a day after his landslide victory, pledging to rebuild ties that soured over the issue of climate change with a "constructive" new style of government.

The decisive win ended nearly a decade of Stephen Harper's Tory rule, giving the 43-year-old Trudeau a strong mandate to change tack on global warming and return to the multilateralism often shunned by his predecessor.

"I want to say to this country's friends all 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," the Prime Minister-elect told cheering supporters at a rally in Ottawa.

"On behalf of 35 million Canadians, we're back," said Trudeau, the telegenic son of beloved late premier Pierre Trudeau.

Congratulations poured in from world capitals including Washington, Paris and Beijing, applauding the promised new direction, with all eyes turned towards the Paris climate conference in December.

The White House said Obama, whose administration had clashed with Harper on climate policy, looked forward to partnering with Trudeau on the issue.

Labelled a "climate laggard" by the UN, Canada under Harper became the first country to pull out of the landmark Kyoto Protocol in 2011, inflicting lasting damage on relations with allies in Europe among others.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Canada's new leaders to help clinch a historic climate deal in Paris.

Trudeau also vowed to significantly boost Canada's intake of Syrian refugees, more than doubling it to 25,000 by year's end, insisting only political will has been lacking so far. But critics have warned this could be a herculean task.