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41st PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 190

CONTENTS

Thursday, March 26, 2015




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 147 
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NUMBER 190 
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2nd SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Conflict of Interest Code

    Pursuant to section 15(3) of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, it is my duty to lay upon the table the list of all sponsored travel by members for the year 2014 for the supplement as provided by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation at the Canadian section of ParlAmericas respecting its participation at the bilateral visit held in Cartagena, Medellin, and Bogota, Colombia, February 6-13, 2015.

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 34th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning the question of privilege regarding the free movement of members within the parliamentary precinct.

National Defence  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 9th, 10th, and 11th reports of the Standing Committee on National Defence in relation to the order in council nominations of John Forster to the position of Deputy Minister of National Defence, John Turner to the position of Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence, and Greta Bossenmaier to the position of Chief of the Communications Security Establishment.

Government Operations and Estimates  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 9th report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates in relation to its study of the certificate of nomination of Joe Friday to the position of Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. The committee has examined the qualifications and competence of the nominee and agrees that the nomination of Joe Friday as Public Sector Integrity Commissioner be concurred in.

[Translation]

Facilitating the Transfer of Family Farm or Fishing Corporations Act

    She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to submit to the House the study of the facilitating the transfer of family farm or fishing corporations act.
    Many of the farm and fishing corporations in Canada exist because of families that have sacrificed everything for their passion. I know farmers in my region who live on land that has been passed down through nine generations. This bill will help these families keep their traditions alive by recognizing the interdependence that unites the brothers and sisters who take up the torch.
    This minor but essential correction to the Income Tax Act will facilitate the intergenerational transfer of agricultural corporations. Many people in the agricultural sector have been asking for this change, and it is critical to the economy of our regions.
    I hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting our farmers and implementing a simple solution to a serious problem. Having been a farmer myself, I am very happy to be introducing this bill.

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

[English]

Public Sector Integrity Commissioner

     That, in accordance with subsection 39(1) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, and pursuant to Standing Order 111.1, the House approve the appointment of Joe Friday as Public Sector Integrity Commissioner for a term of seven years.
    Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: On division.
    The Speaker: I declare the motion carried on division.

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Agriculture  

    Mr. Speaker, I wish first to table three petitions from residents of Alberta calling on Parliament to respect the rights of small-scale family farmers to preserve, exchange, and use seeds, and to adopt policies supporting those same rights in the global south.

Aboriginal Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition from hundreds of residents across Alberta calls on Parliament to call a full national public judicial inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

AIDS  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to rise today to present two petitions.
    The first is from residents of British Columbia and Manitoba, calling on the House to assemble a national strategy on AIDS, focusing on the principle of treatment as prevention. I table this petition.

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents of British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. The petitioners are calling on this House to reject all aspects of Bill C-51 that fail to respect Canadian constitutional rights; and to ensure that any new legislation actually focuses on making us safer by fighting terrorism as opposed to what this bill would do, make us less safe while trampling on our rights.

Asbestos  

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to introduce a petition signed by literally tens of thousands of Canadians who call upon the House of Commons here and Parliament assembled to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known and, in fact, that more Canadians now die from asbestos than all other industrial and occupational causes combined.
     Therefore, these petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to ban asbestos in all of its forms; institute a just transition program for asbestos workers in the communities they live in; end all government subsidies of asbestos in Canada and abroad; and stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam Convention.

[Translation]

Agriculture  

    Mr. Speaker, petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to adopt international aid policies that support small farmers, particularly women, and recognize their vital role in the struggle against hunger and poverty, as well as to ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers, and that they protect the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use and freely exchange seeds.

  (1010)  

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition in the House today. This petition has been signed by hundreds of people who are calling for the owner of the Kathryn Spirit to complete the work as soon as possible for the seaway. This wreck has been moored in Lac Saint-Louis, which borders my riding, since 2011. The petitioners also want assurances that the boat will be safely towed out of Canadians waters before the seaway closes for the season. It is very important that the government take action on this as soon as possible.

[English]

Agriculture  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition today signed by a large number of people in and around Regina who call upon the Government of Canada to adopt international aid policies that support small family farmers, especially women. The petitioners also encourage the government to ensure that the rights of small farmers, particularly in the global south of the world, are respected with regard to the preservation, use, and free exchange of seeds.
    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.
    The first is signed by hundreds of people in Vancouver Kingsway and the Lower Mainland calling on this Parliament to recognize the inherent rights of farmers derived from thousands of years of custom and tradition to save, reuse, select, exchange, and sell seeds.
    The petitioners are concerned about current and newly proposed restrictions on farmers' traditional practices resulting from commercial contracts and legislation that criminalize these practices and harm farmers, citizens, and society in general.

Citizenship and Immigration  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition follows my Motion No. 558 in this House calling on the current government to negotiate 10-year multiple-entry visas for Canadians to go to China, which I would congratulate the government on adopting. This is an important measure that will help millions of Canadians over the years ahead, help business, help families unite, and encourage tourism and cultural exchanges.
    I want to table these petitions because it was the efforts of thousands of Canadians across this country pushing the government that resulted in this positive—
    Order, please.
     The hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.

[Translation]

Agriculture  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present a petition signed by hundreds of people in and around my riding. They are concerned about the rights of small family farmers to preserve, exchange and use seeds. The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to adopt international aid policies that support small farmers, and especially women, and recognize their vital role in the struggle against hunger and poverty. They also want assurances that Canada's policies and programs will be developed in consultation with small farmers and that those policies protect the rights of small farmers in the global south to preserve, use and freely exchange seeds.

[English]

Science  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition signed by dozens of citizens from across the country. The petition calls on the Government of Canada to support my bill, Bill C-558, which would establish a non-partisan parliamentary science officer.
    The petition also notes that since 2006, the federal government has undermined scientific integrity, ignored scientific evidence, and unduly muzzled scientists working in the public service. An independent science watchdog would provide Parliament with expert advice on scientific matters.
     While I cannot say whether I support this petition, I urge the government to stop its war on science and support my bill.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House to present a petition on behalf of hundreds of people in Sherbrooke who are calling on the federal government to use all of the diplomatic resources at its disposal to secure the release of blogger and prisoner of conscience Raïf Badawi. Since his family has sought refuge here in Canada, the petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to take action and do everything it can to secure his release and reunite him with his family here in Canada.

  (1015)  

[English]

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Military Contribution Against ISIL

    That, whereas:
(i) the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has repeatedly called on its members to target Canada and Canadians at home and abroad;
(ii) ISIL poses a clear and active threat to the people of the Middle East, including members of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority groups who have been subjected to a brutal and barbaric campaign of sexual violence, murder, and intimidation by ISIL;
(iii) unless confronted with strong and direct force, the threat that ISIL poses to Canada and to international peace and security, will grow;
(iv) Canada desires, consistent with Canadian values and interests, to protect the vulnerable and innocent civilians of the region, including through urgent humanitarian assistance;
(v) the Government of Iraq has requested military support against ISIL from members of the international community, including from the Government of Canada;
(vi) Canada is part of a broad international coalition of allies and partners, including numerous countries of the Middle East, committed to the fight against ISIL;
(vii) the United Nations Security Council remains seized of the threat posed by international terrorism with the unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178;
(viii) the deployment of Royal Canadian Air Force assets has played an important role in degrading, destabilising, and weakening ISIL's position and operations in the region;
(ix) the advise and assist mission of the Canadian Special Operations Forces in Northern Iraq has increased the capabilities of Kurdish-Iraqi Security Forces to combat ISIL; and
(x) continuing to degrade ISIL will require striking its operations and infrastructure where they are located, including in Syria;
    Accordingly, this House:
(a) continues to support the Government's decision to contribute Canadian military assets to the fight against ISIL, and terrorists aligned with ISIL, including air strike capability with authorisation to conduct airstrikes in Iraq and Syria;
(b) supports the Government's decision to extend the mission to a date not beyond March 30, 2016;
(c) notes that the Government continues not to deploy troops in a ground combat role; and
(d) offers its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, over the last year we have witnessed the growth of global extremism and brutality. It has shocked Canadians, and it has compelled their government to act.
    Instability plaguing Syria continues to spill across the borders with refugee camps the size of cities emerging throughout the region. I visited one of those camps just a couple of weeks ago in northern Iraq and spoke to the Yazidis, Syrian Christians and others. They recounted their tales of horror.
    I rise before this House to report that of all those I have met, those who were persecuted, people are on the run because the tyranny that was about to be levied on them was too great to bear. Indeed, the campaign that the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has launched is also being felt around the world, from North Africa to South Asia, from social media to the streets in front of our own Parliament.
    ISlL's campaign threatens Canadian citizens. It threatens the very foundation upon which our society is based. It does so through fear, oppression and tyranny. It does so through a culture of violence, ruling by brutal and barbaric intimidation.
    Although the threat of terrorism continues to evolve, our reaction to this threat persists as the greatest test for this generation. This is fundamentally a test of our values, of our national character and a test of our will as a country and as a nation. The resolve of Canadians has carried us through wars and depressions, through hard times and through great uncertainty.
    Like every other test of tyranny, Canadians will rise to the moment. My faith in our country to meet this moment with moral clarity, as we have in every other moment that has defined our nation, will never be diminished.
     The scale of ISIL's ambition cannot be overstated. From between the ancient Euphrates and Tigris rivers, these brutal terrorists seek to establish a caliphate from which it promises territorial expansion and religious persecution.
    We know that ISIL has set upon the task of organizing their campaign of atrocities. In areas where they operate from inside Syria, they enslave countless people, many Muslims, under the so-called Sharia-based courts. They fashioned a so-called capital for themselves inside Syria in the ancient city of Raqqa, once the capital of the Abbasid caliphate. Their leadership al-Baghdadi has crowned himself a so-called caliph while preaching his perversion of Islam from a Mosul mosque.
    What has come of this? In their wake, they have a left an unprecedented humanitarian crisis drenched in the blood of the persecuted: millions of refugees, including religious minorities, fleeing for their lives across the region; brutal mass executions, surmountable to war crimes; the widespread use of rape and sexual violence against women and children; the emergence of slave markets where minority women are bought and sold as sex slaves by violent terrorists; the destruction of ancient relics and treasured religious heritage.
    Just over six months ago, the world witnessed the Yazidis, who braved the heat with nothing but the clothes on their backs, as they made their way up Mount Sinjar surrounded by ISIL. We witnessed the Syrians being forced from the Nineveh Plains, their ancestral homeland, and early churches desecrated as they sought shelter in schools and churches in northern Iraq.
    We pray for those who were unable to escape, those who have fallen into ISIL's tyranny, and those who have been murdered by ISIL's gangsters or enslaved by ISIL's thugs. We pray that their families know justice, that our efforts from our afar offer some comfort.
    Needless to say, this is one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of our century thus far. Let me be clear, this catastrophe was not caused by an act of nature. It was created by acts of unambiguous evil inspired by a fanatical ideology. ISIL is based on an ideology of hatred and brutal persecution, one that seeks to erase a history of cultural diversity and pluralism, and rewrite it based on a depraved narrative that utterly rejects the inherent dignity of every human being.
    However, ISIL's ideology is not limited to Iraq and Syria alone. Beyond the region, it has inspired a cult of violence with a global reach. Left unchecked, this terrorist threat is sure to grow and continue to grow quickly. Indeed as recent events have shown, Canada is not immune to ISIL's ideology. While the loudest threats emanate from abroad, they exist here at our home and have been felt in these very halls.

  (1020)  

    As our Prime Minister has noted, ISIL seeks to destroy the kind of open, free, diverse society that Canadians have chosen and have defended throughout our history. As this menace grows, so too does our responsibility to act to do our part in defence of human dignity and values.
    In his response to the statement of the Prime Minister in the House on Tuesday, the leader of the Liberal Party stated that our government's case must be, “based on clear and reliable, dispassionately presented facts”. The facts are clear. ISIL has declared war on Canada by name and seeks to wage its jihad against our people. No matter how these facts are communicated, Canadians know that the leaders of the opposition parties will dismiss them and with that are dismissing Canadian values.

[Translation]

    Canadians want their government to take action, and that is exactly what we are doing.

[English]

    Over the last six months, in concert with our western and regional allies, like the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Jordan, we have been standing in support of the Iraqi state to maintain stability in the region and to halt ISIL's campaign of terror in Iraq.
    As my colleague, the Minister of National Defence, will more fully describe, we have provided valuable military resources to the coalition. Through our combat mission, Canada is degrading ISIL's operations and is advising and assisting those who aim to reclaim ISIL-held territory. However, as our government has consistently said, a military contribution is only part of Canada's response. In fact, our government is pursuing a multi-faceted approach in the face of this crisis. We are acting with both compassion and strength. That is what standing up for Canada means.
    Through our humanitarian support, Canada has provided food to 1.7 million people, shelter and relief supplies to another 1.2 million in need, and has improved access to education for up to 500,000 children. Our assistance has helped to provide four million litres of kerosene to 23,000 families across Iraq.

  (1025)  

[Translation]

    Our assistance has also helped to provide safe drinking water for 760,000 people, half of them children.

[English]

    We have provided hygiene kits for 466,000 people. We have provided rapid life-saving assistance to over 240,000 highly vulnerable people through UNICEF's rapid response mechanism. With the onset of winter, we have reached almost 60,000 children with warm clothing and materials. Almost 1.5 million people received food assistance through our support through the World Food Programme. We have also helped support Syrian refugees in Iraq with food, water, shelter and protection.
    While in Erbil this month, I visited one of the refugee camps and saw first-hand the devastation caused by this crisis. However, I also saw Canadians providing medical aid at a clinic funded by the Canadian government. Seeing the tangible difference we are making to the victims of ISIL is a reminder to everyone of the important humanitarian assistance Canada is rightfully providing.

[Translation]

    Indeed, Canada is ranked sixth among the major donors of humanitarian aid to Syria, and fifth in aid to Iraq. This makes Canada one of the largest per capita donors in the world.

[English]

    We are also providing support and protection for survivors of sexual violence and assisting those targeted on the basis of their faith.
    Canada must continue to address the growing abuse of women and girls, bringing justice and relief to survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are ultimately held to account. These actions are abhorrent violations of the most basic principles of civilization and of human decency.
    Together, we are proud of the efforts that Canada and our coalition partners are doing to help millions of innocent civilians recover from ISIL's terror. In addition, and in concert with our coalition partners, we are working to disrupt ISIL's illicit financing, counter extremist narratives, and stem the flow of foreign fighters to and from the front lines.
    Through our diplomatic efforts, Canada has also heightened its engagement with regional leaders. In the last weeks, I have met with our allies in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Iraq, including the Kurdistan region, and we will continue to work closely with them.
    In the face of this ongoing humanitarian catastrophe, more will need to be done. Our government will ensure that more will continue to be done.
    I can assure Canadians that our government intends to provide large-scale humanitarian and stabilization assistance to help alleviate the suffering this terror group is inflicting. However, in order for this assistance to be effective, we must degrade ISIL. This is why we seek the support of this House for our decision to extend and expand Canada's military mission for up to one year so that, with our allies, we can continue to fight Islamic jihadism, which threatens both national and global security.
    Although we have seen ISIL's capacities degraded, we continue to see it move its fighters and material across the border into Syria. We cannot permit violent ideologies to fester in ungoverned spaces. ISIL cannot have a safe haven.
    This is why seek support to join our allies, who have been attacking ISIL in Syria. We ask that the Canadian Armed Forces conduct air strikes against ISIL targets in Syria on the same basis as our coalition allies: the threat that ISIL poses to Iraq.
    Our air strikes in Syria have one goal and one goal only, and that is to degrade ISIL. These threats cannot be wished away by pious rhetoric. Canada will not choose to stand on the sidelines during a crisis that demands both strength and compassion.

  (1030)  

[Translation]

    The road ahead will not be without obstacles.

[English]

    The region's deep-seated ethnic and sectarian divisions will not be resolved overnight. The volatile security environments of Iraq and Syria will not be easily stabilized, and the humanitarian crisis that afflicts these nations, sadly, cannot be reversed at once. While we are working with our closest friends and trusted partners, there are others who are pursuing their own agendas at the expense of our shared goals of lasting stability and unity.
    We harbour no delusions about these obstacles, but the fact remains, in responding to this threat, Canada stands at a crossroad in history. We may either stand on the sidelines or take real and measured actions.
     ISIL's barbarity is an affront to human dignity and to the civilized world. It threatens the very principles that shape Canada's national identity and guide our engagement on the global stage. Its violent ideology and expansionist agenda jeopardize Canadian interests and threaten Canadian citizens.
    When Canadian values and Canadian citizens are under siege, we cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and preach moral virtue. We cannot speak of supporting the mission and our soldiers in one breath while voting against them in the next. These serious and consequential times call for serious and consequential leadership.

[Translation]

    We must act with compassion, with strength and with moral clarity. We must defend what is right.

[English]

    In partnership with our coalition allies, Canada is working across multiple lines of effort to halt ISIL's campaign of terror and restore the stability that those in the region so greatly deserve.
    Our resolve in this operation remains strong. Let me be clear, our commitment is ultimately to the people of Syria and Iraq for whom terror and tyranny have been inflicted, and for whom must remain the promise of a future in peace and freedom.
    With that, I urge all members of the House to support this motion.
    Mr. Speaker, the government had taken the position, first of all, that we were going to go to Iraq for 30 days to advise and assist, but then we went into a six-month mission, which was to engage in combat, but not to accompany any Iraqi forces to the front lines, to engage in combat or to do anything of that nature on the ground. Yet, that is what happened.
    Now we are there for another year, but that is not the end. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of National Defence and the Prime Minister have said that we will be there for the long haul.
    This mission has no end. In fact, today we are hearing different objectives from the Minister of Foreign Affairs than we have heard from the Minister of National Defence, who is talking about not degrading ISIL but defeating ISIL.
    What is the objective of the Conservative government? Do the Conservatives plan to keep shifting the sand when it suits them, or are they going to have a defined objective so that the people of Canada would then know how long we might be in this war?
    Mr. Speaker, that is exactly one of the things this government has done. We have been open and transparent. We have given continual upgrades to the public and to the members of the opposition and we have brought this matter before Parliament.
    It could be argued that this is within the crown's prerogative, and it certainly is within the crown's prerogative. However, the government has placed these matters before the House of Commons for its support, and I think appropriately so, so that Canadians can be aware of exactly what we are doing.
    As you read out the motion before this House, Mr. Speaker, it is very clear. We are extending this mission up to a year. We will continue with our special forces and their advise and assist role with the Kurdish peshmerga, and we will extend the air strikes of the Royal Canadian Air Force in concert with our allies from Iraq into Syria as well.
    We have made progress and we have been very upfront with that. ISIL is in the process of being degraded. They have withdrawn from certain areas and have been confined to certain areas. They have had equipment and individuals destroyed.
    That said, we cannot let them have free rein in Syria. We cannot have a situation that allows them to cross the border, and that is exactly what we are aiming at with this motion.

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party has been clear that it is not in the Canadian national interest to enter into a combat mission in Syria when the combat mission that has been proposed there is unfocused and potentially unending.
    I did not hear anything in the minister's comments that would clarify what the on-the-ground objectives are—“degrading ISIL” is pretty broad—or what an exit strategy for Canada might be in this conflict. In fact, when Evan Solomon, on Power & Politics, asked the Minister of National Defence who would take over should ISIL be cleared from Syria, he answered, “I don't know how this is going to end.” This is not a signal that there is a clear objective and an exit strategy.
    Our concern is that this would enable the Syrian president to consolidate power as someone who has murdered 133,000 of his own citizens. Could the minister explain just what might happen should the coalition be successful in removing ISIL from the Syrian area? Who would be in power?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a debate sometime and have the Liberals explain exactly where they are on this thing, but I appreciate that is for another time and another day.
    The idea that just because we do not support the Assad regime—and we do not—ISIL should therefore have free rein or a free ride to move into Syria is completely unacceptable. We have seen, as ISIL has been degraded within Iraq, that they have been moving heavy equipment and personnel into Syria, and they cannot or should not be given a free ride just because we disagree with the government in Syria. We are not prepared to do that. That is exactly why we are doing this. It is so there is no safe haven for ISIL.
    We know of the terrible consequences that ISIL has inflicted upon people in the region. It is completely unacceptable, and unlike the Liberal Party, our efforts have been completely consistent in that regard. The idea that we should sit on the sidelines and babble about this and be completely incomprehensible is unacceptable to this government and, I think, to the people of Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, it was pretty apparent from the hon. member's speech that the basis of our actions is a war that has been declared against Canada and its values, and of course ISIL is the ominous enemy.
    It is pretty apparent that the objective of this mission is to protect Canadian citizens. While the war may seem very far away, is it not true that, in essence, the whole issue of this war is to protect Canada's soil, Canada's citizens, and ultimately the public safety of law-abiding Canadian citizens?
    I wonder if the minister could comment on that objective.
    Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to. I want to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice for all of his help, support, and interest in this important mission.
    We have been very clear that there is a direct threat to Canada. I have to say it. Maybe we will hear this in the speeches today. When I heard the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Liberal Party talk, I did not hear anything about the direct threat to Canada. ISIL has declared war on Canada. We have seen that. We have seen its rhetoric. We have seen its actions.
    We have made it very clear that, yes, we are there to support Iraq. We are there to support Syria. We are supporting our coalition partners in that area, but in helping to degrade ISIL there, we are helping to protect ourselves against this menace.
     ISIL has made it very clear that we are targets as well. That is another reason that we have always been so consistent that it is impossible for this country to stand on the sidelines against this threat.

  (1040)  

    Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Minister of Foreign Affairs just misspoke, and I will give him a chance to correct what he said. I just heard him say “We are there to support Syria.”
    This is a deeply complex and mutually contradictory position that the administration and the Prime Minister are attempting to put forward. It is the idea that we can violate the sovereign integrity of another nation state, Syria, by conducting bombing missions in that state. We seem to think that international law only applies when we want to criticize Mr. Putin for violating the sovereign integrity of Ukraine. When we play games with international law, we are looking at finding ourselves with nowhere safe to stand.
    As this mission is being proposed, we will put Canadian pilots into harm's way and violate the sovereign integrity of a country run by a brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad, in the hope that he will not retaliate against that violation of his sovereignty because we will be taking aim at his enemies, ISIL. In the west, we used to think that ISIL members were rebels against Bashar al-Assad, so certainly they were better than Bashar al-Assad. We now seem to think that they might not be better than Bashar al-Assad.
    Whose side are we on? Do we have any idea how this will play out in international law?
    Mr. Speaker, again, we have been very clear that we do not support the Assad regime. We have been very clear and consistent on that. However, the innocent people within Syria and our allies within Syria do need the support of the coalition, and that is exactly what we are providing.
    The hon. member is worried about the legal risk. I believe that the legal risks are low, but the risk to security if we do nothing is very high. That is something that the hon. member does not seem to get. The idea that ISIL could have free rein within Syria because we do not like the government of Assad or do not support the Syrian regime is no excuse.
    Consistent with international law and consistent with what our allies have had to say, we will join the coalition, and we are asking for the support of Parliament.
    Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt or question from the opposition side that the crimes perpetrated by ISIS are appalling and abhorrent. There have been mass killings, sexual violence, slavery, forced displacement, and the destruction of holy and historic sites. In Iraq alone, the violence has led to the displacement of 2.5 million civilians and left 5.2 million in need of humanitarian assistance.

[Translation]

     ISIL has committed heinous crimes, including mass killings, sexual violence, forced displacement and the destruction of holy sites. The violence ISIL perpetrates is entirely unjustifiable and entirely contrary to Islam. The crisis in Iraq and Syria is undermining peace and stability in the region.

[English]

    The situation in Iraq and Syria demands an international response. The NDP has called for Canada to contribute to that international response since last June.
    When I first asked the government to help Iraqis displaced by the ISIS invasion of Mosul, it was last June, and at the time the issue was obscure to the government. In fact, I raised the threat with the minister directly. His response was blunt. He pointed to previous U.S. failures in Iraq and said, “They broke it; they fix it.”
    One month later, we called on the government to support Iraqi governance and security in response to the ISIS threat. We recognized then, as we do now, that only responsible, inclusive governance in Iraq will allow Iraqis to take control of their own country and their own destiny and build their own peace.
    Canada must act. We must do so in a way that we can best add value to the international coalition and in a way that respects international law and our values as a country.

  (1045)  

[Translation]

    We believe that Canada must act immediately to save lives. We remain as clearly and resolutely opposed as ever to the Conservatives' ill-defined combat mission.

[English]

    Unfortunately, the concerns I raised when I spoke on the original motion six months ago are still very valid. In fact, I want to read out now what I said then, six months ago. This is what I said:
    The motion we are debating today is ill-defined and ill-conceived. It offers no plan and no exit strategy. Shockingly, there are no new humanitarian commitments....
     Just as shockingly, there are no territorial limits on operations. Nearly every other member of the coalition has explicitly ruled out air strikes in Syria; the Prime Minister explicitly ruled them in.
...the motion we are debating today would open that door to air strikes there—or anywhere, for that matter.
     There are also no restrictions on who could be included in the category of “terrorists allied with ISIL”. ...
    There are very few details in the motion on our deployment of “military assets”. Could these go beyond the nine planes and 600 troops currently committed? We just do not know.
     Also, there is no requirement for Parliament to be consulted...if the mission is expanded or extended.
    That was all true then. Unfortunately, it is also true now, except now it is worse. The new motion does not rule out the possibility of deploying ground combat troops in the future. In his speech earlier this week, the Prime Minister opened the door to a further expansion, saying: “...we must avoid if we can taking on ground combat responsibilities in this region. We seek to have the Iraqis do this themselves....”
    In other words, the government will do its best, but there are no promises. With the government's record, that is far from reassuring.
    There are other disturbing features of this new mission as well. Whereas the previous objective was to “degrade” ISIS, now the Minister of Defence apparently wants to “defeat” ISIS. This implies a much longer commitment. It also highlights the need for an exit strategy that the government does not seem to have.
    Of course, the new motion extends Canadian air strikes into Syria without a UN or NATO mandate and without the permission of the Syrian government. This is dangerous in three ways. First, the action may well be illegal. Second, the government has done nothing to show otherwise or to show that it takes international law seriously at all.
    After the Prime Minister belittled and joked about international law yesterday afternoon, the government was forced to move quickly to cover up the fact that it had not sent notice of its intention to the UN Security Council, as is required in cases of self-defence. The legal case that bombing in Syria constitutes any form of self-defence has not been made.
    The legal case for this war is made even weaker by a change in the text of this motion compared with the one from October. The previous motion targeted ISIS and its allies. The motion in front of us targets ISIS and “aligned groups”, opening the door to a much larger role for Canada in the so-called war on terrorism.
     Second, since Canadian pilots will be flying in Syria without ground support, the likelihood of mistakes that kill innocent people is far greater. In fact, the U.S. has excluded Syria from its own standards to prevent civilian casualties and has admitted that it does not have a clear idea of the results of its bombing in Syria. The government is apparently preparing a messaging campaign for if and when civilians are killed, but it has not said how it will prevent civilian deaths in the first place.
    Even if pilots are able to identify targets, they will sometimes, inevitably, identify the wrong targets. As Lieutenant General James Terry, the top U.S. commander overseeing the anti-ISIS operation, said last year:
     We have some great capability in terms of precision. What's in the balance here if you're not careful is you can be precisely wrong.... And you could create a very bad situation.
    Of course, civilian deaths increase the ability of ISIS to use air strikes as a recruitment tool.
    Third, bombing ISIS in Syria supports the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad. The Assad regime has used barrel bombs and chemical weapons against children, women, and men in Syria. Assad is directly responsible for a civil war that has cost some 220,000 lives, over 100 times more than ISIS.
    We have heard disturbing reports that the Assad regime is collaborating with ISIS, and Syrian opposition groups report that Assad's forces are exploiting the gaps created by bombing to take over more territory. By bombing in Syria, we reduce the prospects for a lasting political solution without Assad, which is needed to resolve the broader conflict.

  (1050)  

[Translation]

    It goes without saying that Canada must do something about ISIL. Our response must be serious and significant. The question is, what should Canada do? How can we be most helpful, not just in the short run but in defeating ISIL over the long term?
    I want to make one thing very clear: we do not need to shoot missiles or drop bombs in order to prove that we take this threat seriously. Over 60 countries are helping to defeat ISIL, and the vast majority are not taking part in air strikes.

[English]

    From the beginning, the NDP has been proactive and consistent not just in opposing the military mission but in proposing a practical and principled alternative. In the fall, New Democrats called on the government to do four concrete things: support the construction of refugee camps, help victims of sexual violence, assist in protecting ethnic and religious minorities, and encourage the international prosecution of war crimes. To the former minister's credit, he agreed to all of these. He even acted on some of them, but there is so much more that remains to be done.
    I have been disappointed to hear the new minister repeat time and time again that Canada is doing its share. There are children freezing in Dohuk refugee camps in Kurdistan. A quarter of Lebanon's population is, in fact, Syrian refugees, pushing that already fragile country to the brink.
    A majority of the UN humanitarian appeals for Iraq and Syria remain unfunded. When the need is so great, so obvious, so tragic, and so compelling, I do not find it acceptable for the minister to shrug and say that Canada has done its share. The truth is that most of those in need in Iraq are not in ISIS-controlled territory. They are refugees, internally displaced persons, and people whose livelihoods have been stolen from them by chaos and carnage. They are victims of ISIS, and Canada can help them now.
    During last year's debate, I told the story of an encounter I had with a group of young Iraqi children in a refugee camp. I hope those children survived the winter. If they did, they almost certainly still need our help. Now as then, we need to be smart about how we deliver.
    At the foreign affairs committee, we have just concluded a study that the NDP requested on Canada's response to ISIS. The committee has heard from a diverse group of witnesses, including academics, civil society representatives, and community organizations. The message from witnesses has been clear: Canada must respond to ISIS; a response must be smart, responsible and comprehensive; and we need a strategy based on international co-operation to both respond to ISIS on the ground and to prevent radicalization and extremism abroad.
     We have clear guidance in these areas from existing UN Security Council resolutions on ISIS: 2170, 2178, and 2199. None of these authorizes a military mission. However, the Security Council is requiring action to prevent the flow of foreign fighters, financing, and resources to ISIS and other terrorist organizations. While air strikes are being used as a recruitment tool for ISIS, these UN measures tackle the networks and structures that ISIS and other extremist organizations use to recruit and spread their ideology and their influence.
     The Government of Canada should take immediate and specific steps to meet its international obligations in these areas. As part of that effort, the government should immediately sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, which it refuses to sign, to demonstrate commitment to ending the flow of weapons to illegal armed groups and human-rights abusers.
     The government should also partner with domestic communities to develop a strategy to counter radicalization here in Canada. In fact, the one program that had existed the Conservatives cut. Canada can lead the way as the international coalition develops a strong campaign of counter-extremist messaging, exposing the brutality of ISIS and the lack of a religious basis for its atrocities.
    Finally, Canada can do a great deal more to help build the inclusive, responsible governance in Iraq that all the experts agree is needed for a lasting solution after ISIS.
    As one of the witnesses at committee, University of Waterloo professor Bessma Momani, stated, “If you don't provide sustainable institutions that can fill that vacuum, it will just be another acronym that will fill that space”. I could not agree with her more.
    That is where Canada's expertise and Canada's potential lie. We can save lives. We can build peace to help the people in Iraq.

  (1055)  

[Translation]

    We in the NDP strongly believe that Canada has unparalleled expertise to respond to this crisis, and we must put that expertise to good use.

[English]

    This country is better than the legally dubious and strategically ignorant motion of the government. That is why I am very proud to present the following amendment on behalf of the official opposition.
    I move that Government Business No. 17 be amended by the following:
(a) replacing the words “the threat that ISIL poses to Canada and to international peace and security, will grow” with the words “from capable and enabled local forces, the threat ISIL poses to international peace and security, including to Canadian communities, will continue to grow”;
(b) replacing the word “2178” with the words “2170, 2178, and 2199”;
(c) deleting sections (viii), (ix) and (x); and
(d) deleting all the words after the word “Accordingly,” and substituting the following: “this House calls on the Government to:
a. end the participation of Canadian Forces troops in combat, air strikes and advise-and-assist training in Iraq and Syria as soon as possible;
b. boost humanitarian aid in areas where there would be immediate, life-saving impact, including assisting refugees with basic shelter and food needs; and investing in water, sanitation and hygiene, health and education for people displaced by the fighting;
c. work with our allies in the region to stabilize neighbouring countries, strengthen political institutions and assist these countries in coping with an influx of refugees;
d. contribute to the fight against ISIL, including military support for the transportation of weapons;
e. provide assistance to investigation and prosecution of war crimes;
f. increase assistance for the care and resettlement of refugees impacted by this conflict;
g. work to prevent the flow of foreign fighters, finances, and resources to ISIL, in accordance with our international obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2170, 2178, and 2199;
h. put forward a robust plan of support for communities and institutions working on de-radicalization and counter-radicalization;
i. report back on the costs of the mission and humanitarian assistance provided to date on a monthly basis to the Standing Committee on Foreign affairs and International Development, until Canadian involvement is concluded; and
j. continue to offer its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces who stand on guard for all of us”.

  (1100)  

    Mr. Speaker, I find the NDP's position as expressed in that amendment to the motion completely incoherent. The amendment calls for war crimes investigations, but opposes military action to prevent the commission of the very said war crimes.
    In the last two days we have been visited in Ottawa by leaders of the Canadian, Iraqi, Syrian, Chaldean, Yazidi, Kurdish, Shia, secular Sunni, Arab communities, all of whom have enthusiastically endorsed the motion before the House on the extension and expansion of the Canadian military operation against this genocidal terrorist organization. I emphasize the word genocidal.
    There used to be a time when the NDP, representing the Canadian left, supported efforts to combat genocide. Whatever happened to that NDP? Whatever happened to the NDP's commitment to the international convention on the prevention of genocide? Whatever happened to its support for the concept of the responsibility to protect?
    If the responsibility to protect means anything, and I do not mean the kind that is encumbered by the vetoes of Russia and China at the United Nations Security Council, but the principle of it, does it not mean that in instances such as this, preventing genocide, preventing ethnic cleansing, preventing sexual slavery of women and preventing the execution of gay men by throwing them off towers?
    The member talks about humanitarian relief. The point of our military operation is to prevent more IDPs, more refugees, more victims and more genocide. Does the member not understand that had we not begun this military operation several months ago, there would have been thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of additional victims of ISIL's genocide? Does he not think we therefore have a moral responsibility to actually act and prevent the creation of yet more victims?
    Mr. Speaker, it is sad when we hear the minister and his conflated rhetoric. Here he goes again. He cannot get his head around the fact that out of the 60 countries in this coalition, we are all seized with dealing with this crisis.
    With the Conservative government, it is all about its domestic politics. What have the Conservatives done? They have conflated the situation to the point where they are actually being reckless in their actions. Let me give a couple of examples of how reckless they are.
    Just yesterday, the Prime Minister ridiculed the whole notion of Canada being a responsible actor vis-à-vis international law. Either the Conservatives had no idea of what our responsibility was with regard to section 51, or they decided they would just make it a joke. Either way, it is irresponsible and entirely reckless.
    It was really interesting, because just after our leader asked the Prime Minister, in a very sanguine way, if we were going to abide by international law, if we were going to fulfill it at least the bare minimum, because it is still controversial in the way that section 51 could be used, the Prime Minister made fun of him as being somehow in line with the lawyers from ISIL.
    Just an hour after that, the government flip-flopped and had to admit that it was going to be informing the UN. That shows the credibility of the government, the credibility of the minister and the credibility of this action being taken in the motion.
    It is reckless, it is ill-informed and it shows the kind the rhetoric the Conservatives use, unfortunately, on a very serious issue.

  (1105)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the proposed amendment by the member with a great deal of interest. There are certainly some amendments with which the Liberal Party would agree.
    He mentioned that the NDP would oppose the military training mission in Iraq. Is the NDP opposed to all aspects of a military mission, even if it were well behind the front lines, which is where the advise and assist mission was intended to be and was promised to be by the Prime Minister in the first place? We know it then morphed into something more of a combat role, but it was originally planned for training and assisting Iraqi troops so they could protect their peoples and their communities. Is that something the NDP does not support?
    Mr. Speaker, I know it is difficult for the Liberal Party on this one. We have been very clear. We would take our soldiers out of theatre. The reason is by example of the government. It was never defined what they should do.
     When the government first came forward and said that we would send forces on the ground, we said that we should have a debate and a vote as per the Prime Minister's promise, which he broke. The Liberal Party said that was not a problem, that it would keep an eye on it, but that the government had better not cross the line. The Conservatives crossed a couple of lines, including the front lines. Therefore, unlike the Liberal Party, we believe we should have a clear strategy with clear oversight. We did not have that.
    The former minister of foreign affairs and I were asked to provide humanitarian support, all the things I enumerated, of which apparently the Minister of National Defence was not aware. I do not know if the two talked about this before. However, these were the things we were asked to do, including by the religious minority groups. That is why it is in our motion. All of this to say that what members see in the amendment in front of them could not be clearer.
     The problem for the Liberal Party is that it does not know where it stands. It is important in this debate that it be absolutely clear. What would it do if it were to become government? Would it withdraw or not? We have said we would because we believe the smart and responsible thing to do is to do what we have been asked to do by the Iraqis, by the people on the ground.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I remember debating the government's position on the war in Syria a few years ago in the House. The government refused to pressure Russia and China into helping Syria, where civil war had just broken out. It even refused to help the neighbouring countries, such as Turkey and Lebanon, which are currently taking in millions and millions of Syrian refugees.
    The government was unable to be proactive about that conflict and now it is telling us this is the only solution there is. It refused to act in the early days of the Syrian conflict and, four years later, it is telling us there is no other choice. It refused to be proactive about the conflict, refused to help the countries that were helping Syria, and refused to pressure its own allies into passing a UN Security Council resolution on Syria.
    Now, here are the Conservatives, trying to teach us a lesson, but we have no lessons to learn from them. I would like my colleague to say a few words about.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is indicative of the government to come to the game late and then react instead of act. What I mean by that is when I went to the government back in June and said that we needed to be seized with this and I offered some contacts of people to get in touch with, it was not interested. It was not interested in reaching across the aisle.
     I will give the former minister of foreign affairs credit because he did ask me and my colleague from the Liberal Party to go and do an assessment on the ground. The problem was our assessment and what we heard and what the government did were two different things. No one asked us to send in air strikes. The government could not even tell the truth about how we ended up in the air strikes. It made it sound as if it was asked to do it. We offered it, and of course the Americans said sure. Why would they not? This is how misdirected and reckless the policy of the government is.
     I will finish with this. If we oppose the government in its direction, it is viewed as if we do not care. I would have thought we were passed that point. We saw that when we debated Afghanistan. Clearly, that is in the DNA of the government. It cannot reach across the aisle. It cannot have a debate without going for the jugular. It undermines this debate and also undermines the institution of Parliament. We should be able to bring our ideas forward and say what we think about it. It is insulting and demeaning for the government to then say that because our ideas differ from its that we somehow do not care. Canadians deserve a lot better.

  (1110)  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the government's motion to extend and expand Canada's mission in Iraq. Liberal Party members do not support this motion to seek Parliament's consent for an unfocused and potentially unending mission because it is not in the Canadian interest.
    ISIL poses a real and serious threat to security around the world and in Canada. We recognize that. Liberals believe that Canada must be part of the international effort against ISIL. As one of 60 nations participating in the coalition against this ideological extremist and terrorist scourge, Canada must play a constructive role. We must make the best contribution we can, one that serves our national interest.
    The mission proposed by the Prime Minister does not measure up. It has an unclear legal basis, unclear mission objectives and an open-ended scope. Overwhelmingly, it fails the national interest test.
    Why else do Liberals oppose the Prime Minister's present motion? Let us discuss this.
     Last fall, Liberals did support the government's plan to send special forces into Iraq to help behind the lines, training, advising and assisting Iraqi forces. We believe that ISIL will be stopped when local Iraqi forces can fight successfully against the ISIL rampage, can protect local people and their villages, can succeed in capturing and holding lost territory, and can commit to respecting minority rights. We want to help them to do those things.
    However, the Liberals did not support the Prime Minister's October motion to go to war in Iraq, because he failed to offer a clear objective for his combat plan. He failed to outline a responsible plan to achieve it. He failed to make the case that a bombing role was the best contribution Canadians could make. Regrettably, the motion before us has similar deficits.
    Earlier this week, the Liberal Party leader's speech in the House reminded Parliament of four core principles Liberals set out for the October combat mission in Iraq, and they still stand today. The first principle is that Canada has a role to play in confronting humanitarian crises in the world. That is an important Canadian value. Over many decades, Canadian governments have generously contributed help, military and non-military alike, in human emergencies abroad.
    We opened our country's doors to the oppressed. We welcomed refugees to come, to rebuild their lives here, and those refugees have helped build Canada. Refugees from Vietnam, Uganda, Cambodia, Somalia, Nicaragua, from every corner of the world, have come to Canada and made our country better. This current motion contains no new ideas, no new funds, no new proposals to help alleviate the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the region.

  (1115)  

[Translation]

    Under the second principle, when our government considers deploying our men and women in uniform, there must be a clear mission and a clear role for Canada. The October motion did not respect that principle and the motion that was moved today is just as vague about Canada's mission and role. In October, the Liberals expressed grave concern that lack of clear objectives masked the Prime Minister's real intentions, namely involving Canada in a longer, deeper combat engagement.
    The motion moved today validates that concern. The Prime Minster is saying that the objective is to weaken the Islamic State, whereas the Minister of National Defence is saying that it is to defeat and completely eliminate the group. Those are two very different mandates.
    Once again, the new motion on the combat mission does not set out any clear objectives or any plan as to when or how Canada will extricate itself from the multi-party conflict affecting this complex region, which is mired in deep-rooted divisions, tension and hate.

[English]

    On the contrary, section (a) of the motion gives the government exceedingly vague and broad latitude to conduct this war. It reads that this House:
(a) continues to support the Government's decision to contribute Canadian military assets to the fight against ISIL, and terrorists aligned with ISIL, including air strike capability with authorisation to conduct air strikes in Iraq and Syria;
    That is a pretty open-ended permission slip, and both the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs appear eager to use to it. They explicitly compared this new mission to Afghanistan, stating that “we're in this for the longer term”. In Afghanistan, the longer term meant a decade; the longest war in Canadian history.
    When asked who takes over should ISIL be cleared from Syria, the Minister of National Defence told Evan Solomon on Power & Politics that he does not know how this is going to end.
    No clear objective is not good enough. Without objectives, clarity, or boundaries in the motion, Canada's war on ISIL in Syria could well result in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad consolidating his grip on power. This president oppressed and terrorized his own people. In just four years, he bombed, gassed, and killed more than 130,000 of his own citizens, the vast majority of them civilians, and almost a quarter of the victims were women and children. Enabling Mr. al-Assad is not in Canadians' interest.
    The third Liberal principle is that the case for deploying our forces must be made openly and transparently, based on clear, reliable, and dispassionately presented facts.
    The current Conservative government has not been transparent and open on this mission, not with parliamentarians nor with the Canadian people. The Conservatives refused to provide cost estimates to Canadians until shamed into it by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. They refused to provide critics with briefings until yesterday, while troops were first deployed last September.
    It is facts not fantasy that underpin the moral value of honesty. Honesty in turn earns trust. We cannot trust the current government, which has been dishonest to Canadians. At every opportunity, ministers promote the myth of stable increasing funding for defence, the myth of investment in state-of-the-art equipment. The fact is that the Conservatives have been cutting the budget for the last four years, they reduced the defence share of funding to 1% of GDP, the lowest in 70 years, and they failed to replace our rusting military planes, ships, trucks, tanks, and rifles.
    The Minister of National Defence himself was caught in a string of falsehoods, misrepresenting a photo of a religious ceremony to promote his war rhetoric, making false claims about the NDP's past record on combat mission votes, and concocting false statistics on former Liberal government defence spending—statistics that are on public record.
    Much more serious is the fact that our military was sent into ground combat operations in Iraq despite the Prime Minister's repeated, explicit assurances that this would not happen. Canadians were assured by government and by the generals that the special forces would not accompany troops to the front lines, they would not do what is called “close combat advising”, and they would not engage in combat. However, in fact, they did and they are.
    In January we learned that, since last November, the mission had “evolved”. Canadian troops are active on the front lines. They regularly engage in direct combat activities. Unlike our closest allies whose advisors stay behind the wire, we are needlessly risking our soldiers' lives. Tragically, Sargent Andrew Joseph Doiron lost his life in this combat zone.
    Now the government gives false reasons for participating in the Syria bombing mission. The Conservatives claim Canada has been asked because only Canada has precision-guided smart bombs to assist the United States. That is false. Even Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have these munitions and use them very effectively in the region, according to the chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey.
    Voting yes now to a longer, deeper war for Canada, led by a dishonest government we cannot trust, is simply not in Canadians' interest.
    Our final principle is that Canada's role must reflect the broad scope of Canadian capabilities, so we help how best we can.

  (1120)  

    Given the Conservatives' massive defence cuts, the Liberals are concerned about asking our Canadian Armed Forces to do more. The Conference of Defence Associations Institute reported that the forces' current international deployments “mask a considerable decline in their capabilities and readiness”. Today's soldiers injured in the Afghanistan war are still waiting to receive timely professional mental health care. How unacceptable.
    What are Canada's capabilities? How can Canada play a constructive role in this very challenged region? What roles reflect Canadian values and our national interest? What do Liberals support?
    Canada can do better. Canada can act on the values it was known for throughout the world. These are values like working constructively with others, helping the less fortunate, doing more than our fair share, and being honest.
    I will talk about three areas that the Liberals support. First, Canada can work constructively with coalition allies to accelerate the training and capabilities of more Iraqi soldiers. According to Major-General Michael Hood, 69 special forces members currently work with Americans to provide strategic and tactical advice to security forces in the Iraqi army. To date, they have conducted 42 training courses with 650 peshmerga soldiers.
    Canada has a clear expertise in helping to train Iraqi forces to fight and stop ISIL. Surely there is a need for more trainers. Canada supplied more than 1,000 fine trainers in its final years in Afghanistan. Surely Canada can do more now in Iraq. We can, and must, do it away from the front lines.
    This is an area in which we differ from our NDP colleagues, who have been all over the map about military missions, sometimes talking about potentially being supportive of strategic airlifts or military use to bring supplies. Today, we heard that the NDP is not interested in any military involvement at all, while we, the Liberals, have respect for our Canadian Armed Forces members. We know that they can play an essential role here.

[Translation]

    Second, Canada could lead a well-funded and well-planned international humanitarian aid intervention to help people in need in the Levant region. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has said that there are now 3.8 million Syrian refugees registered and 12 million displaced persons who need help within Syria itself. That is not including the millions of other displaced persons and refugees from Iraq.
    Last month, the High Commissioner launched an appeal to gather $3.7 billion in humanitarian aid for 2015 alone. He said that the need for humanitarian aid in Syria is growing much more rapidly than the contributions from the international community. He encouraged donor countries to give a lot more aid to support refugees and host communities. This refugee crisis is threatening the stability and security of the region. Neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon and Jordan, have been destabilized. Turkey is feeding and housing millions of refugees.

  (1125)  

[English]

    What is in Canada's best interest? We must do more to help vulnerable refugee families, because it is a Canadian value and so that these families' soldiers can confidently fight ISIL.
    Third, Canada should expand our country's target for Syrian refugee settlement. Let us give more victims of war an opportunity to start a new life in Canada. The Conservative government's promises have been weak, and its delivery has been even weaker.
    Here is an example of past Canadian governments' generosity. In just 1979 and 1980, 50,000 Vietnamese refugees settled in Canada.
    These immigrants, known as boat people, were both urban and rural dwellers. They did not speak English or French, by and large, they had no Canadian relatives, and they arrived during an economic downturn in Canada. This made integrating into Canada and achieving economic independence a difficult struggle. Today, these Vietnamese Canadians are recognized for their successes, their strong communities, and their tremendous contributions to Canada. We should keep the figure of 50,000 over two years in mind.
    In contrast, the Conservative government has been miserly in its treatment of Syrian refugees. Originally targeting only 1,300 refugees over 18 months, the government resettled less than half by its target date of last December. At opposition members' urging, the government recently increased its pledge to 10,000 refugees in three years, but refugee aid groups are skeptical of this pledge because much of the funding must be raised by sponsoring families and private organizations, not provided by government. It is not a Canadian value to do less than our fair share. Canadians believe in helping more, and that is in the Canadian interest.
    Finally, of the four commitments in the government motion, Liberals enthusiastically endorse only the last, which I will quote:
    Accordingly, this House:...
(d) offers its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.

[Translation]

    The Liberal Party respects and recognizes the professionalism, courage and dedication of all those who serve our country. We have never hesitated to deploy our extremely competent Canadian Armed Forces to combat zones when doing so was very clearly in the best interest of Canada and Canadians. In each of those cases, the best interest of the nation was very clear.

[English]

    A mission designed to uphold Canada's interest must have transparent objectives, a responsible plan to achieve them, and a plan to exit the theatre of war. That is missing from this motion and from this proposed combat mission.
    Liberals encourage the government, as quickly and as responsibly as possible, to shift Canada's role in Iraq, shift it not into a bombing role in Syria but back to a non-combat mission, focused on expanded Iraqi troop training, humanitarian aid leadership, and a far more generous and warm-hearted welcome to this war's refugees. That is the Canadian way.
    Mr. Speaker, that speech perfectly summarized the risible and illiberal position of today's Liberal Party under the leadership of the member for Papineau, departing from the long tradition of the Liberal Party of responsible internationalism and action in the face of genocide and of ethnic cleansing.
    I was disappointed, but not surprised, that the member did not even mention the largest refugee resettlement program that Canada has had since 1980, which has been the resettlement of more than 20,000 Iraqi refugees. I launched that program in 2009, and not a single Liberal MP ever asked the government to, and they have never even commented on it.
    Yesterday, I met with several of those who came here as Iraqi refugees—Assyrians, Chaldeans, Yazidis, Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shia Iraqi Canadian refugees, among the more than 20,000 that this government has welcomed in the past five years—and every single one of them enthusiastically endorsed the expanded Canadian military mission proposed in this motion and every single one of them expressed profound disappointment with the Liberal Party for abandoning its pretension to support the responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide.
    I have a very simple question for the member. Why does she ignore the more than 20,000 Iraqi refugees we have already brought to Canada, more than any other country in the world, by the way, and why does she want us to allow more refugees to be created by inaction? Does she not understand that genocide does not stop through good wishes, it does not stop through diplomatic resolutions, and it can only be stopped in this instance through kinetic action? Why is the Liberal Party abandoning its own tradition in that respect?

  (1130)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to hear the minister sliding down the slippery slope of exaggeration and rhetoric and going right into the zone of myth and falsehood. In fact, the responsibility to protective doctrine is very clear. It requires the UN Security Council's approval and it requires the invitation of the state that the country wishes to enter.
    The minister would do well to look at his own record of saying things that are simply not true, and look at his own government's record of rhetoric, whether it is on a bill where the minister said, “You’re with us or you’re with the child pornographers”, and now we hear that we are either bombing people in Iraq or we are sitting on the sidelines.
    This kind of simplistic, untrue rhetoric is undermining the discourse about how we can actually help with this important coalition in Iraq to address the threat by ISIL. If the Conservatives actually wanted to have a collaborative approach across the House, they would not be using this kind of rhetoric, which tells us this whole thing is a purely political initiative on the part of the government and it is unworthy of the Government of Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I was absolutely flabbergasted to hear out of the mouth of the Liberal defence critic a description of the NDP position as being all over the map.
    The Liberal leader, a month ago, initially spoke for intervention but then ultimately voted against the mission in Iraq. On Bill C-51, he is against the bill but he is going to be voting for it. Last week, he publicly spoke in favour of an extension of the mission in Iraq; now the Liberals are voting against it. Yesterday, when asked, if they formed government, would the Liberals who are against the mission bring the troops home, the Liberals said no. The only party in this House that is all over the map, not only on this issue of ISIS and Iraq but on pretty much every issue in this House, is the Liberal Party of Canada.
     I would like my hon. colleague to set the record straight and tell us this. Are the Liberals in favour of intervention in Iraq or not? Are they in favour of Bill C-51 or not? If so, why are their actions not consistent with their words?
    Mr. Speaker, in fact the Liberal Party has been consistent from day one that we support the trainers; we support the Special Forces behind the wire, assisting the Iraqi troops to defend their peoples and their territory. We maintain that position. We said at the time we are not for a combat role, and we remain against a combat role.
    What I am concerned about is that the New Democrats have been talking about military versus non-military as opposed to the real crux of the issue being combat versus non-combat. They are not supporting a military mission, which means they do not believe that the men and women in uniform have any role to play that could be constructive in addressing this threat in Iraq and in Syria. The New Democrats do not believe in the professionalism of our men and women in uniform; they do not see their going there to be constructive to supply goods and to train. I think it is shameful that they have such little faith in the men and women in uniform.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1135)  

    Order please. Can I draw to the House's attention to the fact that this is questions and comments and debate, not question period, and that the conduct from both sides of the House needs to have a greater degree of decorum than we have seen in the last little while.
    The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
    Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the member's speech and I am glad that she brought up the apparent inability of the government to plan properly for this mission. In fact, it is consistent with its inability to plan a budget of its revenues and expenditures for the next year.
    I am also pleased that the member raised the issue of Vietnamese refugees and how generous Canada was at the time and how many refugees we welcomed. I believe also that we were very generous and acted very decisively in accepting Iranian refugees after the revolution.
     The point of the matter is that to accept refugees we need resources. Citizenship and Immigration needs resources to process refugees. I would like the member to comment on the resource issue, as well as on the resources available to the Canadian military.
    Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the government has chosen to bring forward tax breaks to the wealthiest families on the backs of the Canadian Armed Forces who are contributing a full one-quarter of the budget cuts that are being used to provide those tax breaks. That is at the cost of the men and women in uniform and the equipment they need to be safe and do their jobs.
    The government has a shameful record of undermining refugees in our country, cutting health care benefits, making it less likely they will receive social support from the provinces when they need it. This is a government that touts its 10,000 refugee target from Syria, yet 60% of that target would have to be funded by families and individual groups not by government.
    The government has been clear. It is the government that started the discourse when the Sun Sea Tamils came from the Pacific Ocean. It started saying these are queue jumpers and cheaters as opposed to human beings running away from a country that has been at civil war and where their lives are at risk. It is a shameful record on refugees. The government has not one thing to teach the Liberals on that.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is any more serious conversation that the House could engage in than the one we are engaging in right now.
    I listened to my colleague's speech and many times she referred to humanitarian aid. All of us in the House know that if we are going to deliver humanitarian aid we need security. We need security on the ground to allow the NGOs to actually deliver that aid to the people who need it.
    Most troubling about the comments I heard in regard to humanitarian need is the fact that the member chooses to ignore the many large investments in humanitarian aid that our government has made since the last debate in the House. On January 7, we announced an additional $40 million to Iraq. We announced another $25 million for neighbouring countries to help them with the refugee settlement issue. We announced another $25 million for direct aid, directly inside Syria. As it relates to refugee settlement, we announced that we would accept 3,000 more Iraqi refugees and 10,000 more Syrian refugees.
    My question is simply this. Would the member at least acknowledge to Canadians that the government has a stellar record when it comes to providing humanitarian aid but we need to do that with security on the ground?

  (1140)  

    Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of words in the Conservative members' mouths about humanitarian issues, but not a single dollar, not a single promise and not a single project in this mission.
    Furthermore, when the member calls on us to have a serious conversation in the House, I hope he will have that conversation with his leader, the Prime Minister, who when asked about the legal basis for this bombing raid in Syria, dismissed it by making a joke about whether he would be attacked by ISIL lawyers. He undermined the seriousness of our responsibility to the international community and to Canadians as the government proposes to take our country to war in Syria.
    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be allowed to speak today on the motion before us to extend the mission in Iraq, to expand it into Syria and to conduct it over the next 12 months.
    I want to start by saying I appreciate your words, Mr. Speaker. The disrespect and the heckling on both sides of this House and the allowing of this discussion to fall into the disrespectful patterns that we see in question period would certainly be unfortunate.
    We are talking about sending Canadian Forces, for another 12 months, into an even more dangerous mission. We should be able to discuss it like grownups, on both sides of this House, in a respectful debate, a serious debate, which would allow Canadians to help form their own opinions about what Canada should do.
    I do not think anyone in this place believes that Canada should do nothing. I do not think anyone in this place underestimates the threat that is ISIL or ISIS. Both names are used, but the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a more dangerous force in many ways than what we have seen before. They claim to have the ability to set up their own perimeters, their own sovereignty and their own caliphate.
     They have shown themselves to be excessively brutal, sadistic and to shock the conscience of the world. They are practising a 9th century extremist interpretation of Islam, and they represent a quite dangerous force. I do not think anyone around this House of Commons would deny that.
    The question then becomes what best can Canada do to degrade ISIL, which is the wording of this motion, to deal with the fact that there are numerous criminal thug organizations around the world now. Back in 2001, I do not think anybody in North America would have imagined that there was a worse group than al Qaeda. We have al Qaeda still exerting its influence, and al Qaeda behind the attacks in Paris. We have Boko Haram kidnapping innocent schoolgirls in Nigeria. We have the presence of groups that are as yet unnamed that could emerge.
    Our discussion should be one of how we, as a western community of nations, best deal with the general threat of terrorist organizations around the world. One of the ways to do this, of course, is to ensure that the west not appear to be at war against Islam. This particular narrative of west versus Islam is a rallying cry in the propaganda that has people gather.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Ms. Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate it if members opposite would not heckle. I am trying to speak respectfully. I have never heckled them.
    We must not allow ourselves to enforce the propaganda and rhetoric of those people we would like to defeat. With that said, let us move to what is being proposed in this mission.
    I did want to stop and say that I commend the administration, the Conservative government for the humanitarian efforts we have taken so far. I would have said that on Tuesday morning had I been allowed to speak. I was pleased to hear from the Prime Minister that we are feeding Iraqi children, that we are taking steps to assist people who are in situations of unbearable suffering, but there is much more that needs to be done on the humanitarian side and I will return to that later.
    This mission as described is to extend, for a 12-month period, the continued bombing in Iraq where we have been invited by the Iraqi government, but also to extend bombing into Syria. I would like to spend a lot of my time this morning, and I do not have much time, on the question of what this mission will do in Syria and how absolutely fraught with peril that is.
    When I spoke to this idea of bombing in Iraq last October, I worked on the general theme that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Canada tends to be a country of great intentions. Certainly, I do not take away any of the intentions of the Conservative government on this issue.
    However, we had good intentions when we went into Libya. We had good intentions when we said that we were there under the doctrine of responsibility to protect, to protect the civilian population of Libya against a brutal dictator, Moammar Gadhafi. We then switched our purpose and said that we were not actually there for the responsibility to protect, that we would not accept a ceasefire proposal and would not move to peace talks as long as Moammar Gadhafi was in charge.
    I remember John Baird said, and I can use his name since he has left this place, that while we may not know who will replace Gadhafi, we could be sure of one thing, that it could not be worse than Gadhafi.

  (1145)  

    In so doing, we missed our chance. That is why I was the only member of Parliament to vote against the continued bombardment of Libya. I voted against it because I knew that the rebel forces that we were embracing as a legitimate government of Libya included al Qaeda forces. It seemed all too inevitable to me that the warehouses full of weapons that were held by Moammar Gadhafi in Libya would fall into the hands of extremists and terrorists. In fact, those weapons have now been traced to the hands of ISIS.
    We went into Libya, and I do not think there is any question we made things very much worse. Equally, there is no question that our intentions were good.
    Let us look at Syria. We have ignored the suffering in Syria far too long. We have allowed a brutal butcher, Bashar al-Assad, to murder his own people. We have been allowing this for four years. Since the Arab Spring in 2011, we have turned a blind eye to the cries for help from the rebel forces of Syria and those who want to get rid of Bashar al-Assad. There are now four million Syrian refugees, and over 220,000 people have been killed in Syria by Bashar al-Assad. That is the most recent estimate.
    Why did we not go into Syria? We had the permission of the UN Security Council to go into Libya under the provision of responsibility to protect, and when we shifted our mission from responsibility to protect to regime change, we forever lost the ability to get the support of Russia and China to use responsibility to protect to go into Syria to protect civilians there.
    I would not blame neighbouring countries suffering under the burden of trying to take care of four million refugees. The populations of Lebanon, of Jordan, and of Turkey are straining under the weight of trying to take care of the refugees who have tried to escape Bashar al-Assad. Now we show an interest in going into Syria. Why? We say it is because ISIS is in there.
    Of course ISIS is there.
    A few years back we saw U.S. Republicans posing with ISIS fighters because as rebel forces against Bashar al-Assad, they were the good guys. Now that we believe ISIS forces represent a threat around the world, we are interested in Syria. Now we are going to go in without any legal sanction, without any international law on our side. We are going to have to hope that Bashar al-Assad regards our efforts as somehow friendly to him, or we could have Syrians shooting down Canadian planes.
    We now know from the Minister of National Defence, and I accept his word, that ISIS fighters do not have anti-aircraft missiles. Do Syrian government forces have anti-aircraft missiles? They just shot down a U.S. drone.
    We know we do not want to ask Bashar al-Assad for his permission, because that would make it completely transparent that the net effect of our first efforts to engage ourselves in the crisis that is the civil war in Syria will be inevitably to assist Bashar al-Assad. We do not want to admit that if we are successful in Syria, we will have made Bashar al-Assad secure by removing a dreadful force that also happens to be against him.
    As I describe this, I hope that anyone can see, whether watching from home or in this chamber, that what faces us in Syria is, at a minimum, messy. It is conflicted. The opportunities for things to go wrong are almost infinite. We will be sending Canadian fighter planes to a remote distance without the support of the government of the region, as we have currently in Iraq, and we will be doing so in a war zone that is fraught with sectarian violence.
    We know that Bashar al-Assad is supported by Hezbollah and by Iran. We know that the rebel forces include some who are legitimately seeking a democratic transition, but we have stood on the sidelines of butchery in Syria. Now, clothed in moral rectitude, we think we can go in and bomb Syria and nothing will go wrong.
    I will go to the words of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the best way to defeat terrorism in the region. The best way and the biggest threat, as he put it, to terrorism is not from missiles; it is from a strategy of political inclusion. We should be doing much more to get the countries in that region, themselves threatened by ISIS, to take on the ISIS threat.

  (1150)  

     I congratulate the existing humanitarian efforts, but much more needs to be done for the four million Syrian refugees. Much more needs to be done to stem the flow of weapons to ISIS. Much more needs to be done to stem the flow of money to these terrorist groups, and we should, as a community of nations taking the threat of terrorism seriously, work to end the threat of Boko Haram, al Qaeda, ISIS, and groups of criminal thug organizations as yet unnamed.
    This mission does not do that.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the contribution of the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands to this important debate and I appreciate her heartfelt and informed views.
     However, first, would she not agree that Canada's humanitarian contribution has been extraordinary? We have contributed over $700 million to Syrian refugee relief and $57 million to humanitarian support for Iraqi internally displaced persons, making us the sixth- and fifth-largest contributor in the world to those two humanitarian operations and the largest per capita contributor of all the developed countries. Would she not reflect on that being a robust Canadian commitment?
    Second, she talked about the responsibility to protect as it applied to Libya. Would she not share my concern that the responsibility to protect policy, as incarnated at the United Nations, is problematic insofar as it grants vetoes to people like Vladimir Putin and the Chinese Politburo?
    Would she not agree with me that the spirit of the principle of responsibility to protect applies, as does the UN convention on the prevention of genocide, in preventing ISIS from a carrying out a campaign of explicit, violent genocide and ethnic cleansing of religious minorities? As well, does she really think that Canada—
    Order, please. The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not think that I suggested we should stand on the sidelines. I just think that whatever we do should not make matters worse.
    I will start with the first part of his question. Yes, I acknowledge that Canada has been one of the major contributors to humanitarian relief, but it is a drop in the bucket when we see the four million refugees in Jordan, in Lebanon, in Turkey.
    I also want to acknowledge that when the minister was Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, I came to him with personal cases. I have many constituents trying to get relatives out of Syria, and he assisted in reuniting some families. However, now the same families are coming to me with stories of getting across the border with children loaded in the back seat of the car, making it all the way to Beirut, but not being able to get to the Canadian Embassy and being sent back into Syria.
    There is an ongoing humanitarian crisis, and our efforts so far have not been even remotely sufficient. The budget of the UN commission on refugees to deal with this crisis is coming up short. It is one of the biggest humanitarian and refugee crises the world has ever seen.
    To the second part of his question, responsibility to protect, as I mentioned in my speech, is complicated by needing the support of the UN Security Council. I hoped I made it clear that one of the ways we made matters worse was by contaminating and potentially fatally hobbling responsibility to protect forever by using it as an excuse to get into Libya and then shifting to regime change.
    The reality is that we have ignored the crisis in Syria, but now we are interested in protecting people from ISIS. Who will protect them from Bashar al-Assad?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member specifically if she is supportive of the amendments that the New Democrats have put forward. We have put forward 10 measures that we think are really important.
    I note the member speaks of the great importance of Canada contributing. We do have a 62-member international coalition, many of whom are also simply focused on providing humanitarian and non-combat contributions.
    I am wondering if the member agrees with and will support the amendments that we have put forward. I think I am hearing her say that she supports us and that there is a lot more we can do within those ten recommendations, including intensifying the aid to the refugees who are pouring out of Syria and Iraq.

  (1155)  

    Mr. Speaker, I do support those measures that were put forward by the official opposition as an amendment, and I look also to UN Security Council resolution 2178, which specifically dealt with this issue and pointed out there are many things that countries around the world in that coalition can do to ensure that we provide humanitarian aid.
    UN Security Council resolution 2178 also calls on nations to control radicalization within their own borders. In the context of the debate we are having on Bill C-51, I regret that when the government put forward anti-terrorism legislation, it ignored the measures that the U.K. has put in place. The U.K. is putting forward resolutions and programs for prisons and schools to abort efforts at radicalization in those institutions.

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would support an intervention if it put the humanitarian mission first and if it addressed the issues at the root of this crisis as well as the barbaric acts perpetrated by the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
    However, the motion that the Conservatives are trying to adopt requires the blind trust of the House. The motion primarily calls for a military solution and is vague about the mission's objective and its assessment. The Bloc Québécois stands by its usual position and will not give this government a blank cheque.
    This motion is even less clearly defined than the one moved six months ago in the House. Instead of restricting and better defining the type of intervention, the motion opens the door to a deeper and longer engagement. However, we can learn from experience, from our past successes and mistakes. For example, we can take lessons from the intervention in Kosovo, Canada's refusal to participate in the Iraq war, the deployment of troops in Afghanistan and the Libya intervention. We also have to take into consideration the complexity of the domestic and foreign policies of the countries in the Middle East. We have to consider the territories, countries, relations among the peoples living in the region and the religions practised there.
    The motion proposes that we pursue our intervention in Iraq, true, but it also proposes that we intervene against the Islamic State and against terrorists aligned with the Islamic State, including the capacity to conduct air strikes in Syria. I will come back to Syria in a bit. However, we take the word “including” to mean that this motion would allow Canada to intervene against the Islamic State anywhere, regardless of borders, countries or political situations. The government is prepared to intervene everywhere. Who decides? No one knows.
    However, the United Nations was created to provide a framework for international intervention. UN action is guided by its charter, which sets out the objectives of the United Nations. The objectives include “1. To maintain international peace and security”, which obviously includes sending troops, if necessary; “2. To develop friendly relations among nations”, which goes without saying; and “3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character”, which means solving problems by whatever means necessary, under the auspices of the United Nations.
     Its action is based on some fundamental principles, including the “sovereign equality of all its Members”, which “settle their international disputes by peaceful means”, if possible, which “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force” and which give the United Nations “every assistance”. There is not a single provision in the Charter of the United Nations that authorizes the UN to intervene in affairs that essentially fall under national jurisdiction.
    The Bloc Québécois believes in these principles, which form the basis of our analysis of any action taken by the international community in cases of conflict. Any action taken by Quebec and Canada as part of our commitment to international solidarity should be focused on humanitarian action. The Bloc opposes all unilateral action and opposes the notion of a pre-emptive war in the absence of an imminent, established threat.
    The motion moved by the Conservative government demonstrates a one-dimensional approach that calls for air strikes and in which urgent humanitarian assistance plays a secondary role. The Bloc Québécois agrees with the UN Secretary-General in that we need to address the underlying causes of this crisis. Following the adoption of resolution 2178, the UN Secretary-General said that “terrorism must be defeated”, and that “this objective could only be achieved by mobilizing international solidarity and tackling the underlying conditions that provide fertile soil for extremism.” The Secretary-General stressed that “the most powerful weapons against this extremism are education, jobs and leaders who listen to their people and follow the rule of law”.

  (1200)  

    Although the motion is open to the protection of civilians, particularly by providing emergency humanitarian assistance, the Minister of Defence is rushing to close the door on such assistance, saying that Canada has given enough.
    When the government says that it is prepared to take military action and that Canada has given enough in the same sentence, despite the millions of Syrian refugees, we are far from the multilateral approach proposed by the UN and the Bloc Québécois.
    When the government is prepared to intervene in a country that did not ask for it, to interfere in a civil war where our intervention will inevitably favour one of the belligerents, who should already be facing war crime charges, there is cause for concern.
    Using the right to self-defence granted by the UN to justify future bombings against the Islamic State in Syria is a misguided interpretation.
    The Bloc Québécois has not changed its mind and will not hand out a blank cheque. The proposed motion would enable Canada to intervene everywhere. We say no to that.
    The UN was founded to provide an intervention framework in international relations. That is what we are defending and that is why we will vote against this motion. Our position is clear: yes to an intervention under the UN banner, and only under the UN banner.
    Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague touched on this a bit in his speech, but the government has been rather restrained in its approach since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. It did not provide the necessary help to places like Turkey and Lebanon, neighbouring countries that took in millions of refugees. The government's approach paled in comparison to its allies in terms of pressuring Russia and China and trying to get a resolution passed at the Security Council.
    The government has truly abandoned Syria since the start of the current conflict there. That is partly why we are in this quagmire. Then the government comes to Parliament to tell us that there is no other solution, no other choice but to bomb Syria.
    Could the government not have been proactive before coming to Parliament to tell us that bombing is the only solution? I would like my colleague to talk about the government's approach.
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member when she says that Canada was late in intervening or asking the United Nations to intervene, when there was the debate on what was called “the revolution” there. This allowed the Islamic State to infiltrate that country.
    Now we are faced with the problem of a rebel group and the fact that the Islamic State wants to overthrow the government. The rebels proposed democracy, while the Islamic State is proposing another form of dictatorship, perhaps one that is even worse than the current dictatorship.
    To be honest, in the post-analysis of any conflict, we can always find a reason to say we should have done something sooner. Indeed, in the current conflict in Syria, Canada has been remarkably silent when it could have taken action to pressure the UN into intervening first through resolutions and then through a possible peace accord.

  (1205)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague a question about the involvement of the men and women who will be sent to Syria and Iraq. CFB Bagotville is located in my riding. I expect that some of those individuals will be asked to serve their country during the course of the year-long mission.
    The government lied to Canadians, to parliamentarians and to the armed forces when it said that there would be no military intervention and that it would not send our soldiers to the front line.
    What does my Bloc colleague think of a government that is dishonest with its own armed forces personnel, who will obey the government's orders and go serve in those countries?
    Mr. Speaker, in any mission, of course our military personnel should be informed and aware of all action they will be asked to take.
    Initially, the intention the government articulated in this House was to carry out a mission to strengthen, train and advise Iraqi troops. Then it added air strikes on very specific targets, including ISIL munitions dumps and troop movements that could be blocked with air strikes.
    However, the government went beyond the original intention of the mission when it sent in ground troops. It goes without saying that that was not part of the request put to the House. The mission will go ahead, since the Conservatives have a majority, but our military personnel definitely need to be told exactly what role they will be asked to play.
    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to join in this debate on extending our vital, military and humanitarian mission in order to help the innocent in Iraq and Syria, who are victims of this terrorist and genocidal organization, the so-called Islamic State, also known as Daesh or ISIL.

[English]

    Let me be clear. Canada has always had a sense of moral obligation to act in concert with our allies when faced with grave threats to our security and to global security. We also believe in a moral obligation, wherever possible and prudent, to defend the innocent from the deprivations of genocide and ethnic cleansing, as is the case today in Iraq and eastern Syria.
    Let us understand, first of all, the nature of the enemy, I would say the common enemy of humankind, in the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIS, or Daesh. It is hard for some, perhaps with the enlightened western paradigm, to grasp the nature of this organization, because it is profoundly irrational in its entire ideology, in its motivations, and in its actions. This is an organization that is motivated by a dystopian vision of imposing, through violence, a caliphate: the idea of a theocracy grounded in a particularly violent iteration of seventh century Sharia law.
    This organization and its fellow travellers regard anyone who does not share their dystopian vision of a caliphate as a kafir, as an infidel, as an enemy, as someone who is marked for, at best, slavery, dhimmitude, or at worst, death, and often a particularly gruesome one.
     This is an organization that, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and various independent human rights observers, is responsible for some unthinkable depravities. They are responsible for beheading children; for mass sexual slavery of girls as young as eight; and for targeting gay men by, in one instance that is recorded on film by them, throwing a gay man off of a tower, and when he did not die, stoning him to death.
    This is an organization that has sought to erase from the face of the earth the small and vulnerable minority community of the Yazidis, an ancient religious and ethnic community. ISIL has sought to obliterate the ancient Assyrian Chaldean peoples of the Nineveh plains, who are the indigenous people of that region of Mesopotamia, whose ancestors have been there for thousands of years, and who, for the better part of 1,700 years, have observed the Christian faith but for even longer have spoken their own ancient tongue, Chaldean and Aramaic.
    ISIL is an organization that has quite literally no regard for the sanctity of human life, that regards girls and women as property rather than people, that regards minorities not as people worthy of protection and respect but rather of obliteration and elimination.
    Let me share with members one specific example of its barbarity that was related to me by Archbishop Louis Sako, the leader of the Chaldean Iraqi church. He told me that after ISIL invaded Mosul, the second-largest city of Iraq, and issued a fatwa of death or conversion or dhimmitude for the Christians of Mosul, they fled with their possessions, the rest of which were all taken by ISIL. However, a handful of infirm, handicapped, elderly Christians were left behind in hospitals. They could not move, as they did not have relatives.

  (1210)  

    The Daesh, ISIL, went into these hospitals and after the allotted 48 hours had passed for the fatwa, they approached these infirmed handicapped elderly Christians in their hospital beds and told them that if they did not convert on the spot, they would be killed, they would be beheaded in their hospital beds. Let there be no doubt about the kind of barbarism, the kind of evil, with which we are dealing.
    In light of this, I believe it is incumbent upon us to act for humanitarian reasons. I believe doing so is consistent with the principle of the responsibility to protect. Admittedly, the actual incarnation of that doctrine at the United Nations requires the approval of Vladimir Putin and the Chinese politburo. However, we ought not to encumber Canadian policy with the approval of Vladimir Putin. We should be able to act independently to prevent genocide, to prevent yet more victims from being claimed.
    We also have a national security imperative to do so because, as members will know, ISIS has explicitly declared war on Canada, has called on its supporters to kill Canadians wherever they find them. It is rather evident that the two terror attacks on Canadian soil that took Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo in October of last year were at least inspired by the barbarism of ISIL.
    Had the world not begun to act, had the coalition of some 24 countries involved in the military combat against ISIL in Iraq and Syria not begun last September and October, had the other 40 allied countries supporting non-military action against ISIL not done so, had these things not occurred, it is clear that ISIL would have continued to gain more territory in Iraq, more resources, more oil fields, more wealth, more armaments and, most worrying, more legitimacy in the eyes of those who are susceptible to radicalization.

  (1215)  

[Translation]

    It is one of the threats to Canada. More than 100 Canadians have gone to Syria and Iraq to join this terrorist organization. Obviously, when they return to Canada, they pose a threat to our security. This is also the case in almost every developed country.
    We have to show those individuals who are likely to be radicalized and recruited by the group known as the Islamic State that it is not the champion of a caliphate but rather a crazed organization.

[English]

    That is why the Government of Canada has committed the Royal Canadian Air Force, with six CF-18s, one Polaris aerial refuelling aircraft and two CP-140 modernized Aurora aircraft, to join the allied air combat mission against ISIL targets. It is also why we have committed 69 special operations forces members to an advise, assist and training mission with the Kurdish peshmerga near Erbil in northern Iraq. I am pleased to report that, thanks in part to the brilliant work of our men and women in uniform and our allies, we have moved ISIS from being on the offence of gaining new territory last summer and fall to being on the defence of losing territory now.
    We now note ISIL moving some of its heavy equipment that has not yet been struck by allied aerial bombardments from Iraq back into Syria. We hope that, with the assistance of allied air support, Iraqi security forces will in due course launch an effective ground combat counteroffensive in which we will not participate on the ground but which we will support from the air.
    All of this indicates that in due course the centre of gravity of the fight against ISIL is likely to move westward into eastern Syria, which is the centre of its operations. Its capital is located in Raqqa in central east Syria. This is an area that for all intents and purposes the brutal Syrian regime has ceded sovereignty over to ISIL.
     We therefore believe, pursuant to legal advice received from our own Judge Advocate General and the position taken by President Obama's administration, that we have every legal prerogative to pursue the ISIL targets in eastern Syria, in part at the invitation of the government of Iraq under article 51 of the United Nations Charter to give practical expression to the collective right of self-defence.
    I believe this modest expansion of the mission and the one year horizon proposed in the motion provides precisely the kinds of rules of engagement that our military need to play a meaningful role in this international coalition.
    We ought not to expect others, like the Netherlands or Australia, France or Britain or our Arab partners, to do all of the difficult heavy lifting. This is a responsible democracy. Our country is a champion of human dignity and freedom. We must act now, as we always have though our history, to defend those values and indeed our own interests.

  (1220)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is simple. He knows full well that we must take very seriously the fact that we are asking our soldiers to put their lives in danger by participating in a foreign military mission. As the federal MP who represents the riding where CFB Bagotville is located, I take this mission very seriously because I know the men and women who might be called on to participate in this mission.
    Therefore, I am asking the Conservative minister whether CFB Bagotville will be asked to participate in this extended mission. I know that it was mostly CFB Cold Lake that participated in the first phase of the intervention in Iraq.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question. He is right because until now the CF-18s that have flown to Kuwait for the air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq have been from CFB Cold Lake. I cannot say exactly which resources will be deployed. That is obviously up to the commanders of our military forces. They will decide which bases and squadrons will participate, depending on their needs and resources.

[English]

    Which squadrons will be called upon to contribute is a question I will leave to our military commanders to decide in future rotations for the operations out of Kuwait. However, there are periodic rotations of equipment and personnel. We will notify the member in the House if there are changes in this respect.
    Mr. Speaker, I was reading a while ago that the Parliamentary Budget Officer claimed that budget cuts had harmed the military's capacity to undertake missions in the long term. It looks like we will be in this conflict for quite a while, based on what the government has said.
    Apparently Canada only spends about 1% of its GDP on the military, whereas Canada's allies, Britain and the U.S. notably, have asked that we spend 2% of GDP on our military. Therefore, does the government plan to cede to our the request of allies that we spend 2% of GDP on the military?
    Mr. Speaker, I should point out that since our government came to office in 2006, we have increased the budget for the Department of National Defence from $14.3 billion in 2005 to $20.1 billion, which will be the full and final estimates for the current fiscal year. That represents a 27% increase, vaster than the increase in inflation or the economy during that period, at a time during which most of our principal allies had been reducing their military budgets in absolute terms.
    We increased the automatic escalator for the DND budget so it receives a 2% increase every year, effectively protecting the DND budget from inflation. No other department benefits from that. It also has a special capital accrual budget for procurement of equipment. By the way, next Monday I will be receiving our fifth new C-17 Globemaster strategic airlift airplane at CFB Trenton.
    We have made important investments. Most important, the men and women of the forces are able to do the job we assign to them. In many missions Canada has been punching above its weight. We will continue to give them the resources they need.
     I can confirm for the House that the government will be allocating to the Department of National Defence incremental resources above its baseline budget to cover the incremental costs associated with Operation Impact in Iraq and Syria.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to join with my colleagues in this very important debate we are having in the House today on the government's motion to extend Canada's combat mission in Iraq.
    Before I begin my speech, however, I want to thank my colleague from Ottawa Centre, who spoke a little earlier in this debate. I particularly want to thank him for the amendment he moved. The amendment really highlights the actions Canada could take immediately to help the victims of ISIL's atrocities.
    I am glad that some measure of calm has been restored in the House. It was a little noisy on this side. I hope my colleagues across the way will pay attention to what I have to say. That way, it will be easier for them to ask pertinent questions, or so we can hope.
    To get back to my speech, as I was saying earlier, the NDP, through my colleague from Ottawa Centre, has tabled a proposal that would allow Canada to have a real impact and save civilian lives immediately. That is the NDP's primary concern at this time. Millions of people have been displaced as a result of the atrocities taking place right now in Iraq and Syria. Those are the people we should be helping immediately.
    No one on either side of this House would deny that ISIL has committed absolutely atrocious acts of violence against civilians. I will not go through all the incidents that are reported regularly in the media. We hear about them all the time, and we are all shocked and horrified by the atrocities reported. We are all aware that ISIL represents a threat to Canada and the rest of the world and that we need to act. However, it is not through today's motion by this government that Canada will have the kind of impact it should have or be able to play the kind of role it should play.
    The Conservatives have been completely vague on this since the beginning. Even back when we were still talking about a one-month mission to advise and support, the government was sharing very few details despite the many questions being asked in the House. That turned into a six-month air strike mission, which morphed into a front-line combat mission that, unfortunately, we were not informed about. The government will try to deny that fact, but the evidence is clear. We know the facts. Unfortunately, Sergeant Doiron died just a few hundred metres from the font line. Now the government is about to commit us to a one-and-a-half-year mission, or so it says. It is trying to convince Canadians that this is truly the only possible way of overcoming ISIL, but there has not been a real plan since the beginning, and there is still no plan. The government has not shared a single specific objective or even an exit strategy.
    We have a proposal for a mission of one and a half years, but if we look at what happened in Afghanistan, we were there for 12 years. We had a similar proposal then too: relatively short missions, lasting only a few months or just a few years. However, we were there for 12 years. We do not really know where we are going with what is being presented to us right now. The Conservatives are not capable of being honest with Canadians about the real role of our soldiers on the ground. They are not even capable of being honest with the troops waiting at home.
    We were greatly saddened, but also surprised, to learn of Sergeant Doiron's death near the front lines, when we had been clearly told in this House that our troops were not supposed to accompany Iraqi troops to the front lines. According to the text of the motion the House voted on, that was very clear. However, we are faced with a completely different situation. The government is playing with words and is asking us to trust it blindly to ensure our security. It has been caught off guard. The Conservatives are saying that they will drop a few bombs here and there and that they will feel better because they will appear to be doing something.

  (1225)  

    However, in reality, Canada is not contributing as much as it could be. Frankly, I am wondering how Canadians can trust a government that refuses to be transparent about the most basic things. Elected officials in the other allied countries in the coalition have been more forthcoming.
    For example, in the United States, President Obama was very clear. He presented the plan and objectives to both parliamentarians and the public. Americans were even told how much the mission would cost. It is extraordinary. Here, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has to fight and use information from the Americans and others to try to estimate the cost of the Canadian mission in Iraq. Under these circumstances, I do not see how we can give the government a blank cheque and tell it to go ahead and extend the mission in Iraq.
    What is worse, the government is now proposing that we drop bombs on Syria, or in other words that we side with Bashar al-Assad's regime. That is an absolutely incomprehensible decision. Earlier, I heard the Minister of National Defence criticize the NDP for abandoning its commitment to preventing genocide. How can he accuse those who oppose extending the mission in Iraq of supporting the genocidal activity of the Islamic State and then propose joining forces directly with Bashar al-Assad's regime? That argument does not make any sense.
    The country has been in a state of civil war for at least four years now. The civilian population is being slaughtered. Horrific things are happening there. Schools and hospitals are being bombed and children are the victims of horrible crimes. Civilians are being subjected to chemical weapons attacks by their own government, and Canada is suggesting playing Bashar al-Assad's game, knowing full well that he has used the Islamic State at various points in the conflict. We would be falling right into his trap if we decide to intervene on the ground.
    This is a legal mess, since by explicitly asking for permission from Bashar al-Assad, as the Prime Minister told the House a few months ago he would do, we are giving legitimacy to the regime. If we decide to completely ignore this provision of international law, we are flouting international conventions and international law.
    The government has already made a mockery of the notion of international law, but this is an essential principle. Canada is a democratic country, which means that we must comply with the conventions we have signed and negotiated over the years with other countries. Canada could do much better than aligning itself with the Bashar al-Assad regime. I cannot stress that enough.
    Everything seems so simple to the Conservatives. As I said earlier, they will carry out a few air strikes and then withdraw once they are satisfied with their intervention. However, what will we leave behind after this military intervention? We will leave a political vacuum that will be filled by other groups that could be worse than the Islamic State. We do not know what is coming. The Conservatives think that their quick-fix solutions are just what is needed, but they could actually make the situation worse.
    I want to share a quote from an article Pierre Asselin wrote yesterday in Le Soleil, which summarizes quite well the problem we are facing:
    Jihadism feeds on the chaos and violence that lead to structural collapse. In the absence of a strategy to remove Assad, victories against the Islamic State could be fleeting. Is the strategy to push ISIL out of Iraq or to fight it as far as its Syrian strongholds? Who would fill the void left by a hypothetical defeat of ISIL in Syria? If our intervention enables the Syrian regime to recover the territory lost to Islamist zealots, we will never be forgiven by its millions of victims.
    That is what we need to keep in mind, and that is why the NDP is proposing that we help the civilians who are going through terrible situations. There are victims of sexual violence and horrendous abuse who need our help right now. Canada has expertise in this area.

  (1230)  

    We can help them and ensure that the refugee camps are winterized to prevent further deaths.
    During question period I hope to have the opportunity to speak more to the NDP's proposed solutions. Frankly, in light of everything I mentioned, it is impossible for my colleagues and me to support the proposal to extend the mission, as moved by the Conservatives.

  (1235)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my friend across the way and I serve on the national defence committee together. She comes from a military family and always provides interesting commentary and input to our debates.
    I have to point out that in no way is the Government of Canada working to support the Assad regime in Syria. We recognize that this is a brutal regime that has used chemical weapons on its own people, killed thousands of people, and displaced millions. We are hoping that the U.S.-led coalition will find a diplomatic and political solution to the civil war in Syria.
    Is the member saying that we should turn a blind eye to the ISIL terrorists who are trying to establish a caliphate in eastern Syria and Iraq? Is she saying that we should allow them to entrench themselves and to generate revenues to ensure they have the artillery and heavy equipment to fight in the region and to launch terrorist attacks around the world, including here in Canada, whom they have sworn is an enemy? Is she saying that we turn our back on all of the innocent victims who have been brutalized by the genocide carried out by the ISIL jihadists?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague opposite for his kind words. He gives me new hope that we can occasionally find colleagues we can work with on the other side. I would like to return the compliment.
    However, what he seems to be ignoring here is that although this mission would not provide direct and outright support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad, going along with him and conducting air strikes in Syria would be giving him a form of tacit support. We need to keep that in mind.
    The NDP has never said that we should simply turn our backs on the victims of the Islamic State. On the contrary. We are asking the government to act now and provide victims with the resources and help they need right now. There is a desperate need for drinking water, drugs and assistance to victims of sexual violence. As I mentioned earlier, children have been separated from their parents, among other things.
    There are millions of things that Canada could do right now to help the victims of the Islamic State and save lives. We could also use our diplomatic resources to try to help Iraq and Syria build their institutions, which could then protect civilians and ensure that Iraqi and Syrian law enforcement agencies could do their job and properly protect their people.
    Mr. Speaker, there is one thing we must not forget. Every time we try to examine the roots of the chaos in that region, the members opposite carefully avoid looking at the past.
    When the crisis started in Syria, Canada was the country's second-largest foreign investor. A Canadian company was supplying electricity and managing the entire infrastructure that provided electricity to three-quarters of the country. The company was forced to stop doing that when the United Nations imposed sanctions.
    It is easy to accuse us of supporting Bashar al-Assad's regime and ignoring the cruelty of these barbarians. I think we need to look at what our allies are doing. Right now, Wahhabi units are training in the Golan Heights, and when the Syrian army tries to attack them, those units are being defended by the Israeli army.
    The situation is more complicated than it looks, and if we act without a plan, we will cause more chaos, which will claim even more innocent victims.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very relevant comment that reveals, as he explained so eloquently, how complex everything happening in the Middle East is in general.
    That is why an intervention as simplistic as the one proposed by the Conservatives—bombing all over the place and hoping that will solve the problem—is problematic. Members of ISIL are blending in with local populations. It is very difficult to figure out which rebel groups in Syria we should be helping and which groups are committing other atrocities against people. It is extremely complex. It is our duty here in the House to have a much more in-depth debate that sets aside the dogmatic approach we all too often see here.

  (1240)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to rise in the House to participate in this important debate.
    It is important to remember that our Conservative government is the one that committed to consulting Parliament regarding Canada's involvement in military engagements overseas. The reason why I am here today is that this is a specific kind of military engagement because it does not involve a state in the traditional sense but an entity that refers to itself as the Islamic State.
    I would like to remind the House that these jihadi terrorists have declared war not only on Canada, but also on our French, British, Australian and Danish allies, who have all been the victims of terrorist attacks. Members will remember the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris. They will remember the terrorist attacks that occurred in Sydney, Australia, during the holidays and the more recent attacks in Denmark. These terrorists targeted Canada, urging supporters to attack disbelieving Canadians in any manner and going so far as to vow that we should not feel secure even in our homes.

[English]

    I should apologize for saying this, but to illustrate the horrific threats that we Canadians and all of our ally countries are facing, here is what the spokesperson for the so-called Islamic State said:
    If you can kill a disbelieving American or European—especially the spiteful and filthy French—or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner....
    These bone-chilling statements are precisely why I am standing up in the House and supporting our actions both here and abroad to target those terrorists and protect our Canadian citizens. As a government, we know that our ultimate responsibility is to protect Canadians from those who would do harm to us and to our families.
     We have seen first hand that this is not a problem in some faraway land. This is not someone else's war, as the leader of the NDP said yesterday. No, it is not.

[Translation]

    What happened on October 20 in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu was not a traffic accident. A terrorist who wanted to commit a dramatic act of violence for ideological purposes brutally attacked Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who died at the hands of a terrorist clearly inspired by ISIL.
    Earlier this week, on Monday evening, the sister of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent appeared before the committee to support the measures proposed by our government to fight terrorism, and to show us the dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of letters and messages of support she has received not only from across Quebec and Canada, but from around the world. Families have sent handmade cards to show their support for Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent's mother and entire family, who have been devastated by this heinous crime. As Louise Vincent put it so well, an act of terrorism touches more than just one community; it touches Canada as a whole, and the entire world.
    That is why we have a moral responsibility to take the necessary measures to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Since this was a terrorist-inspired attack, we clearly see the relationship and the connection between the measures we are taking here in Canada to fight the terrorist threat and the measures we are taking in the Middle East to attack that hotbed of violence and terrorism.
    On October 22, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was murdered. As he stood guard at the National War Memorial—the very symbol of the sacrifice made by all the Canadians who served their country in times of war in defence of peace and freedom—he was murdered by another terrorist inspired by the extremist ideology of the Islamic State. He was a target simply because he wore the uniform of the Canadian Armed Forces in his own country, in times of peace, to commemorate the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for their homeland, for our homeland.
    That is why Canada cannot stand on the sidelines, which is what the Liberals and New Democrats would have us do in the face of this threat. On the contrary, we are a partner of the free and democratic countries against the Islamic State. We are a partner of this international coalition to defend our rights, our freedoms and our security here on Canadian soil.
    It is important to combat terrorism abroad, but we must also combat the ideologies that inspire people to radicalize and embrace this violence, both here and abroad.
    That is why our Minister of National Defence is participating, with the international coalition, in efforts to degrade the Islamic State's capabilities abroad. That is why our government is committed to taking effective public safety measures to give our law enforcement agencies and police forces the means to respond to the evolving terrorist threat here in Canada. That is also why we introduced a counterterrorism strategy more than two years ago, which the New Democrats did not support. This strategy focuses on preventing radicalization.
    We must take concrete action before a criminal act takes place and before young people become radicalized and want to travel abroad to commit terrorist acts or, even worse, commit them here. This strategy has four elements: prevent, detect, deny terrorists the opportunity to act and respond to the terrorist threat.

  (1250)  

[English]

    We also passed the Combating Terrorism Act, which made it illegal to travel for terrorist purposes. This is an important legislation to combat the recent phenomenon of western-based individuals, including, unfortunately, a number of Canadians, who have become radicalized and are seeking to travel to Iraq and Syria to fight with the Islamic State.
    However, we must go further, because as we speak, we do not have the capability to prevent these individuals from boarding an airplane if we have reason to believe that they are willing to commit a terrorist attack. That is why the legislation before the House, the anti-terrorism act, is to important.
    I am more than open to answer questions, but we need to track terrorists abroad and at home. That is why this government has a coherent approach to target those who want to harm us here on Canadian soil.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to ask the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness questions about government Motion No. 17.
    I am very proud of my party's position. In our careers as politicians, we may never be asked to make a decision more important than the one we are making today. I take this role very seriously. I always take exception when opposing positions are attacked as being ridiculous or are belittled. That certainly does nothing to elevate the debate.
    That being said, the minister made a point of talking about something he might be more familiar with in his role as the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and that is deradicalization, if I can put it that way. I am curious to know whether in Motion No. 17, the minister sees any commitment by his government to counter this radicalization on Canadian soil. I do not see any such commitment in any part of the motion. No reference is made to it whatsoever.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. I believe it is important to refer to the facts in a debate. When our government wanted to introduce a counterterrorism strategy, the NDP opposed it. That is a fact. The votes are on the record.
    Likewise, the opposition did not support us when we wanted to ensure that passports are revoked from people who travel abroad to take part in terrorist activities, let alone when it came to revoking the citizenship of those convicted of terrorist activities. Those are the facts.
    As we speak, my Conservative colleagues are listening to evidence, such as that provided by Louise Vincent, the sister of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. This morning, we heard from the representative of a Muslim association who supported Bill C-51.
    That anti-terrorism bill contains a number of provisions to improve our radicalization prevention measures. The NDP does not want us to have effective tools to protect the public.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there do not seem to be that many people interested in discussing this matter on the other side, but I appreciate the opportunity after my learned colleague.
    I listened intently when the Minister of National Defence spoke, and similar to the issue that my colleague has just raised, the Minister of Public Safety is saying that this motion also deals with trying to prevent radicalization in this country, which seems to be absent in the motion.
    Another thing is absent in this motion. Even though the Minister of National Defence started out by saying that the motion is all about humanitarian aid, invoking our troops in military combat, there is absolutely nothing in the motion that mentions humanitarian aid.
    The minister spoke of supporting greater humanitarian aid to these areas under strife and turmoil, which is appreciated. If the minister is so strongly committed to what he has said, then it would follow that he would support the amendments that we put forward that call for greater engagement, such as Canada boosting humanitarian aid, stabilizing neighbouring countries and strengthening political institutions. Does the minister in fact support those measures that we have put forward?

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is a clear link between terrorism that took place here and what is taking place in the Islamic State. That is what my speech was all about.
    It is because people here on our Canadian soil are inspired and activated by this terrorist threat abroad. The core of the problem is over there, and it is also here. That is why we have to work on both fronts. Attacking one does not excuse not attacking the other.
    We have seen Canadians willing to travel abroad. We have begun to destroy and degrade the capability of ISIS with our allies. We cannot stop halfway. We have to go on and continue with what we have been successfully doing.
    That is why the mission abroad is important. That is why our actions here are important.
    Mr. Speaker, the issue before this House right now is a serious one, an issue that raises serious questions, and I think it gets to the heart of some of the most important and profound subjects that can be debated in the House of Commons.
    We have the spectre of violent movements in the world, and that spectre is real. It is serious. Acts of oppression, of kidnapping, of rape, of ethnic and cultural targeting, of armed conflict and violence are present all over the world.
    We have ISIL in Iraq, Boko Haram in Nigeria, events in Ukraine, civil war in Syria, recent conflicts in Israel and Gaza, tension in the Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and conflicts all over Africa and in the second and third world.
    The government today is asking this Parliament and the Canadian people to commit Canada to war in one of these conflicts. The Conservatives assert that the acts of ISIL in Iraq are of such a nature that war is the only reasonable response of Canada, and that ISIL in Iraq represents a threat to Canadians here at home. I respectfully disagree with these assertions.
    I have been privileged to represent the good people of Vancouver Kingsway in this House for the last seven years, and we debate many important issues and have done so over that time, but in my view, no issue is more important or warrants more serious scrutiny and attention than discussion of committing our troops and committing Canada to war.
    I would like to start in my remarks with a review of some history. The old adage that those who do not pay attention to history are doomed to repeat it, I think, is time-tested and true. I will review what has been the experience of the west in terms of western military interventions in the Middle East.
    Let us just take a brief synopsis of the last 30 years. In Afghanistan in the 1980s, the United States armed the Taliban. At that time the Taliban was the Americans' friend when it was attacking the Soviets. It did not matter to the Americans at that time that the Taliban's orthodoxy, doctrines, or dogma were oppressive, misogynist, sexist, and culturally intolerant and insensitive. At that time the United States armed it because they had a common mutual enemy.
    Then 9/11 happened. The U.S. demanded the Afghani government deliver up what it believed were the perpetrators of 9/11 who had been, in its view, hiding in Afghanistan. When the Afghani government either could not or would not do so, the United States and a coalition of western countries attacked Afghanistan, including Canada.
    Canada was mired in Afghanistan for 10 years. We lost well over 150 brave soldiers. Thousands more Canadian soldiers were injured, traumatized to this day, and Canada spent billions of dollars in Afghanistan.
    What is Afghanistan like today? It is not a democracy. Tribal divisions are intact. Opium production is at record levels. It is a country that has been devastated, where western values have failed to take root and in fact are rejected today as strongly as they have ever been.
    Let us talk about Libya. Just a few years ago in this House the government stood here and said it had to commit Canadian Forces to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, and the opposition, despite what the Minister of National Defence has erroneously told the Canadian public, endorsed that mission. We warned, however, at that time that we would not support a mission that morphed into a regime-change one, and that is exactly what happened.
     We committed to a mission that eventually resulted in the removal of the Gadhafi regime in Libya, and what happened as a result of that military intervention? The country descended into chaos, with violence on an almost unprecedented level today. There is no democracy, stability, justice, or rule of law in Libya today. I have not heard the Conservatives say a word about the situation in Libya since they urged the Canadian public to go to Libya to remove a despotic government, and they have run away from accountability for those actions.

  (1300)  

    We have the other example of Iraq. I have a feeling of déjà vu today, because this is not the first time that a western country has been asked to intervene in Iraq in a military manner. In 2003, the United States led a coalition and attacked Iraq. This was based, as we now know, on fabrications and outright deception. Iraq was accused of importing yellow cake uranium from Africa to fuel its nuclear program. It was accused of developing weapons of mass destruction. American diplomats at the highest levels asserted that this was the case. It turned out that these were outright lies, absolute fabrications.
    Massive military force was unleashed on Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed. Massive infrastructure damage totalling in the billions of dollars was inflicted on Iraq. Regime change occurred. Saddam Hussein was removed and replaced with what the west said was a better government, the government of Mr. Maliki. What happened after we installed him? There was brutal oppression of minorities, corruption on a massive scale, no democracy taking root, and a country shattered, divided, and socially fractured.
    As a result of massive bombing in 2003, which we said was going to restore democracy, human rights, and the rule of law to Iraq, where are we today in 2015? We have ISIL in Iraq. One could argue that not only did military intervention not accomplish any of the goals that always are the goals asserted at the beginning of a mission, but they created the opposite situation. There was no ISIS or ISIL back in 2003. There is today.
    If bombing and military intervention is a way to make Iraq and countries around that region safer and more conforming to western norms, then that would have been the case after massive bombing and military intervention occurred for eight years and eight months, from 2003 to 2011. Thirty years of a western approach to countries in the Middle East and that region based on violence, based on military intervention, and based on deception, have resulted in only one conclusion for anyone who is viewing the situation objectively: an utter, absolute failure to meet any of the objectives that were stated at the beginning of those missions. Worse, there is a complete absence of accountability on behalf of governments like the Canadian government, like the American government, or the British government, who told the people of these countries that they should be intervening in these countries to make their population safer. It has made the world more dangerous.
    What should Canada do? Canadians whom I talk to and represent want a different foreign policy from that characterized by the current government, different from the one characterized by war and military intervention and demonizing and jingoistic exhortations to violence. They want a Canada that resorts to our history, which characterizes our foreign policy for most of our time as a country, where Canada was a peacekeeper, where Canada was a peacemaker, where Canada was regarded as an honest broker on the world stage, where Canada was regarded as a fair dealer, where we practised diplomacy and took a leadership role.
    There are other ways that Canada can be addressing this very serious problem. We could shift Canada's warlike approach to one of democracy building. We could help countries like Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen develop democratic responsible governments that build respectful rights-based societies. We can help these countries build strong civil societies, assist with constitution making, help them build public infrastructure, help them raise the educational levels of their populations, help with poverty alleviation, provide economic aid, and provide humanitarian assistance. These are the roles that stand in contrast to the one being proposed to us here today, which is, “Here is how we can help the people of Iraq: We will go in and add more violence to a violent situation”. The biggest myth of all is that this will make Canadians safer.

  (1305)  

    The truth is that we have not had one ISIL-inspired terrorist attack on this soil yet, objectively; not one. However, if Canada commits to force and starts bombing ISIL and ISIS positions in Iraq, it is a matter of logic that it would increase the chances that those people would feel entitled to take retributive action here in Canada.
    To keep Canadians safe and to restore Canada to a position on the world stage that Canadians want, I urge all members of this House to reject this ill-conceived motion that is not based in fact and has even less logic and principle behind it than any other motion I have seen in this House.
    Mr. Speaker, there is much to discuss about the motion that is before us today. I know that I was really taken when the leader of the Liberal Party emphasized how important it is for us to understand what is happening in Syria, where the government is trying to move us into taking action.
    It was interesting when he cited that the United Nations is telling us that, after four years of all-out war, more than 11 million Syrians have been driven from their homes, which is over half the population. Syrians are fleeing their country by the millions. He said that this exodus of refugees is causing a terrible crisis. In five years of combat, more than 210,000 Syrians have been killed, including more than 10,000 children. This is something that the leader of the Liberal Party brought to the House's attention in addressing the motion.
    The question I have for the member is this. Does he believe that the government is even considering the many other options for a role for Canada to play in assisting, let alone what is taking place in Syria today?
    Mr. Speaker, the short answer is no. I do not believe that the government is seriously considering that.
    I want to quote one of my constituents who wrote to me and who answered that question directly. He wrote to me and said:
    The “conservative” election propaganda is been unbundled and the Prime Minister seems to be shifting his strategic emphasis from the economy to terrorism. Prime Minister Harper is reported to have said that “Jihadi terrorism is one of the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced” and “a great evil has descended on our world.” Does this alarming rhetoric sound familiar? Have we forgotten the "axis of evil" speech by President Bush more than a decade ago?
    Information and government actions are again being shaped to sell security and military policies? In a democracy perception management is not a substitute for government accountability and transparency? A discussion of the recent experience, current objectives and policy options would better serve our democracy?
     That was Dr. Robin Hanvelt who wrote to me.
    The nub of what he is saying is that he, as a Canadian voter, is perceiving that the current government is using the external threat of ISIS and ISIL to shape the political debate in this country, not coincidentally because we have an election coming up.
     I do not think there is a real consideration, as my friend suggested, of alternatives to deal with the real humanitarian issues facing people in Syria and Iraq.

  (1310)  

    Before we go to questions and comments, I will just remind all hon. members that it is not permitted, of course, to use the names of other hon. members, even when the names actually appear in something that the hon. member might be citing in the course of his comments. I am sure the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway is aware of that; nonetheless, those things do occur from time to time.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, does my colleague believe that, by using the same recipe in Syria as in Iraq, there is a slim chance that the outcome will be different?
    We are seeing what happens wherever this type of intervention has been undertaken, like in Libya. Libya was freed from a horrible dictator, and it is now under two dictatorships, one in Parliament and one on a boat, off the coast. Libya is now the most unsafe country in the entire region.
    Is it not a bit ridiculous to imagine that the same recipe will yield a different outcome?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is my view that we cannot bomb a nation into changing its values. We cannot force a country by force of arms to build a legitimate homegrown democracy or the rule of law. If that were the case, then today we would have thriving democracies in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and Syria. We do not.
    The truth is, after decades of military intervention, billions of taxpayer dollars, and massive loss of life, we do not have democratic regimes. We do not have peaceful societies. We do not have harmonious countries. We do not have functioning countries in those areas.
    Just as a matter of fact and evidence, I would think this would be enough to prove to the government that adding more bombing and violence to the situation in Iraq, regardless of how serious the ISIL situation is, is not an approach that is going to make anyone any safer, not there or here.
    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House to speak on an issue that is of grave importance to Canadians and to free and democratic societies.
    Today's debate on Canada's role in the international effort to combat ISIL is, indeed, an important one. As we all know, ISIL is, simply put, a group of inhuman barbarians. It exists to create havoc and to infringe on global security from the Middle East to right here at home. It is a threat to basic humanity and is a murderous threat to even innocent children.
    The opposition does not want to stand up to this barbaric organization motivated by a culture of brutality and murder. Listen to the words of the NDP leader only last week on this very issue. He stated:
    [T]here's no reason for us to be involved....
    Although no one’s trying to understate the horrors of what’s occurring there, the question is, “Is that Canada’s fight?”
    I take exception to these comments from the opposition that pay more lip service than actual contribution to dealing with the horrors ISIL has wrought, especially on the most innocent of them all, that being children.
     Canada cannot simply stand by as ISIL barbarians slaughter innocent men, women, and children. As it collects women and children as sex slaves and breeds terrorism globally, as we have seen right here on Canadian soil, the leader of the NDP loudly proclaims that this is not Canada's fight. However, throughout our history, Canada has stood up when peace, safety, and security were threatened. As a nation, we have always been deeply committed to defending freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
    I know it will be uncomfortable for some to hear, but I want the House to fully understand the evil we are actually dealing with. It is all too easy in this debate to consider a mission against ISIL in the abstract, to forget the unspeakable crimes against humanity committed by this radicalized group. That is why I am going to speak of the unspeakable. For that, I will refer to the February 2015 report of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child entitled, “Concluding observations on the combined second to fourth periodic reports of Iraq”. I will quote from that report, which states:
     The Committee abhors and condemns the targeted and brutal killings of children by the so-called ISIL and in particular: (a) The systematic killing of children belonging to religious and ethnic minorities by the so-called ISIL, including several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings and crucifixions of children and the burying of children alive....
    The report further goes further to state that there are a high number of children who have been abducted by the so-called ISIL:
...many of whom are severely traumatized from witnessing the murder of their parents and are subjected to physical and sexual assault.
    Let those words sink in: beheadings, crucifixions, and burying children alive. Again, I ask the opposition, should Canada simply stand by on preventing these horrendous acts committed against children and not consider it Canada's fight?
     I ask the opposition to read this United Nations report. I ask it to fully grasp the inhumane and deplorable acts ISIL has committed, acts such as, quoting again directly from the report:
...the continuing sexual enslavement of children since the emergence of the so-called ISIL, in particular of children belonging to minority groups who are held by the so-called ISIL. It notes with the utmost concern the “markets” set up by ISIL, in which they sell abducted children and women attaching price tags to them; and the sexual enslavement of children detained in makeshift prisons of ISIL....

  (1315)  

    Renate Winter, the well-respected international judicial expert who founded the International Institute for the Rights of the Child, is an expert who helped draft the United Nations report. I ask the opposition to hear her words. She stated:
     We are really deeply concerned at torture and murder of those children, especially those belonging to minorities, but not only from minorities. The scope of the problem is huge.
    Ms. Winter went on to say:
     We have had reports of children, especially children who are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding.
    Mentally challenged children have been used as suicide bombers and other children have been tortured mercilessly. I know that many members of this House have been blessed to have children of their own, and some, like me, have grandchildren. We must think of our own children and our own grandchildren being tortured, sold as slaves, forced to be suicide bombers, raped, and murdered. That is the stark reality of what ISIL is doing as we speak.
     We can look at what ISIL did in places like Ar-Raqqah last May. We can look at the photos of people being crucified or decapitated. We can think about the Yezidis, a peaceful religious minority group in a mountain town that was targeted and surrounded by ISIL until its members faced starvation, dehydration, and eventually death. Some escaped, but many did not.
    We can look at the many videos of the beheadings ISIL has produced and posted widely for all to see, such as of James Foley, a freelance journalist, who had his head sawed off as the ISIL barbarians cheered. We can watch the more recent videos of ISIL beheading 21 Coptic Christians on the shores of Tripoli. This is the reality of the ISIL terror we all face.
     Does the NDP not think this is Canada's fight? I suggest that it is. Everyone is disgusted and repulsed by these acts performed by a death cult of barbaric thugs with no moral compass. Why would the NDP have Canada stand by and do nothing?
    Even though I have spent over 40 years in law enforcement combatting the worst criminals and witnessing horrific crimes, I can only begin to grasp the destruction and havoc created by ISIL. Families have been murdered and destroyed. Mothers' hearts have been broken. Children have been buried alive.
    Canada has a duty, and indeed a responsibility, to confront this evil alongside our growing list of allies from all regions of the globe, a coalition, of which Canada has been very much a part, that to date has halted the advance of ISIL, regained strategic territory, and significantly degraded ISIL's capabilities.
     The opposition would take an isolationist stand. The opposition has claimed that this is a distant threat, not Canada's concern or problem. However, that is not the case here. From the great wars to the Canadian peacekeeping missions in places like Rwanda, the Congo, and elsewhere, Canada has stood up to terror.
    I would also remind Canadians of the attacks and threats made by ISIL against Canada right here at home. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed by a violent jihadist in Quebec, and Corporal Nathan Cirillo was murdered point blank here in Ottawa.
    Make no mistake: the international jihadi movement, ISIL, has declared war on Canada. As a government, it is our moral duty to protect Canadians from those who would do us harm. To sit on the sidelines is to let evil thrive.
    I hope the opposition will join our government in support of this mission. However, with or without the support of the Liberals and the NDP, we will confront this evil and protect the safety and security of Canadians. Our government is proud of the work done by our brave men and women in uniform. We will continue to support them as we continue to fight this evil.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, I resent the expression from the minister that the NDP stands for nothing on the situation.
    I read the amendments that were proposed by our foreign affairs critic carefully. Here are just a few:
...boost humanitarian aid in areas where there would be immediate, life-saving impact, including assisting refugees with basic shelter and food needs;
....work with our allies in the region to stabilize neighbouring countries, strengthen political institutions and assist these countries in coping with an influx of refugees;
...contribute to the fight against ISIL, including military support for the transportation of weapons;
...provide assistance to investigation and prosecution of war crimes;
...increase assistance for the care and resettlement of refugees impacted by this conflict;
...work to prevent the flow of foreign fighters, finances, and resources to ISIL, in accordance with our international obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2170, 2178, and 2199;
...put forward a robust plan of support for communities and institutions working on de-radicalization and counter-radicalization;
    Are all these nothing in the eyes of the minister?
    Mr. Speaker, if the NDP is really serious about fulfilling the responsibilities that we as Canadians have toward countering this very serious threat that is in fact also targeting Canada and Canadians, they should join with us and champion this work. We could all feel that much better for our collective involvement here.
    Just to be specific on the issue of humanitarian aid, Canada is already doing a great deal of work in that particular area. It is a two-pronged approach, involving both military support and humanitarian aid. The military components allow for the aid to flow to more areas and allow for more accountability and security. That, of course, is what aid workers need. We cannot help these people in need with this threat looming over their heads.

  (1325)  

    Mr. Speaker, I was listening with interest to the minister's remarks. I was very disappointed that it was really a long list of graphic atrocities.
    Yes, we understand those atrocities are happening, but we are trying to have a debate in this country, a debate that educates people as to the complexities of the situation, a debate that educates people as to what is in the Canadian interest, what is good public policy, and what the ways are that Canada can contribute.
    The minister wants to just narrow this down to the Conservative playbook, which, in a previous bill with a previous minister, was called “You are with us or you are with the child pornographers.” Canadians do not buy that kind of simplistic rhetoric, and I would appreciate it if the minister could discuss the importance of the diplomatic efforts to bring people together in this region so that there is respect for minority communities as ISIL is removed from areas.
    As to the ethnic cleansing that has happened in some of those areas, how can that be stopped through the good work of the government and the minister's departmental officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs?
    Mr. Speaker, none of these things are mutually exclusive.
    As I indicated earlier, we are operating on the humanitarian front very actively and every effectively, to the extent that we can. However, until such time as the threat of terrorism and the atrocities and inhumanities that are taking place in that part of the country are stopped, the effort and impact will be greatly diminished.
    We are not alone. From what I understand, most Canadians are on side. Let me read a quote:
    The Conference of Defence Associations welcomes the government's decision to extend the military mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
    They go on to say:
    ISIL represents a direct threat to Canadian national security since it has singled out Canada as an enemy and urged its members and supporters to kill Westerners, military and civilian alike. The group also serves as an inspiration for lone-wolf terrorist attacks, such as those committed....
     here in Ottawa and of course in Quebec.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by pointing out what I think is obvious for many here. The position that the Prime Minister has taken for the last couple of days in the House suggests a serious continuity with the position he took in 2003. He was one of the cheerleaders and apologists for George W. Bush's decision to engage in a manifestly illegal and profoundly stupid invasion of Iraq.
     There were two cheerleaders of note at that time. One was south of the border and became the leader of the Liberal Party. That was Michael Ignatieff. He was immediately recruited by the Liberal elites to become the anointed one. The other was the current Prime Minister. He did not give a hoot then about international law, and he does not now.
    All we have to do is look at is the contemptuous response he gave in the House yesterday to the Leader of the Opposition. In the end, what the Prime Minister is telling us is “What I say is the law.” That is how he is used to running—and, frankly, ruining—this parliamentary democracy.

[Translation]

    “I am King. I am the law.”

[English]

    That is the Prime Minister.
    We then heard from the Minister of Foreign Affairs today. It was a more measured speech, but at the same time, he slipped. He started saying that if we vote against this motion, we are “voting against” our own soldiers. This kind of argumentation, this kind of attempt to suggest that any concerns about wisdom—and, in this case, lawfulness—is somehow beneath debate in the House of Commons is destructive of our democracy. We talk about a goal of degrading ISIL, ISIS, the Islamic State or whatever it is called, and at the same time we are engaging in debate that helps to degrade democratic discourse in the House of Commons.
    One thing that is obvious from the last two days is that the government, or at least the ministers, did not have a clue about what the legal basis would be that they were going to be putting forward. They had not bothered to clarify in their own minds what it was. Their answers were all over the map in the House. Yesterday they were scrambling to cross their t's and dot their i's because they finally acknowledged that if they were going to be following the American model, the justification would be one of collective self-defence of Iraq, for which they need an invitation from Iraq. We will see whether that gets backdated, because there is no invitation from Iraq to go into Syria at the moment. They will also need to write a letter to the UN in the way that the U.S. did in order to go into Syria on September 23, 2014.
    What that suggests is that legality is an afterthought. Not knowing and not reading whatever legal opinion they purport to have in order to know how they are allowed to go into Syria, so as to then know what the purpose of the mission can be in law, suggests that it does not matter to them. They are going in for other reasons.
    Some of the reasons might be very good ones, in the sense that there is this visceral response to the brutality of ISIS. The imagery from the former minister is of that ilk. The government is mixing in justifications about how maybe this is actually a humanitarian intervention, although I have not heard the government give that as the legal basis. It is also on that side.
     Frankly, there is also just politics. The government wants to go in for reasons that have as much to do with electoral politics as they do with the actual need for Canada to be involved in this way, especially by extending the mission to Syria.
    We debated this question back in early October. At the time, the motion that was passed by the House included Syria. We knew that it did. It was clear, and there was a condition set by the Prime Minister that Canada would not extend its active mission, particularly the bombing part of it, without the consent of the government of Syria, namely Assad.
    The U.S. had already put out its legal rationale for going into Syria a full two to three weeks before, on September 23, 2014. Surely any competent Canadian government and its advisers would know what that rationale was by the time we had the debate in the House, yet the only legal basis that the government put forward then for going into Syria was one of the consent of the Syrian government. No mention was ever made of the U.S. rationale.
    Was that because the government had legal advice from somewhere within the government that the U.S. rationale was dubious, or even not valid? If so, how the government went about getting a legal opinion that it liked a lot better is a question that has to be asked.
    Maybe there is a hint. Newspaper reports suggests that it was the Judge Advocate General, based in the Department of National Defence, who gave that legal opinion.

  (1330)  

    It is one, of course, we are never going to see, because the current government will raise the bogus argument of solicitor-client privilege as the reason we cannot see the legal opinion. However, the Judge Advocate General has no business giving legal opinions on ius ad bellum, the use of military force as set out in general public international law. That is the role of the legal adviser to the Department of Foreign Affairs, who in every other government and every other Westminster system would be the one giving the opinion.
    The question is begged: did the legal adviser give an opinion back in September and October? Was it favourable to the government? If so, why do we not know about it? If it was not favourable to the government, is that why the Department of National Defence has inserted itself and overridden the Department of Foreign Affairs in its proper role of advising the government on the lawfulness of going to war?
    These are questions we have to ask. I would remind members that we have asked them and will continue to ask them. We will want to see the legal opinions. It is not for the sake of legality itself, but in order to know what the government sees as the basis for going in and to be able to hold the government to account for the reasons given, under law. It is also in order to be critical, to scrutinize, and have others who are also experts say “case made” or “case not made”.
    The fact is that unless the government changes its ways, it is going to say, “Sorry, solicitor-client privilege”, which is so bogus. First of all, the client is the government. Second, this is the ultimate public interest. There is nothing reasonably confidential in what the government hears about whether it can go to war that cannot be shared, not just with Parliament but with Canadians as a whole.
    Therefore, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs here in the House, I do ask him to make sure that any legal opinion that has been received by the government is tabled, and tabled forthwith.
    I will briefly go over the three kinds of legal justifications that have been circulating.
    One is that when things are finally clarified, it is beginning to look like the government realizes that for the Americans, the primary justification is one of collective self-defence of Iraq. Not surprisingly, the U.S. needed Iraq to request it to defend itself against whatever threat it sees coming from Syria. This is based on a very tenuous theory that does not have firm grounding in international law, possibly not even firm grounding in emerging international law: the safe haven theory.
    The safe haven theory is that if another state is incapable or unwilling to eradicate safe havens from which non-state groups like ISIS are crossing the border into another state, that state can attack at will in order to deal with the threat. The fact is that the leading judgment in international law on this point, from the International Court of Justice in the Nicaragua case in the mid-1980s, specifically said that it is not a basis for exercising the right of collective self-defence.
    The leading definition set out by the United Nations in 1974, the Definition of Aggression, does talk about a scenario like this, a scenario of non-state groups crossing borders to attack another state. It is not as if this issue has not arisen. However, the issue is whether another state is sending, by or on behalf of that state, or is substantially involved in sending, armed groups across the border. That does trigger a right of self-defence.
    People have cited the 9/11 response. After the towers came down, after that brutal terrorist attack on New York, the response was to go into Afghanistan. People said the attack meant that we can go after any safe haven in response to a non-state terrorist attack.
    That is absolutely wrong. At the time, everybody thought and understood that al Qaeda and the Taliban government of Afghanistan were so interpenetrated that any al Qaeda attack was, in effect, one that had the substantial involvement of the Taliban government. That was the basis on which self-defence was exercised, and nobody objected at the time. However, to stretch that into this broader theory requires seeing the legal opinions. Maybe the law has marched on. Despite being a public international lawyer, maybe I have not watched enough in the last five years to know it has, but we need to see to know.
    The last thing floating out there, especially coming out of the mouth of the Minister of National Defence, is the idea of a George Bush-style GWOT, a global war on terror. It is the idea that all that is needed is a threat by a non-state group to allow a state to go around the world bombing, whether with drones or airplanes, if another state is somehow or other not doing the job that this state says needs to be done.
    The wording of the motion actually plays exactly into that idea, because the new motion—as my colleague, the critic for foreign affairs, brought up earlier today—specifically says that it is not just against ISIS but ISIS allies, which include, for example, Boko Haram in Nigeria.

  (1335)  

    It also says that the actions Canada can take “include” air strikes in Iraq and Syria. It does not create an exclusive list. There are good reasons the official opposition is asking for legal clarity and to see the legal opinions.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments of my colleague. At one point he said there was something from National Defence overriding Foreign Affairs on these things. These things are done collectively. We are given advice and we are on firm legal footing.
    It was of interest to me what he said with respect to solicitor-client privilege. Yes, the government does get legal advice. I think he described it as bogus, but I would suggest to him that the concept of solicitor-client privilege actually underpins our collective legal system in the country and it is extremely important.
    That being said, we have been very clear with respect to article 51 of the UN charter. We have indicated we are on the same legal basis. Iraq has asked for international assistance and we are going to do that.

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, first, the hon. minister is a lawyer. He knows that the solicitor-client privilege can be waived by the client. The analogy between private sector solicitor-client privilege and advice the government receives, especially on a question of going to war, is completely inapposite and he knows it.
    Second, the government has not been clear. No one on that side could articulate for two days that they were acting in accordance with article 51 of the UN charter. There was so much scrambling going on behind the scenes, it was actually embarrassing.
    The last thing is, the minister can reconstruct government relations all he wants but having an opinion from the Department of National Defence, if the newspaper reports are true, that the judge advocate general, as the minister who is now in the House has said, is the one who has given the go-ahead advice, is completely inappropriate unless there is parallel advice coming from the legal adviser of the Department of Foreign Affairs. If there is, we would like to see that opinion.
    I would just remind hon. members that they should try to avoid references to the absence or presence of other hon. members in the House as a general matter of routine.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.
    Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the member's comments and his focus on the legal basis for the proposed mission. In fact, in my earlier remarks I made the point right up front that the mission and the motion failed to meet the test of whether they are in the national interest or not. That test failed because the mission has an unclear legal basis, unclear mission objectives and an open-ended scope, which means we could be embroiled for a very long time in a mission that does not have a clear plan or exit strategy.
    I want to focus on unclear mission objectives. The member is I am sure aware that the Minister of Defence is saying the objective is to defeat and eliminate ISIL, whereas theMinister of Foreign Affairs is saying the objective is to degrade ISIL, which is a far different objective. Does the member have any comment about the effectiveness of a mission in which the two ministers have totally different views on what the point of the mission is in the first place?
    Mr. Speaker, I do not have any particular views other than to say a well set up question is asked and answered. Both ministers I am sure are capable of dealing with the conflict that exists between their rationales.
    However, it goes back to the fact that, again, the government is content with wholesale, feel-good arguments in the sense of, let us lash out and attack brutal terrorists. It feels good to all of us. Who does not want to do that? That is the bottom line kind of justification they are getting to. Then, when they are really going for the moral impulse, they talk about all of the brutality. It is correct to be talking about that, but they are not linking it to any specific legal justification either.
    All I am asking for, truly, is straightforward clarity. That will also come with seeing the legal opinions, although the government is rather afraid of the legal profession in this country. It is afraid of law professors who give opinions on Bill C-51, for example. It is disdainful of the Canadian Bar Association. I rather doubt it would want to see its legal opinion subject to the scrutiny of other experts.
    Mr. Speaker, that we are again discussing Iraq speaks to the gravity of the current situation and to the reality of the struggle that many Iraqis are facing. As the so-called terrorist group ISIL attempts to spread its flawed ideology across Iraq and the country's civilians who stand in the crosshairs. They are targets, unfairly victimized by a group whose only rule is to be ruthless.
    We know that ISIL is waging a campaign of terror in Iraq and across the region, preying on the vulnerable to advance its alleged cause and doing so with wanton disregard for any and all who dare stand in its way. This group is morally reprehensible, one that willfully kills innocent children, that murders humanitarian workers and innocent journalists just to make a point and that uses rape as a weapon of war.
    It is a group that we must continue to take steps to confront and to degrade, in order to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East and to protect global security, but also, to lessen the incredible burden that has been so unfairly placed upon Iraqi civilians. They are the ones living on the front line of this conflict, the people whose lives have been turned upside down as ISIL has captured vast stretches of territory from the Syrian border in the northwest to the outskirts of Baghdad.
    I want to focus on that, on the humanitarian aspects of this crisis and on the role that Canada is playing to help Iraq's children and its terrified mothers and fathers find the relief and safety they so desperately seek. Armed clashes have driven displacement, causing the humanitarian situation in Iraq to rapidly deteriorate. When such violence erupts, not only does it force masses of people to flee their homes and communities, it creates havoc in the entire country. Businesses have trouble operating. People lose their jobs. Food production and clean water services are disrupted. Normal supply routes are blocked. Families are separated and they suffer tremendous shock, especially when losing a parent, a child, a sibling or a friend. They are left to grieve amidst the turmoil of their own circumstances which for many has included fleeing homes, villages and the familiarity of everyday life. There has been concern that children will fall behind in their education because of the disruptions caused by the conflicts and displacements.
    Canada is actively working with partners to address children's needs. To date, we have contributed $8 million to UNICEF's no lost generation initiative in Iraq, which is providing education and protection assistance to conflict-affected children. We are also working through experienced partners such as Save the Children and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help provide child-friendly environments for displaced children and to give them the psychosocial support they need. Although conflict is a disruptive force in the lives of children, we must do everything possible to see that their education continues. Education is essential in Iraq right now. It gives children and youth a sense of normalcy, stability and structure. When schools are open, they are places for children to free their minds of the anxiety of war and instead focus on the pursuit of knowledge and improving their skills.
    For most Canadians, the situation in Iraq is simply unimaginable. Canadians will say that the actions we have undertaken in response to this crisis are a direct reflection of their own values and of their understanding that a country like ours cannot possibly stand idle while millions of Iraqi civilians are suffering.

  (1345)  

    Since the beginning of the crisis, Canada has committed $67.4 million in humanitarian assistance for conflict-affected Iraqis. In addition, we have provided $9.5 million to respond to the needs of approximately 215,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq. This makes us the fifth-largest donor in response to this crisis. These funds have been provided to United Nations agencies, the International Red Cross movement and non-government organizations to provide life-saving assistance to those who are most in need. In the last six months, we have helped feed 1.7 million people, provide shelter and relief supplies to 1.25 million people and helped with education for half a million children.
    Canada's assistance is also supporting organizations that are responding to incidents of sexual and gender-based violence by establishing safe places, providing psychosocial support, specialized health services, case management, community outreach and other services to up to 35,000 women and children. In addition, Canadian contributions include $10 million to strengthen accountability for sexual and gender-based violence crimes and support victims and additional programming to protect the rights of religious minorities in Iraq and in the region.
    Religious persecution of those seeking to practise their faith in a peaceful and secure way is unacceptable to Canada, and we are supporting efforts to assist in the protection of these rights. Through all these actions on the humanitarian front, Canada is showing it stands by the people of Iraq. We will continue to look for more ways to respond to the needs of all Iraqis.
    In June, Canada established a bilateral development program to address short-term needs and to support resilience and prosperity in Iraq over the long term. This bilateral program will enable communities to cope with increased demand for basic services including water, sanitation and health services; mitigate the negative economic implications; and sustain institutional capacities through this protracted crisis. Canada recognizes that without resilience and hope for a more prosperous future, Iraqi communities will continue to struggle with instability. However, the world must unite to confront and downgrade the ISIL threat. Canada is contributing to the allied effort in order to do just that and to bring some normalcy and stability back to the lives of Iraqi people.
    In summary, the military measures we are taking against ISIL do not in any way preclude humanitarian actions. There is no either/or. Canada is the fifth-largest country donor in the humanitarian response to the crisis in Iraq and the sixth-largest donor in Syria. Security on the ground is absolutely essential to providing humanitarian assistance. Degrading the capabilities of ISIL is key to achieving this, while accessing those most in need.
     It is concerning to me that the Liberals and the New Democrats failed to acknowledge the real threat posed to Canada by ISIL and the jihadi terrorism. Both leaders had an opportunity to speak to the threat ISIL poses to Canadians, and they opted for partisan attacks over serious dialogue. As I mentioned earlier, it is often innocent civilians in Iraq who are the victims of ISIL, and the focus of my remarks has dealt with Canada's humanitarian response to the crisis. However, ISIL has made clear that it targets, by name, Canada and Canadians.
    We cannot protect Canada by simply choosing to ignore this threat. We will not sit on the sidelines, as the Liberals and the New Democrats would have us do. I will be voting in favour of this motion, and I encourage all members of this House to do the same.

  (1350)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her speech. However, since she spoke after my colleague from Toronto—Danforth, who eloquently expressed his views on the lawfulness of Canada's action in extending its mission into Syria, I was expecting her to address my colleague's concerns in her remarks.
    Could she then at least answer the question about the lawfulness of this intervention, which will now extend into Syria, with respect to international law? Can she answer these questions, which are not only on my mind but also on the minds of most of my colleagues in the House and of most Canadians?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I believe the Minister of Foreign Affairs responded directly to that question. We are working with allies from around the world, some five dozen countries that have put their efforts toward degrading the ISIS threat to the world.
    I spoke to the humanitarian initiatives that Canada is taking. We cannot continue to put humanitarian assistance into a place where the lives of the very people who are trying to deliver it are threatened. This brutal group of people, ISIL, have taken the most barbaric threats to the people of Iraq and Syria. We have seen them use rape as a weapon of war. We see them beheading people before our very eyes.
    We have a responsibility to help. Canada will do everything it can.

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech with great interest and appreciated her focus on humanitarian matters.
    She could not help herself from adding to the long laundry list of graphic visuals about brutality and barbarity, of which the opposition members are very well aware, and agree that ISIL poses a threat to security internationally and in Canada. We also agree that we need to be part of the coalition addressing this ISIL threat.
    The Parliamentary Budget Officer has released a report today. As we are debating sending our air force to bomb Syria, the government is being warned that the Conservatives have not booked enough money to fund our military over the coming years.
    Does the member support asking the men and women in uniform to do increasingly dangerous work with fewer resources? I do not think Canadians want to see that.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for making reference to the PBO's document. What he indicated in that document was that the greatest cuts to our military came under the 13 years of the Liberal administration.
    We have done an enormous amount to catch up. It was the Liberals who sent our military into Afghanistan wearing jungle uniforms, not wearing desert uniforms, making our military a direct target for the opposition in Afghanistan.
    We have built our military through skills development and through equipment. We have committed enormous amounts of money to our military. We stand behind the great men and women of our service and we thank them for the tremendous job they are doing every day.
    Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy my colleague from Newmarket—Aurora speaking in the House. She brings her passion and experience, and particularly her work on international development.
    One of the most important parts of the Prime Minister's speech in the House earlier this week was showing Canadians that this was not a choice between either Canada working alongside our allies and stopping terror or choosing to do humanitarian assistance and aid.
    Canada, from the very beginning of this crisis, has been involved in both. In fact, we have been a leader in providing aid, humanitarian assistance, working with expanding refugee populations. Canada has a proud tradition of being willing to fight alongside our allies on principle, but also, importantly, administering aid and humanitarian assistance alongside that.
    Could my colleague elaborate on our leadership in that regard?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada has been the leader. As I said earlier, though, getting humanitarian aid into the most vulnerable places and to the most vulnerable people needs the security that we can offer through our military.
    A few examples of some of the things we have generously donated to assist are: 1.5 million people receiving food assistance; 1.26 million people receiving shelter and essential household items, such as hygiene kits, cooking materials, jerry cans and blankets; and 500,000 internationally displaced people and host community children accessing education opportunities.
    Canada will continue to work with our allies. We will continue to assess the situation daily.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Canadian Blood Services

    Mr. Speaker, I was proud to partner with Canadian Blood Services to host a blood donor clinic at the Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga.
    During a special ceremony, we heard a moving presentation from Vinesha Ramasamy, a courageous young woman who is a cancer survivor and blood recipient. There were tears in so many eyes when Vinesha looked toward those as they were donating blood and personally offered her thanks to them for giving the gift of life. She thanked Debbie, who bravely made her first donation; Ernie, who was giving his 75th donation; and Robert for his 100th blood donation. I also rolled up my sleeve. One must lead by example.
    I am proud to say that a total of 33 units of blood were collected on that day, which is estimated to save the lives of 99 patients. I encourage all members of the House and all Canadians who are able to donate blood to give the gift of life.

  (1400)  

Epilepsy

    Mr. Speaker, I rise because it is Purple Day, a day that has been recognized all over the world when we come together to support people living with epilepsy.
    More than 300,000 Canadians are living with epilepsy and over 15,000 people learn each year that they have it. It is believed that the number of Canadians living with this disorder is even higher, but due to prejudice and stigma, many people are reluctant to seek treatment.
    We must remember to lend our support to people living with epilepsy everyday, in the workplace, in social settings and at home. Let these purple ribbons and our purple clothes be a launching point for discussions, questions, compassion and acceptance.
    I would also like to recognize the work of Epilepsy Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of what epilepsy is and raising funds to support people living with this condition and research into treatment.
    I ask the House to join me in encouraging Canadians to learn more about epilepsy to build greater understanding of the challenges faced by people living with it.

World Theatre Day

    Mr. Speaker, today is World Theatre Day and worldwide people are celebrating live theatre in their communities.
     Live theatre creates energy and spirit. It is a catalyst for ideas, understanding, creativity and economic development. It helps us look at ourselves and better understand who we are as it explores the meaning and value in our lives.
    As the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres messenger Mieko Ouchi says in part:
    Drama shows us again and again that we are made up of many selves and wear many different identities....any place that even a single performer and a single audience member can gather, theatre can offer a potent and powerful moment of communion and connection for the performers and viewers watching the same human experience acted out before them. That is what theatre does best.
    I wish to congratulate all those who work in theatre, including those at the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque and at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott, in my riding of Leeds—Grenville, as they celebrate World Theatre Day.

Congregation Beth Shalom

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my solidarity with a venerable Ottawa—Vanier institution, Congregation Beth Shalom, which has been located in the core of Ottawa, at Chapel and Rideau Streets, for almost 60 years now. It still remains very active, dynamic and open to all ages.
    On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, I congratulated the congregation for embracing a vision shared by many of us that Canada is an open, pluralistic and democratic society. Now a decision has been made with a great deal of thought that the shul will relocate to the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in the western part of the city.
    The Torah is the most sacred text read on a weekly basis. Because the Torah are so sacred, they need to be handled and transported with the utmost of respect. Therefore, the congregation is organizing a relay walk from Chapel Street to Broadview Avenue on Sunday, March 29.
    Although I regret its departure, I will have the privilege of walking with the congregation in a spirit of appreciation and respect.

Hunters and Anglers

    Mr. Speaker, as chair of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus, I have had the honour of meeting with hunting and angling groups from across Canada. Hunters and anglers were Canada's first environmentalists, and that conservation legacy lives on to this day.
     I have visited many hunter-supported conservation projects in all regions of Canada, and I am amazed at the dedication and effectiveness of hunting and angling groups in creating conservation projects that deliver real conservation results.
    This view was confirmed by a recent Cornell University study that looked at the contributions of hunters to conservation. The study noted:
—hunters were more likely than non-recreationists to enhance land for wildlife, donate to conservation organizations and advocate for wildlife--all actions that significantly impact conservation success.
    The study went on to label hunters as “conservation superstars” and concluded that “The more time we spend in nature, the more likely we are to protect it”.
    Hunter and angler conservation projects benefit all society through the conservation of biodiversity, improving water quality and enhancing the health of ecosystems.

  (1405)  

Trout Lake Youth Council

    Mr. Speaker, recently I had the privilege of meeting with the Trout Lake Youth Council. Led by coordinator Bernie Dionne , the council comprises some 80 students in grades 8 through 12 from Gladstone, Windermere, and Vancouver Technical secondary schools in Vancouver.
    These outstanding young people meet every week in Vancouver Kingsway and are dedicated to helping our community. They adopted John Hendry Park and committed to leading a community cleanup once a month. They organized an electronics recycling pickup and doubled what all other city sites combined have done. They volunteered at the community centre's Family Day event, which drew 2,500 parents and children to a full day of activities. They invite speakers on a variety of topics to expand their knowledge and to connect with community leaders.
    At a time when Canada needs leadership and citizen engagement, this outstanding group of young people is setting an example for us all. On behalf of the Parliament of Canada, I want to thank the fantastic members of the Trout Lake Youth Council.

Battle of Vimy Ridge

    Mr. Speaker, it is with great honour that on April 11, I will be marching down the main street of St. Paul with the Mallaig Army Cadets in commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
    As members know, the Battle of Vimy Ridge was significant not only for its military contribution to World War I. This battle marked the first time that all four Canadian divisions, comprising troops from across the country, fought as a cohesive unit. It is this image of national unity and triumph that gives the battle importance to Canadians. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was essentially the event that came to symbolize Canada's coming of age as a nation. For this we honour the men who fought and are eternally grateful to those who lost their lives that April of 1917 in France.
    The people of St. Paul dedicate April 11 to remembering the great sacrifice made by those soldiers who fought to end the Great War and bring peace to the world. The Lakeland region has always been proud of Canada's exceptional military past. Our brave soldiers, past, present, and future, are a symbol of the great achievement and sacrifice that defines this great nation.

FIRST Robotics Canada Competition

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and congratulate the partnership between FIRST Robotics Canada, Durham College, and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology on their successful semi-final robotics competition, which attracted over 47 teams of students from Canada and the United States as well as over 3,000 spectators.
    FIRST Canada's partnership with Durham College and UOIT allowed both visiting and local competitors to be inspired and engaged with robotics and technology institutions. The students said that these events helped improve their teamwork skills, self-confidence, and problem-solving abilities.
    I would like to especially recognize and thank all the teacher mentors for volunteering their time with each of the elementary and high school student teams. Lastly, I would like to thank Durham College and UOIT for hosting this fantastic event.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-51's provisions are broad and vague, with huge gaps in oversight and accountability. These broad new powers could target, for instance, peaceful anti-pipeline protesters on Burnaby Mountain, citizens in Burnaby and in New Westminster who protest the government agenda, environmentalists and first nations opposing pipeline expansion to the B.C. coast, or aboriginal communities engaged in peaceful civil disobedience to protect their traditional territories.
    The government has refused to listen so far to the Canadian Bar Association, the BC Civil Liberties Association, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, over 100 of Canada's top legal professors, and countless others who have unequivocally exposed Bill C-51's dangerous flaws. New Democrats will relentlessly stand up to this dangerous bill.
     Canadians deserve better, and on October 19, they will get better with the new NDP government that respects democratic rights and freedoms in Canada.

Sealing Industry

    Mr. Speaker, our government has always been clear about its support for our Canadian sealers and the sealing industry. Unfortunately, earlier this week, we learned about a woman from Newfoundland and Labrador who recently had her seal skin purse confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection because seals are on the endangered species list in the United States. She is now forced to pay a $250 fine for trying to take her purse across the border.
    The seal hunt is the most humane hunt in the world. Sealing is a proud and historic tradition, one that is part of rural, northern, and Inuit life. It is always a way of life. Our government remains steadfast that the seal harvest is a humane, sustainable, and well-regulated activity. We stand behind the thousands of Canadians in coastal northern communities who depend on the seal harvest to provide a livelihood for their families and recognize the important role sealing plays in the management of aquatic ecosystems.

  (1410)  

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, we cannot sacrifice the fundamental freedoms that are central to Canadian society in the name of bolstering public safety. We can and must protect both. The government must listen to the experts who testified before the committee on public safety who warned against Bill C-51 and the overarching attack on fundamental freedoms. The experts agree with the NDP that the bill gives broad and new powers to CSIS, without enhancing oversight, including provisions that could impact legitimate dissent, and does not produce a plan to counter radicalization in Canadian communities.
    My main concern is the vague definition of what constitutes a terrorist in the bill. Being born as a Tamil in Sri Lanka, I have experienced what a broad definition of terrorism can mean for an entire people. I have seen and heard from innocent people who have lost everything because of vague definitions of “terrorist”.
     As a Canadian parliamentarian, I demand oversight and a clear definition of what is a terrorist and what is legitimate protest. I will stand with the NDP to defend our charter of rights for our fundamental freedoms and for what makes us a strong nation.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the high-tax, high-debt Liberals and NDP will raise taxes on Canadian families to pay for their gigantic spending promises. However, Canadians do not want their money funnelled to bureaucratic black holes. Hard-working Canadian families do not need higher tax bills. What they need is tax relief and direct support they can use as they see fit.
    That is exactly what we are delivering. Under our family tax cuts and benefits package, we will put money back in the pockets of parents, something the Liberals and NDP have objected to and have voted against every chance they have had. Under our plan, 100% of families will benefit, with the vast majority of these benefits flowing to low-and middle-income families.
    The choice is clear, voting Conservative gets Canadians more money in their pockets to spend on their priorities. Voting for the opposition just gets them higher taxes and more debt.

Purple Day for Epilepsy

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in this place to help promote awareness of epilepsy by recognizing Purple Day. Thousands of people across Canada will wear purple today as they celebrate our nation's leadership in epilepsy awareness. I thank my colleagues, many of whom are only too familiar with epilepsy, for their generous support and for wearing purple with pride today.
     Purple Day was founded by Cassidy Megan, of my riding, to raise international awareness about epilepsy, a condition affecting 300,000 Canadians and 50 million people worldwide. We all owe a debt of thanks to Cassidy for her courage and her commitment to improving the quality of life for people with epilepsy.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, this Conservative government has a strong record of keeping communities safe from dangerous and addictive drugs. This week we passed the respect for communities act, which will guarantee residents, law enforcement, and community leaders a say when drug injection houses want to open. Unfortunately, the Liberals voted against communities having this important say, and the Liberal leader has called for more injection houses to open across the country.
    Drug injection houses allow the use of dangerous and addictive drugs that tear families apart, promote criminal behaviour, and destroy lives. The Liberal leader's pledge to blindly open drug injection houses in communities across Canada is both disturbing and wrong.
    Our Conservative government will continue to support treatment and recovery programs that work to get addicts off drugs while ensuring that our streets and communities are safe for Canadians and their families.

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, every day that the Conservatives fail to produce a budget is another day that they are failing Canadians, especially seniors living in poverty. Introducing a budget is the most basic responsibility of a government, but the Conservatives cannot even manage to do that. Provincial governments are being forced to introduce budgets without any certainty. It is unacceptable and is yet another failure in a decade of Conservative mismanagement.
    Canadians are working harder but are falling further behind. Enough is enough. It is time to replace the current Prime Minister, repair the damage he has done, and lift seniors out of poverty. The NDP has a plan to do exactly that. We will return the eligibility age for OAS to 65, increase the GIS to eliminate poverty among seniors, and increase the CPP so that every person can retire in dignity. That is what seniors deserve, and that is what an NDP government will deliver.

  (1415)  

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, we know that the high-tax, high-debt Liberals and NDP believe that bigger government and more taxes is what is best for Canadian families. However, on this side of the House, we believe in keeping more money in the pockets of moms and dads. Our low-tax plan is working, and we are making sure that 100% of families with children benefit with almost $2,000 back in their own pockets.
    Now the vast majority of these benefits will go to low- and middle-income Canadians so that they can spend their hard-earned money how they want to. If given a chance, the high-tax Liberals and the high-debt NDP would take those benefits away for pet projects and a larger and growing bureaucracy.
    The contrast is simple. Liberals believe that bureaucracy knows best when it comes to Canadian families, while on this side of the House, we believe in giving money back to the real child care experts, and their names are Mom and Dad.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister chose to ignore our concerns about the war in Iraq and in Syria, at the expense of the humanitarian assistance those countries need.
    At a time when refugee claims in Iraq and Syria have reached a record high in 22 years, can the government explain its inaction?
    Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary, the government has been taking action since the beginning of these conflicts in Iraq and Syria. That is why, since 2009, we have resettled more Iraqi refugees than any other country, on a per capita basis. That is why we have also decided to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees who will be welcomed in Canada over the next three years. This government is taking military action to fight the threat posed by the Islamic State as well as measures to address humanitarian and refugee resettlement needs.
    Mr. Speaker, the government has just achieved its 2013 objectives. It took two years longer to welcome 1,300 refugees from Syria, without taking into account its promise to welcome 10,000 more refugees in the next three years.
    What is the minister's plan to ensure that the government will honour its promises in a timely manner?
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP is oblivious to the facts in this matter, just as in many others. From the outset, we achieved our 2013-14 objective, and in January we announced the much more ambitious objective of welcoming 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years. That is the most ambitious objective of all the peer countries around the world that are part of the refugee resettlement network. Canada is proud to welcome one in ten refugees resettled each year worldwide.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives congratulate themselves for being two years late when it comes to fulfilling a promise to bring Syrian refugees to Canada and measures that would save the lives of ISIL's victims are now left on the backburner. Yet the Prime Minister cannot move fast enough when it comes to launching Canada into a war with no exit strategy and no end in sight.
    Could that minister explain why the motion of the Conservatives does not include any new money for refugees?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member is completely wrong. Two years ago, we announced our first objective for Syria. We have met and surpassed that objective, and we have announced that 10,000 refugees will be resettled in Canada this year, next year and, if necessary, in 2017. That is the largest commitment to refugee resettlement from Syria by any country yet made publicly. It is in addition to 21,000 Iraqis resettled here. That is on top of asylum seekers who come here in the thousands.
    We are taking action against the Islamic State, which is the force creating refugees in Iraq and in Syria. We have to act militarily, in humanitarian terms and also to resettle refugees.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, according to media reports, yesterday's briefing from the Department of National Defence was clear about how long it saw the mission in Iraq and Syria lasting: years.
    The Minister of National Defence has admitted as much, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs has compared the mission to Afghanistan.
    Could the government confirm that this one-year extension of the mission is actually only the first step in a much longer engagement? How long do the Conservatives expect the Canadian Armed Forces to be in Iraq and Syria?
    Mr. Speaker, the terms of the motion for the government's extension are clear for the next 12 months, based on the RCAF commitment of six fighter jets, two surveillance aircraft, a refueller and sixty-nine special operations forces in a training mission near Erbil. That is the mission we are seeking support for from this place.
    To get back to the last question, we just had a visit here from Iraqi refugees, among the 21,000 accepted in Canada. They told us to please ask the opposition parties to support this military program because they wanted their people to be able to go back to their homes in Iraq. They want protection for those minorities. That is what they want.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of National Defence said that the legal case for dropping bombs in Syria was based on criminality, or Canada's independent right of self-defence, or it was because of the genocide dimension, or perhaps it was article 51 of the UN charter. The Prime Minister said that international law was not really applicable.
    Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us what the legal rationale is today, or does he too believe the question is only a joke?
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that members of the NDP are concerned about the legal justification and once they hear it, I take it they do not support the mission. Is that a fair comment? Those are all the questions we are getting.
    We have indicated that the government of Iraq has the collective right to self-defence under article 51 of the United Nations. It has officially requested international help, so we will comply with that. We will work on the same basis as our American allies are doing and report that to the United Nations.

[Translation]

CBC/Radio-Canada

    Mr. Speaker, we have learned that many more jobs at the CBC are being cut and that this round will affect local stations. Will the minister finally admit that this recurrent downsizing is due to the Conservatives' cuts? Since 2006, they have slashed $227 million, in 2014 dollars, which is about one-fifth of the CBC's budget.
    Will the minister at least try to convince her government to restore that money in the next budget? We hope so.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, the CBC is responsible for its own operations. It is up to the CBC to provide programming that Canadians actually want to watch and listen to in both of our official languages.
     Our government provides, on a yearly basis, the CBC with very significant funds. Let us be clear that these changes, and the member is probably aware of this, are part of the CBC's restructuring and strategic plan, which it began implementation of in 2014.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, Alberta is the epicentre of the energy downturn and yet Premier Prentice was able to table a budget today on time in this fiscal year. Premier Wall did the same last week in Saskatchewan.
     The economists who advise the government say that there is no credible reason for procrastination. Will the Minister of Finance stop playing peekaboo with Canadians and table a budget investing in the real drivers of economic growth: infrastructure, access to higher learning, innovation, effective trade and environmental credibility. Will he do that in this fiscal year?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, we know very well that we are in a fragile global economy and of course our country has been impacted by the dramatic fall in oil prices. That is even more reason to stick to our government's plan that has generated almost 1.2 million net new jobs since the end of the recession. It is because of our actions that the overall federal tax burden is at its lowest level in 50 years.
    However, the solution is not a tax hike on the middle class like the Liberal leader is proposing and the solution is certainly not a $20 billion carbon tax that would hurt Canada's economy and kill the jobs of Canadians. Our government has a low-tax plan for jobs and growth for all sectors of the Canadian economy, which is working.
    Mr. Speaker, decent economic growth is not Canada's reality and despite the government's boasting, it is not doing better than the rest of the world.
     Last fall, before the oil downturn, the IMF projected 139 countries would grow faster this year than Canada. In the OECD, there were 16, including Greece. More recently, the OECD has downgraded Canadian growth, while upgrading many others: the U.S., Europe, Japan, Germany, France, India.
     Why is the government content to have the worst economic growth record in eight decades?
    Mr. Speaker, since forming government, we have had the strongest economic growth record of any country in the G7. We have created almost 1.2 million net new jobs and we have launched the largest federal infrastructure plan in Canada's history.
     The G20 summit's action plan singled out Canada for our strong growth. The IMF and OECD both project that Canada will have among the strongest growth in the G7 in the years ahead.
     We will not take lessons from the Liberals who think that budgets balance themselves.

[Translation]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians have heard from many groups and experts across the country, and they are getting more and more worried about the scope of Bill C-51. The Conservatives are wrong to reject serious criticism of their bill.
    That is why the NDP will move a motion to broaden the debate. We want to talk about a counter-radicalization strategy and better oversight mechanisms for intelligence agencies.
    Will this government support our motion?
    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to fighting terrorism, the New Democrats are behind the times. Over two years ago, we implemented our counterterrorism strategy, which the New Democrats did not support.
    I would like to thank the committee members, who are doing important work and have listened to dozens of witnesses in recent weeks. They will hear from more this evening.
    We have observed tremendous support for a bill that will protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians and will also protect them from the terrorist threat.
    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if we are talking about the same meetings of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, but as for witnesses supporting Bill C-51, give me a break.
    Yesterday in committee, we heard others criticizing Bill C-51 for being too broad in scope and lacking oversight provisions for intelligence agencies. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association was clear: a significant part of Bill C-51 is unconstitutional and would infringe upon our basic rights.
    Does the minister realize that this ill-conceived bill will violate Canadians' rights and freedoms?
    Mr. Speaker, I hope our NDP friends will listen to the Supreme Court, which finds that our Canadian model, in other words, the review committee, strikes the perfect balance between procedural rights and privacy.
    Bill C-51 targets Islamist jihadists to prevent them from achieving their stated objective of carrying out terrorist threats against the west, including Canada.
    In this context the measures proposed in Bill C-51 to deal with the nature of threats Canada faces are quite rightly and urgently needed to protect and keep secure the freedom of her citizens.
    That was professor Salim Mansur from Western University, in Ontario—

  (1430)  

    Order.
    The hon. member for Alfred-Pellan.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about the witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to oppose Bill C-51.
    The Canadian Bar Association criticized the new, almost unlimited powers to disrupt that would be given to CSIS.
    The association said:
    It is untenable that the infringement of Charter rights is open to debate, in secret proceedings where only the government is represented.
    Why is the Conservative government so determined to pass its flawed bill that waters down our fundamental values?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as the Minister for Public Safety has said numerous times and others who are learned on the bill, they see the legislation for what it is. It is there to protect Canadians. It is there to do so in a balanced way.
    With respect to the powers that are vested in judges, the Canadian Bar Association has somehow indicated that this is putting judges in a compromised position. This is what judges do each and every day in a pre-emptive way when they examine warrant applications. This is exactly what judges should be doing in a pre-emptive way.
     This is an undertaking judges at the federal court will do that we believe is necessary to enhance the protection of Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the ministers over there still do not get it. Bill C-51 is chockablock full of measures that threaten Canadians' rights and freedoms, but missing key elements that would actually help keep Canadians safer.
    The committee heard today from community leaders, like Zarqa Nawaz, who are working on the ground to prevent radicalization. They desperately need more resources, not divisive rhetoric from the government.
     Why is de-radicalization not a priority for the government when we know it works and it can actually prevent future attacks?
    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have attended a cross cultural round table. However, he should also have listened. I hope he was there when Ms. Raheel Raza, the president of the Muslims Facing Tomorrow, appeared. What did she say at committee? She said that legislation was important to combat radicalization, that we needed better tools to track jihadists who travelled overseas. That is the reality. She does not have a problem with sharing information because the larger picture is that of the security and safety of Canada. Ms. Raza gets it. When will the NDP get it?
    Mr. Speaker, one of the things the minister forgot to mention she said was that the bill lacked sufficient oversight. He is selectively quoting from his own witness.
    Despite the fact that leaders from faith communities have testified at public safety, they all agree that we urgently need a national deradicalization strategy and that Bill C-51 lacks critical oversight mechanisms that would prevent abuse.
    How can the minister refuse to act in the face of overwhelming evidence that his bill is fatally flawed, when 45 out of 48 witnesses are telling us that this bill needs to be amended or abandoned?
    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to know that we will enable the left hand of the right hand government to know what is happening.
    I am proud that we will provide the capacity to our intelligence officers to speak to the parent of a young individual who is being radicalized.
    We reject the argument that, every time we talk about security, our freedoms are threatened. Canadians understand that their freedom and security go hand in hand. They expect us to do both and to protect both.
    There are protections, of course, in that legislation. The fact is that our police are there to protect us against terrorists.

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' spy bill will criminalize environmentalists, but they are not even waiting until the bill is passed. Conservatives have already attacked members of the environmental movement, calling them radicals and foreign threats. Meanwhile, they are just regular Canadians who care about protecting our natural world.
     The Conservatives are spending $13 million on a charity audit witch hunt to silence people who disagree with them. Meanwhile they are cutting CRA auditors and giving out the wrong information to businesses.
    When will the minister stop deflecting and call on the Auditor General to look into the mess she has made of CRA?

  (1435)  

    The member knows very well that CRA audits occur at arm's length. They are conducted free of any political interference or political motivation. The CRA charities directorate acts independently. The rules regarding charities and political activities are long standing; and without question, charities must respect the law.
    The only political interference here is the political lobbying by the member opposite.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, that is not true.
    The conclusions of the study by the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre are clear. The agency is currently conducting 44 investigations into the political activities of environmental groups and anti-poverty organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty and Équiterre.
    Will the government stop this witch hunt and ask the Auditor General to look into the CRA's activities?

[English]

    Let us take a look at what CRA actually does. CRA audits 1% of the charitable sector every year. This means, on average, that only 0.4% of all charities end up having their status revoked, for cause, in a given year.
    Let us look at the other facts here. There is $14.24 billion in tax receipts for charities, and 86,000 charities across the country. Does that member believe that we should not look at any of these charities, or is she just defending the charities of her choice?

[Translation]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the time for excuses is over.
    The Government of Quebec is tabling its budget today, and so is the Government of Alberta. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are continuing to ask Canadians to wait to find out where public funds will be invested.
    We need measures now to help seniors who are living in poverty. We need measures now to help families that cannot afford child care.
    My question is this: when will the government deliver a budget that makes families and the middle class a priority?
    As members know, our government's priority continues to be job creation, long-term prosperity and working in partnership with the provinces.
    We will have an excellent budget. The Minister of Finance works on it every day.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the news out of Alberta today is that somehow, despite low oil prices, the government managed to actually table a budget, and that is in a province that is much more impacted by low oil prices than here in the federal government.
     Here in Ottawa, it seems that the Minister of Finance has enrolled in the witness protection program, and the federal budget is still just a gleam in the Prime Minister's eye. Yet Canadian seniors living in poverty need answers, Canadian parents needing affordable child care need a plan, and the increasing number of Canadians who are out of a job need some hope.
    When is the Minister of Finance going to show up and do his job? When are we finally going to see a federal budget?
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP names seniors who are on hard times. The only plan by the NDP and Liberals is to raise their taxes.
    They talk about parents who are in need of child care. The NDP and Liberals only offer them higher taxes and ending the universal child care benefit that is actually helping parents.
    They mentioned Canadians who are out of work. The only plan by the NDP and Liberals is to raise taxes on those who might hire people.
    We will not be introducing a budget to raise taxes the way the NDP and Liberals would propose. Instead we will continue our long-standing record of lowering taxes for families and job creators, which has created 1.2 million jobs, and we are just getting started.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada and the TD Bank have been clear. We are facing the worst job growth in the past 40 years, and the unemployment rate is going to continue to rise.
    The Minister of Finance of Canada would rather sit back and watch as Quebec and Alberta table their budgets today instead of tabling his own. The Conservatives are hamstrung and have no plan. They do not have a budget, and they do not have any solutions.
    What is the Conservative government waiting for? When will it demonstrate leadership, work with the provinces and finally table a budget in the House?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, taxpayers understand what the leader of the Liberal party does not: the budget is not going to balance itself. Families have to balance their budgets by earning a good salary without punitive taxes.
    That is why we cut taxes for families and introduced a child care benefit of almost $2,000 for each child under the age of six and $720 for those aged 6 to 17.
    The Liberals want to take away all of those benefits. We are not going to let that happen.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's economy was weak before falling oil prices, and it has flatlined since. We need a budget now to kick-start the economy and to help Canada's struggling middle class, but the Minister of Finance is saying he cannot do it because of oil prices.
    Alberta is far more dependent on oil prices than Canada, yet it is actually delivering a budget today. If Alberta can deliver a budget, why can this Minister of Finance not? Why can he not even tell us the date of a federal budget? Why can he not answer budget questions in the House?
    Mr. Speaker, he has answered the call of Canadians by lowering their taxes and putting more money directly in their pockets. That is why our recent low-tax plan for families will allow parents to split their income to reduce the family tax burden by up to $2,000. The Liberals want to take that money away and raise taxes. We are giving, through the fall update, $2,000 per preschooler and $720 for each child 6 through 17. That is money directly in the pockets of parents, which the Liberals would take away.
    Parents understand that budgets do not balance themselves. Conservative low-tax plans do.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that budgets do not write themselves. They actually require a finance minister who shows up, does his job, writes budgets, responds to questions on budgets in this House, and creates jobs and growth for Canadian families.
    TD reports today that precarious employment is worse than it was before the recession. We now have the Bank of Canada, the PBO, CIBC, and TD telling us that Canada's job market is weak.
    When will the Conservatives deliver a budget with a plan for jobs and growth? Why can the Minister of Finance not answer budget questions in this House?
    Mr. Speaker, since the recession, our economy has created 1.2 million net new jobs, 85% of which are full time, and two-thirds of them are in high-wage industries. After tax and inflation, take-home pay is up by 10%. That is the result of a low-tax plan that encourages hiring and lets the workers who get hired keep more of what they earn.
    The Liberals' only plan is to let the budget balance itself and raise taxes on Canadian families. That is why the Canadian people have entrusted us with the responsibility of the economy and that is why we are delivering.

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, Roy Romanow, the former chair of the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, told us that our health care system has reached a turning point.
    The Conservatives' inaction is leading us straight towards privatization of the system and an increase in costs. That is in addition to their cuts in transfers to the provinces. Our health care system needs leadership.
    When will the Conservatives sit down with the provinces to ensure that our universal health care system is sustainable?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I speak to the provinces on an ongoing basis. I have sat down with them twice now in the last two years to talk about the health care system, and we have a lot of common interest in actually working on the issue of innovation in the health care system.
    We already provide from the federal government $40 billion annually in terms of stable and predictable funding. That is health transfer increases of almost 70%.
    A lot of health ministers, including me, are focused on health innovation and finding better ways to make that money work in a more sustainable way and a more cost-effective way.
    Mr. Speaker, the truth is that the government's failure of leadership and lack of vision is putting our cherished public health care system at great peril.
    The Conservatives have failed to address important challenges like the high cost of prescription drugs. They have unilaterally slashed funding, and they have taken no steps toward the next generation of health care, like taking action on pharmacare or home care.
    When will the Prime Minister sit down with the provinces and territories to work on strengthening our public health care system together?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, I just had a conversation with the Minister of Health from British Columbia, and we talked about the need to work together on a pharmaceutical strategy.
    The bottom line is that Canadians pay some of the highest costs for drugs in the world because we are purchasing separately and it is a divide-and-conquer situation.
    We are working with the provinces. They are already doing a lot of bulk purchasing, but we would actually like to be at the table. We have started to work with them on that and we think we can save hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, to the system.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, both the current and former minister of employment and social development have nothing but praise for the parliamentary secretary for his “important work” in producing a report on employment insurance processing.
    People in Atlantic Canada are keen to read this wonderful work, because under the government, they have been struggling with longer and longer wait times to receive their EI benefits.
    Unfortunately, the government has not made this work available to Canadians. When will the minister release the report? Will he table it in the House here today?
    As I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, my parliamentary secretary has done great work on behalf of his constituents and all Canadians.
    The reality is that the majority of EI claims are now processed within 28 days of making the claim. Two-third are now fully or partially automated. We have increased efficiency in this area by 42% over the last decade. We are also hiring more staff during the peak seasons for employment insurance.
    More important, our economy has created 1.2 million net new jobs as a result of our low-tax plan, giving people who are on employment insurance an opportunity to get off and get into a job.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the victims of the massive cuts to the employment insurance system keep piling up.
    Numerous studies and people have confirmed that the Conservatives' reform is very harmful to seasonal workers. The current employment insurance system is not adapted to the reality facing business owners and workers in the agricultural, tourism and forestry sectors in Quebec and New Brunswick.
    Instead of simply making things harder for employers and seasonal workers, will the minister finally take action to promote economic activity in the regions affected?
    Mr. Speaker, the New Democrats keep spreading fear about our reforms. All of their statements and warnings are obviously false. None of that has actually happened. We are trying to create jobs. That is why we have 1.2 million new jobs, 85% of which are full time and two-thirds of which are in well-paid industries. We will continue to lower taxes and increase job opportunities for all Canadians.

[English]

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the House debated and voted at second reading on Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. While our Conservative government is taking a strong stance against harmful barbaric practices, the opposition members fail to stand up and take action.
    Could the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration please explain to this House how important this piece of legislation is to protect women and girls in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul for her excellent work on these issues and on human trafficking. She is a leader.
    With Bill S-7, this government is taking action to ensure that no woman or girl in Canada is a victim of early or forced marriage, polygamy or so-called honour-based violence. We are showing zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices because violence against women and girls is always wrong. It is never okay, even when some falsely defend it in the name of tradition or culture.
    Sadly, that is exactly what the opposition members have been doing. The New Democrats spoke strongly against this bill in this House. The Liberals refused to call this violence “barbaric”. They have avoided a recorded—

  (1450)  

    Order, please. The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, how about some action on murdered and missing aboriginal women?
    Mr. Fahmy's passport went missing after it was seized by Egyptian authorities and now his life is in limbo without proper identification. Recently, I brought this to the attention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and yesterday Egyptian authorities paved the way for the Canadian embassy in Cairo to issue a new passport to Mr. Fahmy. This would allow him to move on with his life.
    The question is this. What steps has the Canadian government taken to issue Mr. Fahmy a new passport?
    Mr. Speaker, when Mr. Fahmy is able to travel, we have a travel document ready.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, since he lost access to a passport, Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy has been in a very difficult situation, but fortunately the Egyptian courts apparently authorized the Canadian ambassador to issue him a new passport.
    Can the minister confirm this information and tell us whether the government will respond positively and quickly to this application for a temporary passport, which would enable Mr. Fahmy to live a normal life before returning to Canada?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canada does continue to call for an immediate and full release of Mr. Fahmy. We also have a travel document ready when Mr. Fahmy is able to travel.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, as the Conference Board has just demonstrated, the Conservative trade strategy for Asia has underperformed, with Canada losing ground to our competitors in investment, services and value-added exports.
     Now we are missing another opportunity. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is being launched and will be a major international institution providing access to billions in Asian infrastructure projects.
    The deadline to become a founding member is March 31. The U.K., Germany, France and Australia have all joined. Will Canada join too, or will Conservatives miss another key opportunity to engage with Asia?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada continues to assess whether it will become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and will make a decision that is in Canada's national interest. We have also been informed that Canada's participation will be welcome at any time.

[Translation]

CBC/Radio-Canada

    Mr. Speaker, we have just heard that the CBC will have to cut another 100 jobs to balance its books. One hundred positions. Eight positions are being cut in Toronto, seven in Sudbury and 11 in Acadia.

[English]

    For the CBC, it means 144 positions lost because of the Conservative cuts.

[Translation]

    Will the minister stop slashing the CBC and finally reinvest in our public broadcaster?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to repeat the answer I gave to this question earlier in question period.
     The CBC is responsible for its own operations. It is up to the CBC to provide programming that Canadians actually want to watch and listen to in both English and French. Our government provides the CBC with significant funds on a yearly basis. Let us be clear. As I stated earlier, the fact is that the CBC has put forward its restructuring and strategic plan for the future endeavours that it will partake in. That plan was tabled in 2014. It is now being implemented.

Manufacturing Industry

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday when asked about the government's weak commitment to southern Ontario's manufacturing, the minister flippantly answered with spin. Ontario families who have lost their manufacturing jobs are sick and tired of his spin. They are looking for jobs.
     It has been more than two years since Parliament authorized over $200 million to help rebuild Ontario's struggling manufacturing sector. Can the minister list even five projects that have been funded by the advanced manufacturing sector specifically or is he just going to give us more spin?
    Mr. Speaker, it was not spin, it was a direct answer to the question. What I described was exactly what the member has asked for, a specific project. It was a robotics project at SickKids hospital that helps kids, which will now be sold around the world.
     If the member wants another example, on Monday I was in Burlington, Ontario, at L-3 WESCAM for an investment that will save over 800 jobs in Burlington and expand them into Don Mills. It is creating world-class technology for earth observation on land, at sea and in the air. This is creating jobs all throughout southwest Ontario. Our government invested in it. The Liberal Party voted against it. We will keep ignoring them and keep supporting southwest Ontario.

  (1455)  

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, it is not just the private sector that is being fed false hope by the government, the public sector is also being dished out some pretty empty rhetoric as well. Let us be clear. It is boasting about a plan that will not fund cities for 10 years, does not build housing today, will not fix a bridge tomorrow and certainly will not solve gridlock anytime soon.
    The current government's so-called action plan is actually an inaction plan. This week it is the mayor of Calgary who is pleading with Ottawa to cut out the fake cheques and cut a real cheque to get infrastructure built.
    When will the Minister of Finance come out from under his desk, wherever he is, and draw up a budget, fund cities, and get real Canadians working on real projects and real cities now?
    Mr. Speaker, the member knows very well from when he was in municipal politics some years ago that there was no support from the federal government, and the Liberals either. There are 26 other members of our caucus who are former municipal politicians. When we talk about municipal politics, we know very well what it is on our side.
     We met at 13 meetings across the country to prepare the new building Canada plan with the municipalities, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and all provincial organizations representing municipalities. We are delivering for them and they know it.

[Translation]

Air Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, on March 16, a plane crashed at the end of the runway at the Neuville aerodrome, 150 metres from an inhabited house. Municipal officials are now asking that the activities at the aerodrome be suspended during the investigation. People are worried. This is the second incident in four months. There is clearly a serious safety problem.
    The Minister of Transport promised to meet with the municipal council over a year ago, but she never returned their calls. Will the minister finally keep her promise and meet with Neuville officials to solve the problem at this aerodrome?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with respect to air safety in Canada, despite substantial increases in air traffic in general, Canada actually boasts the lowest rate of accidents in the modern era. Transport Canada inspectors and inspectors of the Transportation Safety Board are those who should be contacted with respect to accidents that happen at aerodromes. They do the investigation to tell us what is going on. I know that these incidents are being looked at by officials and we look forward to their reports.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have denied funding for a life-saving airstrip for a remote northern Saskatchewan first nation. Without an air strip that can accommodate an air ambulance, the community of Southend is forced to rely on ground ambulance service. It is a five-hour round trip on a gravel road. The lives of people are at risk and first nations deserve better. Will the minister stop making excuses, come to the table and fund this life-saving airstrip?
    Mr. Speaker, the member should get her facts right. The airstrip that she is referring to is under provincial jurisdiction. Our government provides a nursing station for that community. The first nation in question currently receives medical emergency evacuation by helicopters or planes.
    We will continue to work in partnership with first nations for stronger, healthier and self-sufficient communities.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians simply cannot understand why the worst of the worst violent offenders would ever be let out of prison. Thankfully, our government is listening. This is in sharp contrast to the opposition parties that promote and support policies like the Liberals' faint hope clause and oppose tougher sentencing regimes for murderers who also commit sexual assault and kidnapping.
    Can the Minister of Justice please update the House on our government's actions to protect Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Wild Rose for his well-articulated question.
    In fact, we are the only party in the House that is trusted to get tough on the worst and most violent offenders in this country. I want to commend my predecessor, as well as the Prime Minister and members on this side of the House, who have supported this initiative.
    As the Prime Minister said when this bill was introduced, there are certain crimes so repulsive that only lifelong punishment adequately reflects their awful nature. Bill C-53 would ensure that the most heinous violent offenders and the most horrific crimes will receive a life sentence in Canada, and it will mean just that: a sentence for life.

  (1500)  

International Development

    Mr. Speaker, the crisis in Syria has entered its fifth year, with extensive human suffering. The UN estimates 220,000 have died and more than four million are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Today, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are pushing asylum claims to their highest levels in 22 years.
    Next week, the UN Secretary-General will chair a donor conference on the enormous humanitarian needs in the region. Will the minister attend this important conference?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada will be well represented at the conference, and I must remind the House that Canada is sixth-largest donor country to Syria. In the last six months, especially in Syria, Canada's support has meant that 16 million people have access to safe drinking water, 4.1 million Syrians have access to food assistance, and emergency assistance is provided to nearly three million refugees in neighbouring countries.
    We should be proud of this record and we encourage the other countries that have committed to pay what they pledge.

[Translation]

Public Works and Government Services

    Mr. Speaker, Davie Canada employs over 1,100 workers at its shipyard in Lévis. Today, Davie has the largest dry dock in Canada and the highest production capacity. The shipyard has hard-working managers and employees. Davie Canada is waiting for an answer from the federal government on a major contract with the Royal Canadian Navy.
    Can the minister promise to support Quebec's shipbuilding industry and the people of Lévis by finally making a decision?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Davie shipyard, in fact, our government already has provided contracts to do important work on the Louis St. Laurent and on the Des Groseilliers icebreakers. Just recently, we announced another federal contract for the Davie shipyard in terms of extending the life of the Canadian Coast Guard ship, the Earl Grey.
    Davie is welcome to bid on any and all future government opportunities. There are, indeed, billions of dollars left in the national shipbuilding procurement strategy for which it could qualify.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, our government knows that there are many costs involved in raising a family and every little bit counts, especially when there are children. That is why our government has cut taxes of all kinds: personal taxes, business taxes, the GST.
    Can the Minister of State for Social Development please update the House on what our government is doing to help Canadian families?
    Mr. Speaker, what we are doing to help families is we are actually listening to families. Yesterday I was in Vancouver at the West Side Family Place talking to everyday families about our universal child care benefit expansion and enhancement.
    Some moms and dads from a variety of walks of life are having a hard time making ends meet. They are so happy about the expanded benefit. They are happy because it is going to be increased, because every month they count on that cheque. We are going to continue that and we are going to continue to listen to the real experts on child care, raising families, on families' priorities. That is mom and dad.

[Translation]

Consumer Protection

    Mr. Speaker, the number of credit card purchases is growing, but small businesses are still paying the highest fees in the world with rates ranging from 1.5% to 3%. This is costing many small retailers in my region and Quebec a lot of money.
    Will the Minister of Finance use the next budget to regulate these excessive fees at last, as Australia and England have done by setting rates at 0.5% and 0.3%?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government introduced the debit and credit card code of conduct. Clause 4 says that merchants that accept credit card payments are not obligated to accept debit card payments.
    The code promotes fair business practices. Shamefully, the NDP has voted against all of these initiatives to strengthen the code.

[Translation]

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, recently, at the UN's request, the government promised to accept 10,000 more Syrian refugees by 2017.
    However, Syria is still not on the list of moratoria countries. That is upsetting to asylum seekers already in Canada who are worried about being deported to a country in crisis.
    When will the government put Syria on the list of moratoria countries to protect Syrian refugees already in Canada?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and for recognizing this government's commitment to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in Canada.
    We are certainly looking at everything we are doing in Syria and Iraq from a humanitarian perspective. We examine each case closely and encourage all families and social organizations in Canada to sponsor refugees so we can achieve our objectives as soon as possible.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, I have good news for Canadians. First, it is important to know that there are just a little more than 200 days left in the life of this government. On October 19, Canadians will have the opportunity to put an end to this government. I know that the vast majority of Canadians are fed up with this government.
    I have other big news. Even though this government is intolerant when it comes to debates in the House and even though it cut the list of witnesses at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, it is important to note that Canadians are following the debates of that committee. The majority of Canadians may have approved of Bill C-51 during the initial days of the review in committee, but now the majority of Canadians disagree with this government and this bill. That only goes to show the importance of the House debates, which Canadians are obviously following with great interest.
    That being said, I wanted to ask my colleague, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, a question: what is on the government's agenda for the next week?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue debating government Motion No. 17, respecting Canada's military contribution to the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. Considering the importance of that debate, we will be continuing it, under an order of the House, until midnight tonight.
    ISIL has stated its intention to target Canada and Canadians. In fact, ISIL issued a call to action for people to attack targets in Canada. So far two attackers have responded to that call. That is why we have to take on ISIL, take on the threat it poses and keep it from establishing a geographic foothold from which to operate. We intend to continue to degrade and destroy ISIL.
     That is why we are seeking the support of Canadian parliamentarians for our decision to extend and expand Canada's military mission with our allies so we can effectively fight this jihadism which threatens our national security and global security.
    We will return to that debate on Monday afternoon and complete it that day.

[Translation]

     Tomorrow, we will continue—and, hopefully, conclude—the third reading debate on Bill C-26, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act.
    Monday, before question period, we will start the second reading debate on Bill C-52, the Safe and Accountable Rail Act. This legislation will improve railway safety and strengthen oversight while protecting taxpayers and making the rail industry more accountable to communities. This debate will continue on Tuesday.

[English]

    On Wednesday, the House will resume the second reading debate of Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act. The bill meets the government's objective to cut red tape for law-abiding firearms owners and provide safe and simpler firearms policies. Changes to the Criminal Code would enable the government to take steps to ensure the rights of lawful firearms owners would be respected. The debate will continue on Thursday, when we will adjourn for Easter.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Military Contribution Against ISIL

    The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
    Mr. Speaker, I notice a number of Conservative members consistently have raised the issue of ISIL in trying to appeal to Canadians about the type of behaviour in which ISIL conducts itself, and has been for years now.
    I know this with 100% certainty in the Liberal caucus, but it goes far beyond that, but I think it is safe to say that virtually all Canadians agree that the way ISIL has conducted itself over the last number of years is completely unacceptable. I do not think the dictionary has the words to best describe how its behaviour abhors so many of us. The graphic images of events portrayed by this terrorist organization are very telling why Canada needs to play a role in the fight against ISIL and terrorism.
    I would not want anyone who might be listening to feel, in any fashion whatsoever, that the Liberal Party of Canada does not recognize the detrimental role that ISIL plays on the world stage. We are prepared to take the necessary actions to protect Canadians as a whole.
    Terrorism is not new. In fact, if we go back to the 9/11 incident, the falling of the twin towers, we would see that the world responded relatively quickly. At that time, the then prime minister, Jean Chrétien, understood the importance of what Canadians thought and believed a government needed to do.
    Different pieces of legislation and different types of discussions took place so Prime Minister Chrétien was able to set at ease the issues of terrorism and safety at home. He underlined for the Liberal Party how important it was to recognize that Canada had a role to play.
    The Liberal Party has never opposed the deploying of our armed forces into combat when it clearly serves Canada's national interest. Military missions designed to uphold our interest have transparent objectives and a responsible plan to achieve them.
    However, let me be perfectly clear. The Liberal Party does not support the government's efforts to deepen this combat mission and to expand it into Syria.
     I have looked at some of the comments put on the record. I would like to go specifically to the other day when the leader of the Liberal Party addressed the House on this very important issue, and the expansion of the mission. Here is what he had to say:
—the government's desire to expand Canada's presence into Syria represents a worrying trend. We can call it evolution or escalation or mission creep. Whatever term is preferred, the pattern is the same.
    First we discovered that our role included ground combat operations, despite the Prime Minister's assurances to the contrary. Now we are being asked to expand our involvement into Syria. It is hard to believe the proposed timeline, given the public musings of the ministers of defence and foreign affairs. Indeed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs explicitly compared this war to Afghanistan, stating that we are in this for the longer term. In Afghanistan, the longer term meant a decade.
    However, how can we trust a government that so openly misled Canadians? This government is proposing that the Canadian Forces participate in a vague combat mission with no clear end point, and we cannot support that.

  (1510)  

    That is what the leader of the Liberal Party said just the other day in the House of Commons. It is applicable to the debate we are having today.
    ISIL is a threat, and we recognize that. It is important to make it clear how the Liberal Party supports our men and women in the Canadian Forces. I had the privilege of being a member of the regular forces during the 1980s, and what an honour it was to serve Canadians in that capacity.
    As parliamentarians, many would argue that our greatest responsibility is when we call upon the members of our forces, those brave men and women, to execute a direction from here in the House of Commons. It is an issue we should not be taking lightly. On that note, I would personally like to send my condolences, prayers, and best wishes to the family and friends of Sergeant Doiron, who was our first casualty in the Iraqi situation we are currently in.
    Canada has a clear interest in training Iraqi forces to fight and destroy ISIL. We can and should do this training away from the front lines, as our allies have been doing. Canada should participate in a well-funded and well-planned international humanitarian aid effort. The refugee crisis alone threatens the region's security, overwhelming neighbouring countries. We need to recognize the magnitude of what we are talking about. We are talking about millions.
    I would like to reinforce what the Liberal leader stated the other day regarding the United Nations. He said:
    The United Nations is telling us that, after four years of all-out war, over 11 million Syrians—over half the population—have been driven from their homes. Syrians are fleeing their country by the millions, and this exodus of refugees is causing a terrible crisis. In five years of combat, over 210,000 Syrians have been killed, including over 10,000 children.
    That is a horrendous number. Imagine every resident in western Canada being displaced, and then some. The population of western Canada is less than 11 million. Could members imagine every person in western Canada being displaced? We are talking about a mass displacement of people that is taking place, and the government's response has been found wanting.
    Let us talk about the four core principles that the Liberal Party has talked about. First, Canada has a role to play in confronting humanitarian crises in the world. Second, when a government considers deploying its men and women in uniform, there must be a clear mission and a clear role for Canada. Third, the case for deploying our forces must be made openly and transparently, based on clear, reliable, and dispassionately presented facts. Fourth, Canada's role must reflect the broad scope of Canadian capabilities and how we best can help.

  (1515)  

    This is the test we have put to the Prime Minister, the Minister of National Defence, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the current government has failed to meet that test. Canadians need to be aware of the Conservatives' inability to present their case.

  (1520)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend from Winnipeg for his intervention. He talked about his time in the Canadian Armed Forces. We have done work here on the Hill together for veterans and on military-related issues, and I always appreciate his thoughts on these matters.
    One thing I have to raise is that he outlined his leader's list of considerations, and what I find striking, because the member went back to the 1980s, when he served, was that he said we should bring a clear and transparent debate to this House of Commons on a military combat deployment. However, that very approach was not followed by the Liberals before there were 12 years of Afghanistan. In fact, the Kabul and later the Kandahar missions were not brought to this House.
     I am going to be speaking later this afternoon and using some speeches other Liberal leaders have given. We cannot find a speech from former Prime Minister Chrétien or others in the House of Commons before Afghanistan, because they did not bring it to the House for a debate and a vote.
    Our Prime Minister is taking a radically different approach. This is the second time we are having this debate into the evening. We are voting in this House on a combat-related deployment, a modest one but an important one. Why is the Liberal Party not supporting a mission that is clearly and transparently laid out, unlike the Liberals' Afghanistan mission?
    Mr. Speaker, that is just not true. It is not the case.
     Let me be very clear. The government is proposing an unfocused, unending combat mission for the Canadian Armed Forces. The Conservatives have failed to clearly articulate the mission objectives, with the Prime Minister and his Minister of National Defence offering conflicting arguments.
     Let us reflect on the debates and discussions that took place both inside and outside the House on Canada's role in Iraq. It took a great deal of courage for then Prime Minister Chrétien to recognize that it was not okay for Canada to play a role in Iraq back then. There was a case made and put forward in regard to Afghanistan.
     I believe that the Liberal Party has taken a very responsible approach to dealing with our Canadian Forces and world politics. We can be very proud of the way we have dealt with foreign affairs. This is something I personally take great pride in. However, it is very important that Canadians be aware of just how much—
    Order, please. I will have to stop the hon. member there to allow for another question.
    The hon. member for Sherbrooke.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    I wonder if my colleague can help us understand the vague objective of Canada's mission in Iraq, which the government is now trying to demonstrate. There seems to be no clearly defined objective for the end of the mission in Iraq.
    The problem is that the government has decided to undertake a combat mission without having a clearly defined objective at the outset about when the mission will end and when we will be able to withdraw our soldiers from all of these conflicts.
    Can my colleague comment on the problem of not identifying a clear end to this mission?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is the essence of what I believe many Canadians are quite concerned about. It is that there has not been a clear game plan put on the table. There has been a lack of transparency from the Prime Minister's Office, which we should all be concerned about.
    What I would like to do is bring home a few points on what the Liberal Party of Canada is actually saying. Canada has a clear interest in training Iraqi forces to fight and destroy ISIL. We can and should do this training away from the front lines, as our allies have been doing.
    Canada should participate in a well-funded and well-planned international humanitarian aid effort. The refugee crisis alone threatens the region's security and is overwhelming neighbouring countries. Here at home we should expand our refugee targets and give more victims of war the opportunity to start a new life here in Canada. There are many things we can do. We will have to wait and see how the debate continues.

  (1525)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for welcoming me back from the little break I took.
    I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss the continued crisis caused by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL, which is an ongoing crisis and a critical international issue.
    I want to add a personal dimension to this debate.
    I grew up in multicultural countries such as Tanzania and India before I arrived in Canada. In Tanzania, my best friend, whom I treated as a family member, was a Sunni Muslim. His name is Shakot Malik. In India, close friendships developed during my school years with members of the Muslim community. Here in Canada, members of the Sunni, Shia, Ismaili, and Ahmadiyya have all been strong supporters and personal friends. Let me name a few: Naseem Mahadi, Albert Elkadri, Ray Sarout, Nagah Hage, Moe Amery, Moe Suliman, Jamal Rafai, Mohammad Rasheed, and Mohamod Yasin.
    Why do I say these names? It is because they are outstanding members of the Muslim community who have strongly contributed to making Canada the best country in the world.
     There are a few others I can also name, such as Dr. Habiba Chakir, a leading scientist, and Nazreen Ali, with whom I held a symposium a few years ago here on Parliament Hill called “Women in Islam”. I will also soon have one as a family member too.
    We are proud of the contributions made by these great Canadians.
    I have also had the privilege to represent Canada abroad and have made strong friendships with Muslims from across the globe. They are all outstanding citizens of the world.
    Therefore, it is wrong to say that ISIL represents Islam. ISIL is a bunch of murderers. What its members are doing is definitely against Islam. They kill the innocent, they rape women, and they target minorities. Terrible stories have come out of Syria and Iraq where ISIL is in control. Let me say how barbaric they are. They even kill their own who disagree with them. The Economist magazine, in a recent issue, captured what members of ISIL are doing. They are spreading fear.
    The international community has not only an obligation but a responsibility to stop the murderous rampage of these barbaric individuals who take pride in killing.
    Over 60 countries have come together to stop these atrocities being committed where ISIL has a presence. Why? It is because we all believe that we not only have an obligation but a responsibility toward the innocent victims of ISIL.
    May I remind the House that it was Canada that spearheaded the discussion at the United Nations on the “responsibility to protect” following the Rwanda genocide. It proposed that when a state fails to protect its people, either through a lack of ability or a lack of willingness, the responsibility shifts to the broader international community.
    ISIL has already arrived on the shores of Canada. I have talked to Christianne Boudreau, whose son Damian Clairmont died in Syria. We have lost two soldiers here in Canada because of individuals brainwashed by ISIL propaganda.
    Our security service continues to disrupt those who choose to target Canadians. We have to stop them.
    Their headquarters are in Syria, where they hide, because they know that they will not be attacked. Well, we have said many times that Assad must go. That remains our position. Assad must go, but ISIL must not find shelter in Syria. Hence, this resolution authorizing extending the mission on ISIL in Syria, before it becomes a global threat, is essential.
     I will remind members that ISIL is already present in Libya, Nigeria, and Yemen. Recently we heard that ISIL is targeting American soldiers in the United States by naming them.
     I fail to understand the logic of the opposition parties that fail to see the threat. Recently the Liberal candidate in Calgary Forest Lawn said that we should not be in Iraq. We should not be fighting ISIL. This was from a police officer who spent his entire career helping innocent victims. Why is he blind to helping innocent victims of a terrorist organization? Even Pope Francis has said that ISIL must be stopped.
    However, ISIL members must also face justice. They must be held accountable, otherwise they will give rise to more terrorist groups, creating more havoc for peaceful societies around the globe.

  (1530)  

    As my friend Goldy Hyder said, “Why should we remain idle when there are those who are trying to destroy everything that we believe—everything that we love?”
    Canada will not stand idle. I am very proud when I go to the Remembrance Day parade held in my riding where people stand with pride for how they fought for democracy, how they fought for human rights, how they fought to ensure countries remain free. These are people who gave their lives.
    Contrary to what the NDP and the Liberals and are saying, this is the same party that without debate sent Canadian soldiers into Afghanistan because they felt it was the right thing to do. They did not even bring the debate to the House, as this government is doing so that they can talk. As far as the NDP is concerned, we know from the debates we had on Afghanistan that the NDP would oppose anything. They even opposed World War II, when the whole world was fighting evil.
    This government, contrary to what the NDP is going to say and contrary to what the Liberal members are going to say, is going to stand for the long Canadian tradition of helping the innocent around the world.
    When peace is threatened around the world, Canada will be there. Canada is going there. I am very proud to support this resolution.
    Mr. Speaker, I have to suggest that it is no wonder that Canadians do not trust what they hear from members opposite. When they get excited about certain ideological things or they want to raise people's passion, they lose their connection with the truth and with reality. When the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs talks about the NDP's support for World War II, he was not here and neither was I, but I have read the record, and the motion in relation to World War II was supported by the NDP.
    I criticize the member and the Minister of National Defence when they state publicly that the NDP does not support and never supported any military intervention, because he was here. Both of them were here when the two motions on Libya, the initial one and the first extension, were supported by the NDP. We got off board when the mission went off board and changed its mandate entirely to regime change. We saw the result of that.
    Mr. Speaker, I was here too when we debated Afghanistan and when New Democrats opposed everything about defending Afghanistan. When they say that they have supported something like Libya, sometimes when they see public opinion has changed, they will change their position, but very soon they go back to their original position and stop supporting any of the missions.
    New Democrats keep saying humanitarian aid. Yes, that is a very important component, but that is after what has happened. We have to stop the root cause of these refugees. As the Minister of National Defence said during question period, Syrians are saying they would like to go back home. They want to stay home. Let us now help them stay home. That should be the goal, and that can only be done if we fight the terrorist groups back there.

  (1535)  

    Mr. Speaker, I say to my hon. colleague opposite that public opinion is how you make decisions, but it is not necessarily how we make decisions. We make decisions in the best interests of Canadians for the long haul.
    I would say to the government members opposite that what you are proposing in the motion has been unfocused. We have seen that from the beginning. We have seen an unending combat mission for the Canadian Armed Forces with no exit strategy being proposed by your government.
    In addition to that, why did the government opposite feel it is important to extend this mission into Syria right now when all of the other countries, with the exception of the United States, have not done that and have refused to do that? Why is your government not prepared to provide more aid for refugees, more humanitarian efforts for the people of Syria, for the children and the many families that need it right now?
    Before I call on the parliamentary secretary, I have just a reminder in reference to using the “you” or “your” word. Try to direct commentary or questions through the Chair and to use the third person. That works out pretty well.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, let me remind the hon. member that our government has brought the debate into the House. When the Liberals were in power, they did not bring the debate to the House when they sent troops to Afghanistan. They made their own decision, so for them to say that they did the right thing is wrong.
    Why are we going into Syria? It is because ISIL is in Syria. Their headquarters are in Syria. They run their murderous organization from there. It is therefore necessary to go and fight in Syria, where they are, so that we stop them. I have said before that Assad must go. We are not supporting Assad, but we need to stop ISIL, and ISIL is in Syria.
    As for what this mission is, it is very clear in the motion. It is for one year. The objectives are there. Everything is there. They were briefed, as well as the opposition critic, so I do not understand what the whole problem is that they keep bringing up.
    Mr. Speaker, welcome back. I am glad you are looking better.
    I just heard the hon. member mention Afghanistan. Of course, the Liberals did not come to the House for that, and they did not have an exit strategy or say at the time what their exit strategy was. We were there for quite a long time.
    We did agree with it because it was an honourable and appropriate mission. I think the hon. member mentioned that in his response. I wonder if he feels, as I do, that it is rather juvenile and naive to expect that one would have an exit strategy when one is beginning to win.
    We are winning in Iraq. They are getting supplied by Syria—
    Order, please. We have just a short bit of time to get another quick response in. The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, we do have an exit strategy. The exit strategy is when we defeat ISIL. That is the exit strategy.
    Mr. Speaker, first let me commend my colleague, the member for Ottawa Centre and the official opposition foreign affairs critic, on a clear and forceful speech this morning outlining the NDP's position on the motion before the House on the government's intention to expand the combat mission in Iraq to Syria and nominally add another year to the mission. I also want to commend my other colleagues who have spoken in the debate thus far.
    I also want to acknowledge the appalling and abhorrent abuses and atrocities committed in Iraq and elsewhere by this vicious group known variously as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh. These include mass killings, sexual violence, slavery, forced displacement, and the destruction of holy and historic sites. In Iraq alone, the violence has led to the displacement of 2.5 million civilians and left 5.2 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
    ISIL claims an old goal of parts of Islam, one that was even promoted in the Middle East by the west for its own purposes 100 years ago, which is the establishment of a caliphate. Its methods are brutal and are opposed by the rest of Islam. ISIL is fomenting and carrying out a most extreme battle between the Shiite and Shia branches of Islam, extreme intolerance to the point of death, and a radical ideology that in no way represents Islam.
    The current crisis has been created by ISIL in the vacuum of governmental authority in Iraq after 10 years of military intervention by the United States and others. In response, the current international coalition of some 60 nations, led by the United States, is now working to deal with the threat of ISIL and the fallout of its actions. The coalition has undertaken the so-called “five lines of effort”, of which only one involves military combat. What is more, only a small minority of coalition partners are actually engaged in military combat. Canada is one of them.
    The government started last September with a 30-day mission to advise and assist the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq. Then it became a six-month air combat mission with the assurances of no ground combat, no painting targets, and no accompaniment of the Kurds into combat. Now the government is nominally adding another year to Canada's commitment and expanding into Syria without its consent, a condition set by the Prime Minister last fall.
    I continue to say “nominally add another year” for a very good reason, which is that the Conservative government, through statements by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of National Defence, and the Prime Minister himself, has made it clear that it is headed toward a long-term military combat mission for Canada with no clear end. We will be faced with this decision as long as the Conservatives are in government.
    The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of National Defence, and the Prime Minister have all stated that ISIL poses a direct threat to Canada. The Prime Minister said:
    We will deal with it as long as it is there. We will not stop dealing with it before that.
    Hearing that, we know we are in this for the long haul.
     We have to look at how the government has defined the threat. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said in his speech this morning that Canadians are under siege. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of National Defence, and the Prime Minister have repeatedly said that ISIL has declared war on Canada. The Minister of National Defence actually invoked Canada's independent right of self-defence in international law as a justification for the actions being taken by Canada.
    These overblown statements by the most senior leaders of the Canadian government risk the credibility of Canada in the international world and the credibility of the government at home. They are clearly designed to raise the level of fear among Canadian citizens. What kind of respect and reputation in foreign affairs can Canada expect with this kind of leadership on the most serious matter of state—going to war in foreign countries?
    We do know, of course, that terrorists exist in Canada. That is not new, but neither the attacker on Parliament Hill nor the one in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu was sent here by any foreign entity.

  (1540)  

    As pointed out in one of Canada's foremost national newspapers, TheGlobe and Mail, despite attempts by the Prime Minister to closely tie ISIS to the terrorist threat in Canada, the actual connections are thin to non-existent.
     Instead of dealing with the actual threat in Canada by engaging in robust and well-resourced anti-radicalization and counter-radicalization programs here at home, by working with the Muslim community instead of alienating them, by preventing the flow of funds to ISIL, by confronting the dire humanitarian situation in a significant and increased manner, and by doing all of those things that my colleague the member for Ottawa Centre emphasized in his speech this morning and that are contained in the NDP amendment, the current government is going down the road of war from mission creep to mission leap with no clear goals, no honesty with the House of Commons and the Canadian people, no clear end or exit strategy, dubious legal justification and no end gain.
    In a television appearance the other day the Minister of National Defence stated that the strategy has gone from one of containing ISIl to defeating it. We just heard the same thing from the parliamentary secretary. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said something else today. However, when the Minister of National Defence was asked what happens in the event that Canada reaches the objective of defeating ISIL, he admitted that he would need to look for a crystal ball. That will give members some idea about where the government thinks this is going and how it would lead to the actual resolve it is proposing. The objectives keep changing depending on who is speaking, and without a clear objective the uncertainty about this mission and its length is obvious.
    We cannot trust what the government will do in the course of this military action. We found that out over the last six months as the mission “evolved” without Canadians knowing about it at the time, and evolved contrary to the express promises of the Prime Minister.
     This time he has given us a hint. On Tuesday in the House the Prime Minister said, “We have made important deployments...those deployments could easily be changed”. He also opened the door to further expansion, saying, “we must avoid, if we can, taking on ground combat responsibilities in this region. We seek to have the Iraqis do this themselves”. With the government's record, that is far from reassuring.
     Have we learned nothing from our experience most recently in Afghanistan and Libya? Neither can be called a success. In Libya it was relatively easy to destroy the Government of Libya, although that was not the stated intention going in, which has changed from the “responsibility to protect” to “regime change”. The result was a disaster of instability, chaos and a vacuum into which numerous terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and ISIL are now free to operate. Now we are dealing with the fallout from a 10-year military intervention in Iraq. When will we acknowledge the limitations and significant potential for failure and disaster by taking this military approach again and again?
     Let me be clear. The NDP supports the coalition, as do 60 other nations, with only a handful of our western allies engaged in air strikes, and none engaged as Canada is on the ground. This debate is about what role Canada should play as part of the coalition. Canada must act, but we must do so in the way we can best add value to the international coalition, and in a way that respects international law and our values as a country. We cannot support the long-term, ill-defined, military combat mission proposed in the motion. We have therefore amended it to conform to the important steps that Canada can and should take, both within Canada and in the region, to support those affected and to help build the long-term stability of Iraq and the entire region.

  (1545)  

    Mr. Speaker, I believe the member's statement was filled with a number of mischaracterizations of the government's policy. I strongly disagree with his conclusions.
    First, the member characterized a small number of countries as being involved in the military campaign. In fact, there are 24 countries that have committed military assets to the campaign, amongst which are the social democratic governments of Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and France. As well, other countries with military assets including involvement in the air campaign whose governments' decisions are supported by the social democratic parties are the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and the democratic administration in the United States.
     Parties of the centre left all through the democratic world see an urgent security imperative and humanitarian imperative to stop this genocide, to stop the metastasization of this genocidal terrorist organization into actually becoming something resembling a state. Why does the NDP take such a radical departure from the mainstream view on international security of the centre left parties?
    Second, the member says we have no clear goal. The goal is very clear. It is to degrade ISIL to the point where it no longer constitutes a security threat to Canada or the world. That is what I characterize as defeating that organization.
    The member says there is no exit strategy. We have 600 personnel in Kuwait and 69 in Erbil. The exit strategy is very simple. When the Government of Canada decides that their mission is over, they get on planes and return home.
    Would the member please stop repeating this nonsense.

  (1550)  

    Mr. Speaker, I find it amusing that the minister likes to play with words. About the exit strategy, there is a well-known strategic matter that militaries should and can and do consider whenever they are engaged in battle. When they go into a mission, deciding how to get out is a very important part of deciding whether to go in.
    As to the goal, the goal is expressed differently today. We heard from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, then we heard from the parliamentary secretary. We do not know what goal the government has.
    We do not trust the government, frankly. I do not know what the other parties in other countries do with their governments, but we certainly have reason not to trust the government as to what they will do, when they will do and how far they go.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my fellow defence critic a question of his party's position.
    First, I will say that our position is not to support this motion because we do not see it being in the national interest. The Liberal Party of Canada has never shied away from sending the Canadian Armed Forces into combat when it does serve the national interest.
    We received a briefing yesterday. In that briefing, foreign affairs was very clear that it is important that Iraq's own army become sufficient to take on ISIL on its own. What it said is that it is becoming stronger thanks to advise and assist, and training efforts by coalition partners, including Canada.
    We agree that these efforts should be behind the wire and not at the front lines. Why would the NDP not support behind the wire, back of the front line training that could help make the Iraqi forces stronger so that they themselves can protect their people and territory, and take it back from ISIL?
    Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that we have never objected to the notion of assisting the Iraqi army to train and transport weapons to the Iraqi army, which was done from the Czech Republic and from Albania. We supported that. That was never put to a motion in this House.
    What was put to a motion in this House in early October was the whole package, which we voted against. We did have trouble, of course, getting the truth from the government during the month of September, even as to how many people were going and how many people were there. When questions were asked as to when they were going, the response was “What do you want? The air schedule? The flight numbers?” Those were the kinds of responses we got. It took about three weeks to find out how many were going.
    We would certainly support efforts to assist the Iraqi army. What we ended up getting was a combat mission with combat involvement by those ground troops.
    Before we resume debate, I have a comment.
    With the nature and the gravity of the debate before the House today, members may have observed that we are only really getting about two questions during the five minutes allowed for questions and comments. This is something the chair occupants have been watching closely.
    We will do our best to fit more questions in, but it is quite understandable that members, and those responding to the questions, want to take their time to speak on the kinds of points that are pertinent to the question that is before the House this afternoon and this evening, I understand.
    With your co-operation and indulgence, we will do our best to accommodate as many as we can, but I do not expect we will get more than probably two questions or comments in during that five minute period.
    Resuming debate, the hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs.
    Mr. Speaker, whenever we talk about the deployment of the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces into a combat or combat-related mission, it is one of the most important debates we have in the House. Certainly as someone who served in the military, I take very seriously my chance to speak in the House of Commons.
    I was proud to speak on October 7 of last year on the mission against ISIL, when the Prime Minister first brought it to the House. Now I speak in a unique role as well, as Minister of Veterans Affairs, recognizing that when we send our men and women into areas of the world like this, there are risks. I think of those risks and of those people, the moms and dads who are serving their country, the sons and daughters, people like Sgt. Andrew Doiron and his comrades who in their training mission encountered friendly fire. It just shows the risks and uncertainty when we send the Canadian Armed Forces in. We send them because they are professional and among the best in the world. As Minister of Veterans Affairs, I am not just proud of them, but I am here to assure those men and women and their families that we will serve them after their deployments and after they leave uniform.
    I think back to October 7 and look back at my speech to see where we have come as a country, as one of the allies fighting the ISIL movement worldwide, and what has happened since October 7. I read the Prime Minister's speech to the House. It is important because we are bringing this debate and a vote to the House, unlike the Liberal Party before the 12-year Afghanistan mission. The Prime Minister said in October of last year, “It has never been the Canadian way to do only the most easy and praiseworthy of actions and to leave the tough things” to other nations.
    Our country has had a proud history of playing a role commensurate with our size and ability. That is what we have been asked to do here alongside our allies like the United States and others, and that is what we are doing with professionalism.
    Let us look at the world and indeed Canada since the first debate in the House in October of last year. We are now renewing the mission because we have taken very concrete timelines that were monitoring the impact of our mission to degrade and restrain ISIL from its advance and to halt its activities of barbarism in that part of the world.
    What have we seen since October? We have seen attacks in the Middle East, terrorism attacks in Africa, Europe, and here in Canada. We have seen the rise of the foreign fighter phenomenon. Last year there were estimates of 20,000 foreign fighters joining the ISIL mission in that part of the world, 500 or more from Great Britain and Germany and more than 1,000 from France. There have been Canadians. We have been troubled by the fact that there are Canadians who have been misled and swept into this global jihadi movement, who are actually travelling there to commit these atrocious acts. That gives us a further responsibility as a leading nation of the world to not ignore what is happening.
    There has also been progress. Sgt. Doiron and the CSOR, our F-18 squadrons, our Aurora crews, our Polaris crews, Canada, and our allies are making a profound impact. Religious minorities have been protected. There are refugees leaving these areas where their lives are at risk. We have degraded ISIL and we have constrained it out of large parts of Iraq, which it was essentially overrunning last year.
    However, there is still progress to make. There are still inherent risks with allowing a terrorist force that has as its mission to create a state and execute and encourage attacks throughout the world. Canada is not immune. We have seen that in this city. Therefore, we have a responsibility to play an active role.
    I am proud when the Prime Minister also highlights our leadership on the humanitarian aid side of the mission, because the subject of refugees and aid cannot be divorced from the fact that we need to bring security and safety to that region. Just this week in the House, the Prime Minister said, “We do not...choose between fighting... [terror] and helping its victims. We will continue to do both”. We are providing some of our world-class expertise from the Canadian Armed Forces, but we are also one of the lead nations in aid. We are one of the lead nations responding in the refugee crisis. We will continue to do that.

  (1555)  

    In my speech on October 7, I said debates like this define the very character of Canada.

[Translation]

    The fact that we have the opportunity to have this debate is part of our Canadian values, values that we must defend.

[English]

    A debate like this calls for a Churchill quote, because he was a leader to whom many parliamentarians from around the world look. Churchill, in debates like this, would say let us worry less about action but worry more about inaction. That is paraphrasing Winston Churchill. Our government is taking deliberate and measured action against not just a threat in that region but a threat to the world and to stability.
    It is measured in that we are back debating a timeline of this deployment. We are also in a limited combat role where our fighter aircraft can degrade and pin down ISIL. We are doing a training mission to help the Iraqis and the peshmerga defend their own territory, to give them the tactical knowledge to help them defend against the atrocities. It is a limited, measured, and temporal mission that we are bringing to our Parliament to debate.
    One of the most troubling parts of the debate in October and, indeed, this week is the sad position of the Liberal Party of Canada. In fact, it is a deviation from that party's traditional approach to Canada's position in world affairs, and it is troubling. In my speech last October, I quoted Mackenzie King from 1939 in this place, who thanked Conservative leader Robert Manion, a Vimy Ridge veteran, for taking the politics out of the debate about World War II. King said, “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”. That was said by Mackenzie King in this place, thanking the opposition for supporting Canadian involvement against tyranny.
    What did Lester Pearson, another leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, say in 1951 in the era of Canada in Germany as part of the Cold War and the Korean mission? Pearson said, “We should accept without any reservation, the view that the Canadian who fires his rifle in Korea or on the Elbe is defending his home as surely as if he were firing it on his own soil”. These are not foreign acts that we can ignore. Indeed, Canadian security is inherent in what is happening across the world.
    Even in 2001, the foreign affairs minister and deputy prime minister for the Liberal government, John Manley, said in that very foyer, after 9/11:
    Canada has a good reputation...in the world, but let‘s make no mistake about it: Canada does not have a history as a pacifist or a neutralist country.
    Canada has soldiers who are buried all over Europe because we fought in defence of liberty....
    Those are three quotes from three generations of Liberal leaders in Canada. What will historians look back on as the current Liberal leader's profound quote in defence of liberty? Would it be that this is not about whipping out our CF-18s to show how big they are? It is sad. The Liberal Party has disappeared from what most Canadians knew that proud party to be. Even its defence critic today criticized what she called the laundry list of atrocities being conducted by ISIL that we are trotting out. This is what we are fighting. Canada does not let a laundry list like that be read and say that it is not our mission, that we have no role there.
    We are a proud country that benefits from globalization, that benefits from trade, that gives aid and helps on a humanitarian basis around the world, and we are doing that, but we also do not shirk our responsibility to play a role that is commensurate with our size and ability. I am very proud of the men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force. I am very proud of all uniformed figures in the operations centres working with our allies. I am very proud of our soldiers from JTF2 and the CSOR units who are giving the tools to some of the people on the ground to prevent these atrocities.