The House resumed from October 6 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday I spoke of the clear danger that is presented by ISIL's advance in the region. I would like to speak today about the threat to our country and to other western nations.
If colleagues here do not recognize this direct threat to our country, all they have to do is search any social networking tool to find repeated references to the desire to spread ISIL's vile ideology to Canada.
I am deeply concerned that the expansion of ISIL is attracting individuals from the west, including Canadian citizens, to radicalize to the point of violence. Canadians are known to have travelled to conflict zones to participate in terrorism-related activities, including front-line combat, fundraising, operational planning, and disseminating online propaganda.
ISIL has been able to bolster its strength by recruiting thousands of foreign fighters, including many from central Europe and central Asia. Recent media reporting highlighted the deaths of Calgarian Farah Mohamed Shirdon and of Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud, who both died fighting for ISIL.
As a nation, we have recognized that this expansion of ISIL via the recruitment of foreign workers is a serious issue and have already begun to address it, which is why we co-sponsored UN Security Council resolution 2178. We have also implemented several key legislative tools, such as the Combating Terrorism Act, which created new offences for leaving or attempting to leave Canada to commit certain terrorism offences. The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, now law, allows for the revocation of Canadian citizenship from dual Canadian citizens if they are convicted of terrorist offences.
However, as the democratically elected government of Iraq has recognized by its request for assistance in containing the expansion of ISIL, if ISIL is allowed to operate in the open with its expansion of territory left unchecked, we and our allies have ignored the true source of aggression to our collective borders. This is why, after careful consideration, our government has put forward the motion in front of us today.
I would be remiss if I did not discuss the treatment of women under the ideology of ISIL as part of the case to support this motion.
A report listed by the United Nations outlines the alarming atrocities committed by ISIL. Through their actions, they have embedded the view of women as subhuman into their ideology. Hundreds of women and girls have been sold as sex slaves by ISIL in a bid to tempt buyers to join their ranks. They have been given to ISIL or trafficked for sale at markets.
Women with professional careers have also been targeted and executed. In one example, ISIL publicly killed a female human rights lawyer in Mosul after their self-styled Islamic court ruled that she had abandoned Islam. Samira Salih al-Nuaimi was seized from her home on September 17 after allegedly posting messages on Facebook that were critical of the militants' destruction of religious sites in Mosul. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, al-Nuaimi was tried in a so-called Sharia court for apostasy, after which she was tortured for five days before militants sentenced her to public execution.
There have also been reports that ISIL planned to make four million women and girls undergo female genital mutilation in the Mosul area. This is, of course, on top of the thousands of cases of rape, innumerable instances of forced marriage, and the complete removal of equal rights of women to receive education and to participate in the economy and in politics.
ISIL's treatment of women goes well beyond any concept of misogyny we are accustomed to fighting against in western culture. Given that this group has been able to attract fighters from western nations and clearly has sympathizers residing therein, it poses a threat to the ability of women to have equality in free society around the world.
That said, I am not afraid of these cowards, who see women as subspecies with little value over being a necessary nuisance in procreation or as chattel to be raped and traded to the ignorants that fight for their cause. This is because our nation's anthem has never rung hollow. Our brave men and women have always “stood on guard for thee” against threats to our country and to its people.
This motion presents a clear and defined response from Canada to the threat ISIL presents to the global community. We will continue the deployment of up to 26 CAF personnel to advise Iraq's security forces, with no ground combat mission. We will coordinate with our allies to participate in air strikes against ISIL, with the goal of limiting ISIL's ability to operate in the open and of preventing its continued expansion of territory. In doing so, we will contribute one air-to-air refuelling aircraft, two Aurora surveillance aircraft, and the necessary crews and support personnel. The above will be for a period of six months.
We are ready and capable to take on this challenge. Our investments, as articulated in the Canada First defence strategy, are building a modern, first-class military ready to face the challenges of our generation. The government has steadily been delivering upon this plan, providing our men and women in uniform with the equipment that has made a positive difference in the way that they operate.
We will seek to prevent the flow of funding and financing to ISIL, work to halt the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria, and provide diplomatic support to help Iraq toward a religiously and ethically inclusive government.
Supporting the government's motion shows Canadians that we as a Parliament accept that unless confronted with strong and direct force, the threat that ISIL poses to international peace and security will continue to grow.
By supporting this motion today, we show Canadians that we understand the depth of the atrocities committed by this terrorist organization. We show Canadians that we support Iraqi leaders in undertaking a concerted effort to confront ISIL's barbaric advance and to mend sectarian divisions that threaten Iraq's long-term security. We show Canadians that as representatives of their voices, we are prepared to stand with our allies who have committed to containing this threat. We show Canadians that we support a clearly defined combat mission, which we are capable of delivering, coupled with humanitarian assistance for the region.
By supporting this motion, we show Canadians that we are willing to act, not obfuscate, while ISIL flourishes.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I am pleased to speak to this motion today. It lays out the position of the and the government on our part as Canadians in the fight against ISIL and the atrocities it is inflicting on others, especially those in Syria and Iraq, and its desire to inflict such atrocities on many in the western world, including Canada.
I listened to a considerable amount of the debate yesterday. I do not think it is not very often any of us do this, but I read Hansard and the speeches I missed last evening.
Just as an initial point, because it does not happen often in this place, I congratulate everyone for what I think has been a very serious debate. There has been the odd shot thrown across the room. I heard the member for suggest that the Liberals did not understand the quality of our military. We certainly do, and we support it. There are also implications from the government, which the minister reiterated, that we cannot sit on the sidelines, implying that both opposition parties want the government to sit on the sidelines. That is not true either. In general, the debate has been very good and a lot of good points have been raised.
My colleagues, the member for and the member for , made good arguments on the many ways that we could contribute other than CF-18s, such as strategic airlift, medical supplies, work with refugees, military advisers who are already there, and the list goes on. They were making the point that CF-18s were not the only option.
It bothers me somewhat, as I mentioned a moment ago, that the theme the government is trying to express is that those who do not support the motion, and I certainly do not at this time support the CF-18s being sent into the fight, do not want the necessary action.
Absolutely no one on this side argues that ISIL is not a threat to peace and stability in the world. It is indeed a threat. I will even give the credit for some of the points he raised yesterday in his remarks of how ISIL was such a threat, outlining that it wanted instability and potential instability elsewhere in the world. I will not reiterate those points, but they have been made and anyone who wants to see them can read Hansard.
Let me also be clear that inaction is not an option. Our party is not talking about inaction. We are saying that there has to be action, but not being supportive of sending the CF-18s is not inaction. Doing other things in the Iraqi theatre could, in fact, be more strategic. Let me explain.
In other areas of the world, for example, Britain, the prime minister of the country called the opposition leaders in and gave them a proper briefing. That has not happened in our country. Why? We are part of a coalition. There are already CF-18s. Military force through air strikes are already taking place. Action is already happening. What is the state of our equipment? We do not know. What is the state of our troops? We have done more than our fair share in Afghanistan. We have asked our men and women in uniform to rotate in, and some of them four times in a rotation.
Are we right to ask them to do that at this time or are there other strategies that we should employ, in conjunction with the coalition, that would add more strategic action to the effort and in other roles, such as humanitarian aid, dealing with refugees, medical supplies, increasing the advisers on the ground and so on? We do not know, because the leaders in the opposition parties do not have the detailed information to give us the confidence that the decision the government is making is the right one. We need to look at the whole picture.
Has the coalition or the President of the United States requested that we send in six CF-18s versus taking other positions? Yes, it is true that the government is also doing some other things, and it made a good announcement yesterday in terms of the $10 million and support in that area, but was the request made to us specifically for those CF-18s? We do not know. Nobody from the government has expressly said so.
The fact is, in terms of our commitment financially, with equipment and human resources, that if we commit in one area, it is conceivable that there would be less we could commit in other areas. Therefore, strategically, we do not know the whole picture, and the has failed to outline it, as he should have, for the opposition leaders.
Some have tried to make the point that my party does not have confidence in our military. In fact, we do. We have the highest regard for the Canadian military and its capabilities, and its members have shown that time and again in various war theatres around the world.
Also, I would point to what Hillary Clinton said yesterday, and she has had considerable experience around the world on foreign issues. She came down on both sides of this issue as well, and she said:
I think military action is critical, in fact I would say essential, to try to prevent [the Islamic State’s] further advance and their holding of more territory.
She is right. We agree that military action is in fact taking place, but do our CF-18s have to be a part of it or are we better doing other things in conjunction with that?
She also said, “Military action alone is not sufficient” and maintained in describing the fight against Islamic jihadists as “a long-term commitment”. She is absolutely right in that area.
We are in this fight. We knew when the 30 days was announced, that it would not be over in 30 days or in six months. We have been through some of these issues before by not engaging in Iraq and our fight in Afghanistan. We know this is a long-term commitment. I cannot say all are willing, but we are certainly willing to commit Canada's efforts to take on this scourge on the world.
Yesterday I talked to a person who was 30 years in the military. For security reasons, I will not go through his comments, but his bottom line is this. He said, “In any case, we should be in a support role and not in a combat role in this one”. That is basically what we are suggesting.
I want to make one other point, which is that this fight is not only in Syria and Iraq. There are radicalized individuals leaving Canada, the United States and Britain, and coming back to these countries carrying passports. They are a risk domestically and they have to be taken on. The government also has to figure out a strategy on how we deal with that radicalization in Canada, which is a serious threat to our country.
Mr. Speaker, let there be no doubt that from the Liberal Party's perspective Canada does have a role to play with respect to what is taking place in Iraq today.
Canadians from all over our vast country are concerned about what is being portrayed, whether it is through the Internet or through different media outlets. We need to recognize that as a whole, Canadians are a caring, compassionate society that believes in democracy, freedom and the rule of law. There is absolutely no doubt about that. They also want the government to make good, sound, solid decisions. This is where the of Canada is lacking. He has not been able to put the cards on the table. He has not been able to justify his actions.
The Liberal Party is open to listening to what the government wants to do, but we have not been able to get answers to numerous questions that we have put forward to the government. I will go through a number of those questions.
Right from day one we in the Liberal Party have been arguing for the need for more debate on this issue inside the House of Commons, where members are offered the opportunity to get engaged on what is an important world issue and one in which our military would be engaged.
I am speaking somewhat from experience. I had the privilege of serving in the Canadian Forces. I would like to think that all members of this chamber support our military personnel. The Liberal Party certainly does. Canada has some of the very best military personnel in the world as a result of the training that we provide and as a result of their abilities. Let there be no doubt about that. All of us are proud of each and every member of the Canadian Forces. The government has to support our military personnel in a real and tangible way.
From the beginning of this session we have been arguing for debate. We need to talk about what is taking place in Iraq. The government seems to have its mind set on one thing and one thing only and that is the air strike. That seems to be the only option that the government has considered, and the government is wrong on that part. It would appear that members of the Conservative Party closed their minds right from the beginning, and at a great cost. Canadians want us to play a role in Iraq but the decision is wrong. He has not been able to justify his actions.
Members of the Liberal Party supported taking on an advisory role for 30 days. That is what makes us different from the New Democratic Party. The Liberal Party is not shy about dealing with the issue and keeping an open mind. Our party understands the complex issues that are taking place in Iraq and the Middle East. They are having a profound impact on the world.
I have listened to many Conservatives talking about the savage behaviour, the terrible things that are taking place in Iraq today, what ISIL is bringing upon people. It is criminal. It is completely unheard of in many minds. They talk about people being butchered, about women being sold as sex slaves, the things that ISIL is doing to children, to babies. There are all of these compelling arguments as to why Canada needs to play some role. We in the Liberal Party acknowledge that Canada does need to play some role, but we do not believe that the government has made the case to justify Canada's role being that of air strikes.
We can still be as upset as the government in terms of the horrendous behaviour of ISIL and individuals involved in that organization. We can still condemn their actions, but there are different ways of fighting it. There are different ways of being engaged that we could be looking at for our military forces, but the mentality of the government seems to be that if people do not favour air strikes, then they do not favour fighting ISIL, which is just not the case, at least not within the Liberal Party.
I believe the overwhelming majority of Canadians believe, as the Liberal Party believes, that we have to do something. We need the government to provide answers to questions. There is a litany of questions. I will pose but a few. What is the Canadian objective in this particular mission in terms of air strikes? What is the plan to meet the objective? What is the total cost of the proposed CF-18 deployment, which is important to have at least a sense of? Who will be commanding the mission?
With the time limit on the deployment, will the government seek additional parliamentary support if the mission is to be extended, as Liberals anticipate it will be? What other options for the Canadian military contribution did the consider? Did he even consider any of them? Why were they ruled out?
When we talk about humanitarian aid, what options for a humanitarian contribution rather than a military contribution did the consider, or did he even consider them? Why were they ruled out? Will the incremental costs of the combat mission reduce the amount of humanitarian aid that the government would provide? I believe that is an incredibly important question that needs to be answered.
How much humanitarian aid and technical assistance is Canada planning to give to each of Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan over the next six months? How much humanitarian aid and technical assistance is Canada planning to give to the international agencies and NGOs operating in the area in the next six months? These are good, sound questions.
Last Thursday night we heard that the was going to making a statement on Friday morning last week. Friday came, the gives an indication of what the Government of Canada's intent was, and the had the opportunity at that time to address this issue and raise many of the questions that I put forward.
The made clear where Liberals stand, how important it is that Canada plays a role in what is happening in Iraq, and articulated why it is that the has failed Canadians by not being more transparent and honest about what is taking place and what the government's actions are going to be.
There has been a general unwillingness to even work with the opposition and the Liberals. Yes, the critic on foreign affairs was able to go to Iraq. There has been some goodwill, but it has been very limited. Is it because government members are scared to answer many of the questions? Maybe there is something more that Canada could be doing that would include the Canadian Forces. These types of things are important.
ISIL is a threat both to the region and global security. ISIL murders ethnic and religious minorities across Iraq and Syria. They murder innocent civilians, humanitarian workers, and journalists. These are awful acts that have been fully documented. Canada does have a role to play to confront the humanitarian crisis and the security threats to the world.
When the government considers deploying our men and women in uniform, it must make it a clear mission overall and a clear role for Canada within that mission.
I will finish my comments through questions and answers.
Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate at the outset that I will be splitting my time with the , the member for Selkirk—Interlake.
I rise with others to take part in what is obviously a very sombre and serious debate. Most would agree that there is never a good time to go to war, but there comes a time in every country's history when the necessity outweighs the risk, and the urgency to defend our way of life, threatened as it is, must be defended. ISIL constitutes a clear and present danger to Canada and our allies. Before us is a debate that has been put before this House with clarity and with intent, which is proposing meaningful and measured responses to a very serious situation.
ISIL is pure evil. There is insufficient hyperbole to do justice to the depth of its depravity, no rhyme or reason to the inhumanity that it brings to this world. Some seem willing to accept this new reality. We live in a global society where terrorism does certainly not respect borders, and to offer platitudes or to attempt to placate fear with the promise of acceptance or tolerance toward this type of action reflects a fundamental disconnect.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately as the case may be, we as a government do not have the luxury of indecision or inaction or denial. Beyond the rhetoric and the partisan lines, when it comes to terrorism we have a responsibility to take up arms against the sea of tyranny and to proactively help to end it. Canadians otherwise predominantly enjoy a life free from fear and far from terror because we have men and women in uniform who are prepared to stand at the ready to defend our way of life at home and abroad. We cannot and we should not stand idly by, hoping that other nations will rise to the challenge on our behalf. What we are doing, we are doing because we have always risen to the occasion, when threatened, and addressed the threat head on.
Also in the news is the scourge of Ebola. Make no mistake about it: ISIL is a human plague; an agent of indiscriminate death and clear threats to humanity.
This way of life is not be taken for granted in Canada. Where we find ourselves today as a nation has come at great cost. It has been defended on the field of battle with the blood of our illustrious ancestors. Our country was literally born on a battlefield, Vimy, according to many historians. Our greatest citizens then, as now, passed through a crucible defending our way of life. All that we hold dear rests on those sacrifices.
We need to recognize that there is a danger in complacency, and explicit in that is the notion that, when called upon, we answer, we do our part. From the privileged platform of minister of defence, I saw first hand the sacrifices made in Canada's name. There is no argument against war as compelling as witnessing first hand a ramp ceremony or a repatriation service, seeing the suffering of loved ones when their loved ones return home. That epitomizes “true patriot love”, as do the sacrifices of those who suffered bodily harm in Canada's name.
Much is at stake. Every breath we take is precious, and the bonds formed in the relationships overseas in conflict have withstood the test of time. We have all heard those stories. We have heard those who have served recount the incredible sacrifices made. However, we do not enjoy the luxury of this bond because they have sacrificed. If there is any comfort that can be passed on to families of the fallen, it lies in the true belief that their loved ones did not die in vain.
What more worthy cause? We saw in Afghanistan, as a result of efforts, little girls now able to go to school, women able to participate in the democratic process and the economy; and our efforts as a free and democratic nation have contributed to an unprecedented change of culture, albeit still fragile. It is the result of much effort on the part of many. Those are the goals to achieve for a new place in the Middle East.
Some members have invoked other images from places like Darfur, places where there have been catalogued the numbers of the dead, and yet it is these factions, those who are at the cause of this destruction and the very threat to humanity, who have come out in the past and in present to pose a direct or indirect threat to Canada, which we cannot leave unchecked.
Some have called for further debate or examination, while our traditional allies are already in the fray.
As tragic as all conflicts are, the faction involved here as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, has called for the very destruction of our way of life in the western world.
Make no mistake. These are current threats. These are real threats. This is not a war against Muslims. This is not a fight between Christianity and Islam. This is an intervention to aid in the restoration of some semblance of security against a perversion of a twisted version of a faith distorted and violence perpetrated against true innocents in that region. Yet it is perpetrated outward. It has been carried via the Internet into the homes of Canadians. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has proven its distortion of faith through extreme acts of terror so callous in nature that even al Qaeda has worked to distance itself from them.
Let us be crystal clear. The evidence to act in defence of Canada is there. ISIL has targeted humanitarian workers, journalists, and citizens. Millions are displaced, and the suffering is enormous. Acts of genocide, rape as a weapon of war, kidnapping, and slavery as a stated intent are threats against our country and theirs.
We have been asked by a democratic state to assist. This brings further justification to our actions.
ISIL, on the other hand, has shown no tolerance and no conscience and has no regard for beliefs or democratic principles other than its own twisted and distorted view of the world. Now it has descended in that region into a type of maniacal barbarism and brutality rarely seen in human history. Comparisons to other conflicts are limited to the worst in world history.
ISIL has waged a brutal, inhumane war, showing equal disregard for women and children, Muslims and Christians alike. Its claim to religious authority over all Muslims worldwide and its goal to bring Muslim-inhabited regions under its own diabolic control and to spread throughout the civilized world cannot go unchecked.
Religious freedom is a fundamental Canadian value that we protect and promote throughout the world.
In addition to military collaboration, we have also sent humanitarian aid in the tens of millions to those affected. It has not been one or the other, but both. We are one of the top donors, in fact, as a country, which again is a source of pride.
We have also helped through immigration. Thousands have been liberated, because they were displaced and left vulnerable as a result of this conflict.
If we must once again put our faith in those who wear the Canadian Forces uniform, we want Canadians to know that it was a decision not taken lightly but is one we have confidence in. We cannot thank those brave men and women in uniform enough. Putting soldiers in harm's way is, as others have said, an undertaking that we must do with extreme caution and deliberation. Asking these brave souls of the Canadian Forces to defend our nation, our way of life, our beliefs, and the rights and freedoms of Canadians at home and abroad weighs heavily on all minds.
However, as a government, we take this responsibility seriously. We believe that parliamentarians should and do have an opportunity in this debate to help to carefully calibrate force and action, which is why we have added another day to this debate and why we have made this a confidence motion.
For a period of up to six months, our forces will launch air strikes against ISIL, along with our allies and partners, including Arab states, utilizing up to nine aircraft and support elements. Humanitarian relief will continue. This is a meaningful, impactful contribution. As always, we will do our part with pride and purpose.
Incremental costs will of course be reported to the Parliament of Canada, as they always are.
The current deployment of 69 members who will be participating in a non-combat advisory role will continue. As the has said, we are not participating in any ground combat mission. We do so in coordination with our closest allies and with the greatest intent in mind to bring about a sense of security in the region.
The dedication and determination of the men and women in uniform that we have witnessed first-hand thus far is inspirational as always. We have a long and storied history when it comes to protecting our system of beliefs and those we count among our closest friends and allies.
There are easier paths we could go down, but we will not shy away from our duty. We will do what is right, honouring our glorious history and preserving our precious future.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in the House regarding Canada's engagement in the combat mission against ISIL. I have to say that I am extremely disappointed in the opposition parties. They took positions before this debate even started. They were opposed to this mission and are not interested in listening to logical debate before making a decision on the motion.
As has already been made clear, the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, constitutes a threat to local, regional, and international security. The serious security and humanitarian crisis in Iraq and in its neighbouring countries has been created by the vicious advance of the ISIL terrorists. Their capture of territory has resulted in mass displacement and has forced over one million Iraqis from their homes and communities, and we know well of their despicable and unspeakable crimes.
ISIL stands accused by the United Nations of the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities and of the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. Of course, they have also bragged about their decapitations of journalists and aid workers. If allowed to continue, the threat posed by ISIL will develop into an even greater threat, further destabilizing the Middle East and creating and encouraging greater enmity among its people.
We know that these terrorists seek to hurt Canada and our allies. The leadership of ISIL has called for Canada and Canadians to be attacked. How much longer should Canada wait to act? If it were up to the leaders of the Liberals and the NDP, Canadians would never act.
Our government will not sit on the sidelines. We are taking action.
Since the end of August, the Canadian Armed Forces have airlifted critical military supplies for the Iraqi forces battling ISIL on the ground. Twenty-five flights have delivered more than 1.6 million pounds of military supplies donated by Albania and the Czech Republic. We have also deployed special operations forces to advise and assist the Iraqi forces and in particular the Kurdish Peshmerga. We announced yesterday that their initial 30-day deployment is being extended for up to six months.
On Friday, the announced that this government will take the following additional steps. A strike force of up to six CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft, with associated aircrew and logistical support elements, will deploy to conduct air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq in co-operation with our coalition partners. In addition, a CC-150 Polaris refueling aircraft and up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance aircraft will deploy for their reconnaissance and support capabilities.
This force will also include an airlift capability and several hundred support personnel who will be contributing to command and control and logistics and will be providing assistance to the coalition's air combat operations.
These deployments mean that Canada is shouldering its share of the international burden to combat the threat of ISIL. We know that it is possible that there may be risks to our deployed members, but I can attest to the fact that they are ready, willing, and up to this task. They are exceptionally well trained and equipped to the highest standards. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are the very best of our citizenry, and I know that they will make us proud of their heroism and bravery yet again.
As I explained yesterday in the House, this operation is still at a preliminary stage. We will continue to work closely with our allies to evaluate the operations and events as they continue to unfold.
Let me say something about our allies in this operation. Over the last few months, a wide coalition of more than 40 countries has come together. They all understand the vital need to confront ISIL. Our closest ally and defence partner, the United States, is leading the coalition. The U.S. has been conducting air strikes against ISIL for two months now, and it has expanded its air campaign in the last two weeks. However, the U.S. is no longer alone, as other countries are joining the fight every day.
France and the United Kingdom have already conducted air strikes, destroying ISIL facilities and weaponry. Ten Arab countries have also pledged their support, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Bahrain already participating in air strikes. Australia has committed direct military support, including 600 personnel and eight F-18 Super Hornet fighters.
Many of our allies within NATO are also getting involved in combat operations. The Netherlands is sending 6 F-16 fighter jets plus 2 reserve jets, 250 support staff and pilots. Belgium is sending 6 F-16s, with 8 pilots and 120 support staff. Denmark is providing 7 F-16 fighter jets, along with 250 pilots and support staff. Germany is sending paratroopers to provide weapons and training to Kurdish fighters. Weapons and ammunition are being sent by countries such as Italy, Estonia and Hungary.
The international community is stepping up, and so must Canada.
Let me end on this note. The violence we see from ISIL simply has no place in the modern world. Who would have even dreamt two years ago that this would happen? ISIL's utter contempt for human life is beneath humanity and it rightly shocks Canadians.
We do not make decisions through a red mist or through a desire for revenge. We know that down that path lays disaster. Our measured response, very carefully considered by our government, is in line with Canada's intent to contribute to international peace and security.
We are citizens of the world and this government is acting as such. ISIL knows no boundaries and no borders. It threatens to gain more ground and it directly threatens the safety of our country. It is time for something to be done, and for the international community to act. If we do not, as the opposition has suggested, we will eventually face the serious consequences. We simply cannot afford to let the Middle East wallow in the repression, bloodshed and atrocities that would result. We simply cannot ignore the direct threat posed by ISIL to Canada and our western allies, or to our values.
This government is prepared to address this threat at its source. Canadians agree that this military action is in our national interest. We must take action and we will take action. We seek the support of all Canadians for the government motion.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this motion. As members of Parliament, the single most important duty we have is to give consideration to actions by the government, as those actions would lead our military men and women into harm's way.
One thing I want to be clear on is that at this point in time there is already an action under way to go after ISIL, the people committing the atrocities about which the members on the other side just spoke. Nobody on this side of the House is any less offended or troubled by those actions.
Right now militarily, about 60 countries are involved in a coalition and not all of them have made the decision to put their military into action. The United States, France and Australia are leading the way with a massive force. In point of fact, if we consider the six aircraft being proposed by the government and the 600 people who will accompany them, that is a very small portion of what will be utilized in the bombings.
Based on some testimony that the Subcommittee on International Human Rights heard this week from Reverend Majed El Shafie of One Free World International, which is a group that took Conservatives and other members of Parliament to Iraq, right to the edge of where the combat is taking place, the president of Iraq and Kurdish leaders begged for humanitarian aid for the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons in that country, not bombs.
I want to take members back for a moment and ask if they remember the use of the words “collateral damage”. In and around Parliament and places of government, there are often what are called buzzwords. An example of buzzwords that I am very familiar with were “free trade”. In the 1980s, there was a great debate on free trade and it sounded good. In both Gulf Wars, when the American missiles and bombs were dropping, collateral damage was referred to. The collateral damage consisted of men, women and children. Nobody can direct a surgical strike that does not put at risk having collateral damage.
One of the offshoots of the Gulf War was the instability when the Americans left. Prior to that time, Saddam Hussein, who was a Sunni, whose tribe was about one-quarter the size of the Shia in that area of the world, installed his Sunni supporters into the army. When the Americans and their allies removed Saddam Hussein and destabilized that area, he was ultimately replaced by a prime minister who was Shia, who sought revenge for the many atrocities committed by the troops of Saddam Hussein. It is said that he did not pay the army on time and humiliated it.
When a couple of thousand ISIL fighters came across the border, five divisions of Iraqi soldiers laid down their arms. Many of them joined ISIL because of the instability. Not understanding the horrific consequences, they believed that by joining ISIL, they would get a fairer deal from the government. Since that time, that prime minister has been removed.
I would like to inform the House, Mr. Speaker, that I am splitting my time with the member for .
The instability that was created by that vacuum and the years and years of Shia and Sunni tribal warfare is being taken advantage of by the ISIL group.
We have heard testimony from people here today and on other days that ISIL is far more sophisticated than any terrorist group that we have come across. It is an offshoot of al Qaeda. Our leader was indicating in the House the other day that North Americans have been fighting ISIL in one form or another for well over 10 years. It took advantage of that vacuum and has also taken advantage of some people who, had they really considered their actions, would not have joined it.
It is horrific. We have heard very little like it. The only place I can think of that might be comparable is the Democratic Republic of Congo where there have been atrocities.
Reverend El Shafie spoke to us in committee and raised the fact that they are four to five weeks away from winter and there is not even shelter for people. The few hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, that are going to be spent by Canada on these bombing missions would be better used serving the people on the ground in that country who are suffering. If we were to go there and build shelters and bring medicines, winter clothes and the things they need, they would be better served.
They were forced out of their homes. They were given a choice but they were not believers in this particular brand, this abhorrent brand of Islam. I am pleased to hear the government say that it is not Islam as the world knows it. This is a group of people, much like Osama bin Laden, who use the word “jihad” to justify horrific things. Those who know a little about Islam know that “jihad” simply means to defend one's religion when it comes under attack. It is not to go out and do the things that are happening here.
It is very important to remind Canadians who may be watching that in Canada there are 1.2 million Muslims. Every once in a while I will find someone who is ill informed, who says Muslims are trying to take over, or this and that. I remind him that there are 32 million of the rest of us. When do we see a newspaper story of a Muslim attacking someone in Canada, or stealing, robbing a bank, or committing murder? It is extremely rare because these are good people who believe very fundamentally and are committed to Islam.
Again, this is not Islam. This is a terrible group. I cannot think of ISIL members in any other terms than monsters because the things they have been doing are monstrous. I can understand that members on the other side who have the lever of power and the ability to say we should put our aircraft in the air, or put troops on the ground—in fairness, they have not said that as yet, but we are worried it might happen—would want to do something when we are facing those kinds of horrific crimes.
However, we have a coalition of 60 nations. We have among them the top three or four militaries on the face of the earth prepared to undertake this mission. They do not need Canada to go there bombing, but they do need Canada's help in this effort. I agree with Canada taking part in this effort. I agree that Canada must do something on a huge humanitarian scale because this is going to be proven to be one of the most horrific times in our history with what is going to happen to the displaced people. They have already been terrorized to the point of having to leave their homes. Many have had brothers, fathers, uncles and cousins murdered and there are other atrocities we have heard about.
No one is arguing those have not happened. What we are arguing is that perhaps Canada can take that step back from going into military action and say Canada is prepared to stand up with our allies, supply the humanitarian aid, offer support and the delivery of arms. We are already delivering arms to those fighters trying to protect their homeland, which we are in agreement with. However, it is most important to take that pause before we choose to send our men and women into a war zone that is going to become a quagmire. We saw it happen in the last war in Iraq. We saw it happen in Afghanistan where 40,000 Canadians went through that war zone. We are still paying the price for that today with PTSD and the loss of over 150 Canadian soldiers and a person from our diplomatic service.
I will close by appealing to the government side. Take a moment, step back and give some thought to the fact that this is a broader concern than just war and bombing. It is a place where we can do some real humanitarian work.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide some context for my comments by saying that neither the UN nor NATO approved this military contribution.
Iraq has the fifth-largest proven oil reserve in the world, which may explain a lot things about this conflict. Moreover, oil production has almost doubled since Saddam Hussein left power. Lastly, as for the barbaric group we are talking about today, I will not use the word “state”. I will do as the French and use the Arabic acronym Daesh.
The has a very limited point of view and sees the problems only from an economic standpoint. The government is only seeking revenge for actions that are, obviously, extremely reprehensible. Let us be clear: we do not like the murders and the way this organization treats dead bodies any more than the members opposite. It is unacceptable.
However, I was truly surprised by one thing in the 's speech. He admitted that the motion he moved will not solve anything. In other words, we are doing something for the sake of doing something because we feel obliged. However, in the same breath, he admitted that this will not solve anything. We therefore need to ask ourselves whether we should be doing something that will not solve anything.
This kind of magical thinking is unacceptable. We cannot hope to solve things this time by repeating past mistakes. I doubt that this will work because the situation has not been deteriorating for two years, but rather for decades. We are going to take the same approach and hope that things will go a little better this time, but that does not reflect the reality on the ground.
Some members went so far as to say that providing support for humanitarian aid was the same as doing nothing and that it was not very honourable. How many people depend on that humanitarian aid? Do those members think that it is easy to provide humanitarian aid in a conflict situation? The most important thing is to have a long-term vision for this assistance. We are not just talking about meeting the needs of today, tomorrow or next week. The humanitarian aid provided must be seen as the first step toward a sustainable solution in this geopolitical space.
This problem has existed for years. All sorts of solutions, particularly military ones, have been tried, and now they are being tried again. If this was the first time this had happened, we could plead ignorance. However, that is not the case, and the situation gets worse every time. The only thing that has changed is the opponent's acronym.
On this side of the House, we are not advocating sitting back and watching the train go by. However, we need to take the right train, not one that will lead us into another similar debate five or 10 years from now, when other people will do the same things we did and will certainly fail to resolve the problem. At no other time in the history of humanity have we had so much knowledge. Unfortunately, we are not using it. We need to understand what is happening, not just react to it.
We know that military action alone cannot resolve the problem. Nevertheless that is the approach the House is adopting. We know that long-term social, economic and political change is needed. If we simply repeat the past, we are bound to fail.
For example, this very day, the Americans are bombing ISIS fighters in the town of Kobani, which is located on the border of Syria and Turkey. This has been only partially successful. They are bombing during the day, but that is not working because the troops are light and mobile. This intervention has already practically failed. That is what is happening at the Turkish border. Approximately 140,000 people have already left Kobani for Turkey.
Who is helping them? Are we giving them enough assistance? Are we allowing the Kurds to properly defend themselves? No. We are ignoring the geopolitical problems of the region because it is located near the border of Turkey and Syria. The Turks do not want to intervene because the situation involves the Kurds and the al-Assad government would consider any intervention an act of war.
Perhaps diplomacy is needed to resolve the situation. That would help everyone on the planet. However, the government does not seem to want to take that approach. It is truly unbelievable.
We have to look at the problem as a whole. We cannot look at humanitarian aid as a one-off. We have to look at the bigger picture and draw on all of our knowledge.
That is why I am saying to the that it is time for him to consider sociology, social sciences and political sciences, indeed all our world knowledge, both in Canada and elsewhere in the West, and think about effective ways of intervening so that we never have to go through this experience again and deal with groups of madmen going around beheading people.
What is more, it is important to support the local people. They are the ones who will manage to solve the problem and if we do not support them in finding a solution, I can assure the House that we will never resolve this crisis.
The thing is, we are falling into a trap. All the horrors are being broadcast to the world when usually they are hidden. They are being made public precisely because ISIS wants us to do what we are in the process of doing right now, which is to conduct the bombings. This will help them recruit people. It is obvious. It is not rocket science.
The Daesh, or Islamic state terror group, is not very strong. It is definitely wealthy, structured and well equipped. However, it draws its strength from the weakness around it. The systematic destruction of all the social structures in this region allowed it to grow. It is important to recognize that. However, in the current situation, nothing is being strengthened. Every political and social organization in this region continues to be undermined.
Imagine that. An Iraqi army of 200,000 soldiers trained for seven years by the Americans at a cost of $26 billion fled from a small group of 20,000 people who are not even soldiers. A few are, but most are militants. This Iraqi army bolted. Their training was a failure. It is a serious failure.
That is why it is so important to intervene with a UN mandate. We must also find our place within this coalition.
A number of countries including Norway, Sweden, Spain and Austria are focused on humanitarian aid. I think Canada should get involved as well. We would not be alone. We could talk about forming a coalition to provide aid. We have to think about the future. We have to do more than just trying to solve today's problems.
Mr. Speaker, before I start, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the .
It is with great sadness that I again have to rise to speak on a motion that is very clear, contrary to what the opposition is saying, about another campaign out in the Middle East. As I was the parliamentary secretary when we had a mission going on in Afghanistan, I participated in the special committee on Afghanistan. Now, I am standing here again today, discussing another motion where we will be asking our great soldiers to take part in stopping a murderous organization from killing all kinds of people, including women and children.
Terrible atrocities have been committed, as we have seen. As the has said, it is very necessary to stop this organization. If we do not, it is a threat not only to the region but to Canada.
Let me talk about my first-hand experience on this. I represent a riding in the city of Calgary. Numerous reports have indicated that Calgarians have been radicalized and gone to the region to join this terrible organization to fight.
A couple of months ago in my riding, the mother of Damian Clairmont came to see me. For those who do not remember, Damian Clairmont was a young Calgarian who became radicalized and went to Syria to fight. He lost his life in Syria. His mother came to me to talk about the pain, suffering, and grief that had hit her family. She was absolutely astounded that this radicalization had taken place and that her son had gone over there. She could not understand how it had happened. She came and talked to me at length about how we could stop this radicalization. We discussed matters of how it is possible to help.
I must strongly commend her. Not only did she do this at the time of her sorrow and the loss of her son, but she has picked up the fight to stop this radicalization from taking place. She is fighting to set up a support group for other families who are losing their children to the propaganda that has been coming out from the terrible organization in this region.
We have had a debate going on with the official opposition and the third party, talking about how they do not want to participate, and they have given various reasons for it. Of course, their focus has been on humanitarian assistance. Indeed, humanitarian assistance is extremely important. We have seen that these people have been uprooted from their homes and that women have been sexually violated. The has just announced money going toward counselling services and other help.
Humanitarian assistance is necessary. Both of the critics have indicated that they have gone down to the region. They have seen humanitarian assistance. Indeed they have, and it is a priority for Canada as well. Canadians are very generous and they are quite strongly willing to do that, and they will continue doing that.
However, Canadians are also appalled by the reports coming out of the murderous rampage of this organization. How do we stop it? We heard in the debate about a coalition of 40 nations going out there. Others are doing air strikes. Others are providing humanitarian assistance. We have been given numerous examples by the NDP that Germany is doing that. Germany is giving humanitarian assistance.
The NDP is picking at everyone here to fit into its thinking.
The got up and read an actual newspaper editorial out there by this person. Anybody can read that. However, there are also numerous other editorials saying the opposition is wrong, and of course he did not bother talking about those.
The fact of the matter is this. How do we stop them? We have the expertise, we have the capability, and we have the means to stop them. That is why, after careful consideration, this government came along and said that we will be joining in the air strikes with what we can do, refuelling aircraft and reconnaissance, to the best ability we have. In the past, we have always stood up when our values have been under attack. In the First World War, the Second World War, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Bosnia, we have always been there. Now it is happening again in this region.
There are lots of excuses. I have gone to the region many times. I have attended many conferences with friends of Iraq, and all this time we are seeing what we can do to help Iraq with friends. We all came along and we all tried to see how we could put Iraq back on its feet. I remember attending a conference in Istanbul. I remember attending a conference in Kuwait, which was called by the friends of Iraq and its neighbours, and all of us were very much committed to bringing Iraq back to its feet as a nation.
Despite our efforts and everything else here, there is no point in blaming Mr. Maliki, who as we all heard and we know was not a very inclusive man in creating the situation over there, which antagonized the Sunnis and the Kurds. Henceforth all of this is part and parcel of what is happening today. We should forget all that. It is something that we need to learn and is one of the reasons why strong pressure was put for Mr. Maliki to go and for bringing in another government in Iraq, an inclusive government that would include the Sunnis and the Kurds, as well as the Shiites, as they all share one country called Iraq.
However, the point at this stage is this. What do we do now, today? As we speak today, the fight is going on in the city out there, Kobani, about to fall to ISIS. The Kurds over there have appealed that, if we do not stop it, there will be massacres. We see that today the reports are that air strikes are taking place to dislodge the ISIL fighters. This is one of the ways we have decided we would contribute toward stopping this murderous regime from killing innocent people.
Henceforth, our motion is very clear as to what we are going to do, that it is for six months, as well as which aircraft and what the capacity would be. We are all agreed on our side that there will be no boots on the ground. We have learned that the people who live in that region are the best fighters for their own safety. As it is their country, the Kurds and the other Sunnis and the Shiites should be fighting for their rights, and their rights are the same rights as ours. Therefore it is natural that we provide them with air support, but we are also providing them with ground-training support so they can fight to maintain their dignity and their home, which is of critical importance.
Therefore, I fail to understand. Yes, there is no question about the fact that we need humanitarian assistance, and I agree with my colleagues on both sides here that humanitarian assistance is an important part of it. However, as the has said, when the firefighters combat a fire, so does the ambulance come at the same time. The firefighters have to come first to put out the fire. To put out this fire here is to stop ISIL from killing people, and the only way we can stop ISIL is by joining in a fight to stop it.
What the government has proposed in this is the right course of action. As I have indicated, there is radicalization taking place, but the message is clearly being sent that we are protecting not only the region but our own country as well.
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise on this important day in the House of Commons, and I do so with a deep sense of responsibility as a member of the House.
I have said on numerous occasions, both in this place and outside, that one of the most important debates that a member of the House of Commons will take part in is the decision related to putting the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces in harm's way. It is a decision that should be used sparingly, but as a democratic leader of middle powers in the world, we should exercise it when our values and indeed freedoms are at risk.
It is also a deep responsibility for me as a Canadian, because it is by decisions like this that we define the type of Canadians we are. Are we Canadians like our forebears, who with a young and small country stepped up in the past and served in a way that was much larger than its population might have dictated? Are we a nation that does not move to the other side of the road as we pass people whose freedoms and very lives are being threatened, hoping that someone else will tend to them? Are we the type of Canadians who in a global age benefit immensely from trade in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but who allow ourselves to fall asleep under the blanket of security that our distance from these conflicts always allows us to have?
Before the House is a debate on the motion for the next phase in our response to the ISIL threat. On September 5, the outlined that Canada's initial response was to send military advisers to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the defence of their territories and to stop killings on a genocidal scale.
That mission is now over, and it is being extended. It is evolving into an air strike role for Canada.
But who is that threat that is ISIL?
All Canadians have been horrified by the accounts we have seen on television: beheadings of journalists and aid workers, the selling of women and young girls into slavery, rape as a weapon of war, mass killings on a scale that is truly genocidal. ISIL is an enemy of freedom, an enemy that follows no creed except death and destruction.
As Canadians, indeed as part of the developed and democratic world, if we learned anything from 9/11, it is that navel gazing and turning a blind eye to these threats because they are far away can allow them to gather to a point where they also touch us. Therefore, when we see some of the children being impacted by this horrific violence in Iraq and Syria, we should also see the faces of our own children. We should not allow this threat to gather, because we have already seen, sadly, that a few radicalized Canadians are taking part in these horrific acts. ISIL terrorists have already threatened Canada. With the vast amount of territory and financing they have gained in recent months, they are a threat not just to that region but to the entire world.
With our immense freedoms and wealth as a nation comes a duty to safeguard and promote these same opportunities for others. That is why I stand in full agreement with our evolving role in combatting the threat that is ISIL. We are now going to extend the training mission and the advisory commission with select members of our special forces unit. We are also going to deploy surveillance aircraft, an air-to-air refuelling Polaris, and up to six CF-18s to join our allies, both our NATO allies and our allies in the Gulf, in combatting the advance of ISIL.
This is an appropriate response because it can be effective. It can cut off supply and financing lines for ISIL. It can isolate them geographically and allow domestic ground forces to defend their own territory. We see how close this conflict is drifting to our NATO ally of Turkey.
Air strikes can have a limited but impactful role in stopping genocide and stopping the advance of ISIL.
It is also a much lower risk for our men and women of the Canadian Forces. There is risk whenever they are flying in combat, but it is a limited risk. I know the exceptional men and women of our Royal Canadian Air Force train and accept these risks as part of their duty for our country and for our values.
Most importantly, these would be targeted and precise strikes that are assessed to minimize collateral damage, both before the strike and after. We learn from these assessments. and we learn if an impact is being felt on the ground and if we are saving lives and preventing the advance of ISIL.
I want to address some of the concerns raised by the opposition in the debate in the weeks before this mission.
First, the opposition suggests that Canada is running into this air strike role, or rushing into battle, as I have heard some members of this House say. If that were the case, we would have joined the first round of countries implementing air strikes.
On September 5 the outlined our position, which was an advisory one for the first month, and said that we would speak to our allies to see what would be needed going further. Canada has always played a role that is helpful but that is commensurate with our size and scope as a country. That is what we are doing here.
Members of this House have also said what our exit strategy is, throwing out suggestions like that as an excuse not to stand with our allies in the face of this threat.
An air strike role is limited. Our crews are able to return and assess the impact of their last mission; they are not on the ground. As the said in the House, no combat troops are being deployed on the ground with this motion.
Another element of debate has been, “How do we measure success?” Once again the idea is that if we can't measure success, we shouldn't stand alongside our allies and we shouldn't hear the cries from the thousands suffering as a result of ISIL.
However, with air strikes, as I said, we can measure the impact of our role in that area. We can measure if we have isolated ISIL and allowed Kurdish or Iraqi ground forces to safeguard their own interests.
This cries out for a quote from Winston Churchill, who said, “...no one can guarantee success in war, but only deserve it.” The coalition forces, in the face of horrific acts of violence and genocide, certainly deserve success.
As the said, this is not a case of either humanitarian aid or counterterrorism operations, but a case of both, and without security on the ground, as we have seen through the tragic beheading last week, we cannot deliver humanitarian aid to the people who need it.
The NDP opposition in this House is understandable. It is a party that has been very reticent about deploying Canadian forces throughout its history. What is deeply troubling to me as a parliamentarian has been not just the position of the third party, the Liberal Party, in this debate, but its approach to the debate itself.
To highlight that, I am quoting another Liberal leader's speech in this place on September 8, 1939.
Prime Minister King, in response to Conservative support for his motion, said:
It shows how deep in the breasts of men lies the determination to preserve, to maintain and to defend freedom and all that freedom makes possible in the enjoyment of life itself. This deep-lying instinct for freedom is, I believe, characteristic of the citizens of Canada from one end of this great country to the other.
A “deep-lying instinct for freedom”: these are comments from the Liberal leader in 1939, in response to the Conservative Party's support for his motion in the House regarding the deployment of men and women at a time of need.
We can contrast that with the comments of today's Liberal leader, flippant when it comes to the situation that ISIL poses and derogatory of our ability to project force alongside our allies.
Where has the Liberal Party gone? That is the question I am leaving with the House. Where is the Liberals' deep-lying instinct for freedom? I hope they find it soon.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to join the debate today on behalf of my constituents in . I am splitting my time with the member for , a neighbouring riding in Toronto.
This is a very important debate. There is no more serious decision that can come before the House than a decision for military action, a decision to send Canada's children, our sons and daughters, our wives, our husbands and our parents to war. It is one of the most grave decisions that we have as parliamentarians.
There are many dangerous places in the world today. I have, like many here, been engaged in international work as a parliamentarian, but certainly for many years before my time in Parliament. I have worked with people from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where sexual violence has been a horrific tool of war, a place where it is estimated that even to this day, over 40,000 people a month are losing their lives, and many more lives are destroyed through displacement and violence of various kinds.
The Central African Republic is another place where, since December, it is estimated that more than 5,000 people have been killed.
Syria has been a very high profile area of conflict. It is estimated that close to 200,000 have lost their lives. This has evolved into a major humanitarian crisis, where many are in refugee camps or are seeking refuge in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
There are places that are just very violent. Saudi Arabia, for example, has capital punishment. One of the most common tools for execution is beheading. Just this past August, more than 20 people were executed by beheading.
There are many dangerous, violent places in the world, but certainly the actions of ISIL have particularly gripped the public media, the public debate, the consciousness of people around the world because of its violence, its tactics and its skilled use of social media as a tool to terrorize.
Many thousands have been killed. ISIL has been using horrible tactics such as conscripting of children and sexual violence to conduct its terror campaign. It has left many people displaced, more than 1.8 million civilians in Iraq alone. However, about 5.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Let us make no mistake. The actions of ISIL are reprehensible, horrific and deplorable, and there is no question that people being subjected to its terror campaign are looking for help.
Incredible humanitarian assistance is required. Certainly the UN has highlighted this. The Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs at the UN has said that humanitarian conditions in Iraq continue to deteriorate, and 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. That assistance ranges from water, sanitation, hygiene, access to food and very basic needs like shelter. We are coming into the fall and it will soon be winter. People do not have adequate shelter.
Also, there are: Mobile health units, especially in hard to access areas; protection for minorities, because these are the people who have been especially affected by the fighting; gender-sensitive responses for women and children who are being targeted for sexual assault; women and children who are trafficked, abducted and forced into recruitment, fighting, marriages, and as I said, sexual-based violence. There are children who not only have basic humanitarian needs, but they also need education and counselling for this trauma.
The United Nations has declared the situation the highest level of emergency. If we want to save lives and provide immediate assistance, it is with humanitarian aid that Canada can best assist the people who are affected by ISIL.
The United Nations passed resolution 2178 on September 24, which did not advocate military intervention. It advocated for UN member states to ensure that people who financed or otherwise supported terrorist activity, including and specifically that of ISIL, would be held legally accountable and brought to justice. The resolution did not authorize military action.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commented that, “Over the longer-term, the biggest threat to terrorists is not the power of missiles – it is the politics of inclusion”. I would argue that military aid is not the biggest need; it is humanitarian aid.
The question the New Democrats ask is, will military aid help or hurt?
There has been some suggestion that the bombing missions by the United States have in fact prompted more recruits to join ISIL and become engaged in its struggle. Therefore, are we spreading the problem as these fighters disperse to avoid bombs, and they disperse among the civilian population? Are we creating a bigger problem than would otherwise have been?
In other words, would a bombing mission help or hurt? What is the plan? What is the goal? How do we know if we are succeeding? How do we know when we have succeeded? Will there be ground troops and what is the plan for that?
It is a little different to say to Canadians, or to any country, that we will be dropping bombs from a very high altitude and nobody on our side is going to get hurt. However, as we have seen in conflict after conflict, that becomes a slippery slope and quickly evolves into boots on the ground because there are always reasons, such as we have to finish the job, or we are not effective enough or there is more we could be doing.
We need to know what the plan is. What is the duration? Is it going to help or hurt? Are we dealing effectively with the humanitarian needs?
We have many questions that have not been adequately addressed in spite of the many passionate speeches from the other side of the House.
On behalf of my community in Parkdale—High Park, and I do not want to by any stretch of the imagination say that public opinion is unanimous, of the people who have contacted me by email, phone and those who have walked in the door, overwhelmingly the opinion is that people do not want us to engage in a bombing campaign against ISIL. They support humanitarian aid and whatever assistance we can provide. They understand the seriousness of this threat, but they do not want us to become engaged in what could be another long, open-ended war against what or who, wondering who would be allies and who knows when it will end or what the finish line even is.
I am proud of our leader, our critics on this file and our party. We will vote no to the motion when it comes to a vote.
Mr. Speaker, as always it is an honour for me to rise in this place on behalf of the good people of Davenport in the great city of Toronto to debate the motion at hand, which is essentially the most important motion and the most important decision that Parliament is ever seized of, and that is to send Canadians to war.
The government would like us to believe that the only choices are its proposal, its motion, and inaction. However, I think there has been a healthy debate here today. What Canadians have heard is that it is not true. The response Canadians and Canada should make is far different than the response that the government is making and far different from the response the government wants Canadians to believe is the right way to go.
However, on some level what we perhaps also need to think about are the voices coming from our constituencies, what people are saying on the ground, and the concerns people are raising. I think I speak for many here.
I have received a steady stream of correspondence and concern. I thought it might be helpful to read a couple of the letters I have received into the record because it would help to frame this debate in a slightly different way. Oftentimes it is perceived that all we are doing is scoring partisan points in this place. In this particular instance, in this debate, I believe that is far from the case. It is a difference in values and of direction. I know that I stand here as part of a party, a caucus, that has a strong history of standing up for the cause of peace, for the cause of peace in Canada and globally. I am proud of that history. That is one of the reasons that I and no doubt my colleagues in the New Democratic Party are in this caucus.
I have a couple of letters I thought I would read into the record so that it is clear that our position is one that is not just part of our history but part of our job representing Canadians. Therefore, before we take a break to discuss these issues in a different kind of way during question period, I will read this into the record. It states, “As a Canadian citizen, I am one of the majority who oppose entering this conflict and want to maintain Canada's historic role as a peacekeeping nation. I believe strongly that Canada should not be entering the war in Iraq and sending 6 CF-18s and 600 personnel. This is a civil war and we have been asked for humanitarian aid, which we should supply”.
In other words, it is not that Canadians do not want to engage, it is how we engage. What the government is doing with the motion and this direction is pulling us out of our historical role and rules of engagement.