Despite the US State Department issuing an urgent request for countries to take back their citizens who went to fight for ISIS, the Canadian government says prioritizing the return of foreign fighters from Syria is not on the cards.
What is instead a priority for Canada is to figure out the charges against those fighters and studying the feasibility of retrieving children born to such Canadians who are currently in the custody of Kurdish or Syrians.
In media reports, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale pointed out that given the dangerous part of the world, it would not be wise to send consular officials to assess and assist in any repatriation of Canadians associated with ISIS.
Goodale seemed to suggest that there wasn’t much sympathy for those who wilfully went to that part of the world to participate in any way and for that they needed to take responsibility for their actions.
As the US withdraws from Syria and the situation there changes, Canada as well as other countries that are reluctant to deal with this potentially explosive situation could be forced to make a tough decision.
Bringing back former ISIS members and their families could potentially cost the Liberals the upcoming elections. There would be strong opposition to welcoming back these individuals given that prosecuting them for what went on in Syria is difficult. Monitoring them could end up being prohibitively expensive.